The Thompson High track and field teams got out of the blocks quickly this season. But its endurance that Warriors head coach Chris Schmidt is searching for from his teams.
“Just keep grinding right now,” Schmidt said of the current approach. “To me, March is not (as) important. The second half of the year is more important. My key ingredients are Sectionals and State. Everything else is a warmup. I’m not saying it’s all not important, but Sectionals and State are what really matters. I’m training them hard right now, making them tough as nails. They’re running with tired legs. They’re exhausted and they’re performing.”
The Warriors have participated in two meets thus far. In the team competition, the girls team won at Smith’s Station and finished second at Vestavia Hills. The boys finished second at Smith’s Station and fifth at Vestavia Hills, in a meet that a few key contributors didn’t participate.
“Good things are happening at Thompson right now,” Schmidt said.
The competition steps up this weekend with the Warriors participating in the Homewood Invitational at Samford University. Schmidt said it is a “state caliber meet.”
“It’s going to be huge,” Schmidt said. “We can find out what we need to work on. Track and field is kind of like chess. You got to put your athletes in the right events to win. Sometimes, you might be willing to sacrifice two points here, to gain points over there. That’s what we’ll end up doing. We’ll check out the athletes at other schools. At the same time, we’ll sit down Sunday night and break it down. We’ll figure out what direction we want to go.”
Following is a breakdown of the girls and boys teams at Thompson.
McKenzie Hogue is one of the most dominant runners in the state. Hogue was a state champion in the 1,600 and 3,200 during the indoor track and field season. She is capable of scoring big points in everything from the 800 meters and 3,200 meters and is also a key component on the relay team.
“She, obviously, has won everything she runs,” Schmidt said.
ZaKiria Holifield has already established herself among the elite sprinters in the state. Hurdler Madison Wright is also off to a quick start.
Holified, Hogue, Alayah King and London Wooley had a sprint medley time that was 19th in the country last weekend.
Ebony Butler racked up big points during the first two meets in the discus and the shot put. She won the shot put in both meets. Zoria Miller, who throws the javelin and competes in the discus and shot put is also a force.
Wooley cleared 5 foot, 6 inches last weekend in the high jump, which, according to Schmidt was 13th best in the country. Triple jumper Niya Oden also had one of the top marks in the country.
Elizabeth Sutton set a school record with a 9-foot pole vault.
“We have some good marks,” Schmidt said. “We’ve been doing our thing, I’m very, very pleased. The girls are rocking.”
Just like on the girls side, the Warriors have talented depth on the boys side.
Jace Jones and Brandon DeMarcus Lee have run well in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Thomas Cousins broke the school record with a time of 1:58.73 in the 800 meters. Timothy Osborne has also performed well in the distance and middle distance.
The Warriors have depth in the sprints with Alondae Vassar, Sam Holmes, Antonio Brown and Kev’Shon Hobson.
“They are 200 guys, 400 guys, we mix them all together,” Schmidt said. “They won the 4x400 this weekend. They dropped the hammer in that terrible weather.”
Thrower Viktor Turek, the state indoor shot put champion, has not thrown in a meet before this weekend.
“We’ve been working on his craft for the discus and javelin,” Schmidt said. “He’ll open this weekend and have lot of fun. We’ve been focusing on techniques, little mechanics here and there. We’re picking and choosing events for him. He was doing recruiting visits. He’s been looking at schools and I’d rather him miss an early meet than a later meet.”
Steve Villegas is also one of the top throwers in the state. Freshman Dominique Hall, who is 6-foot-3, is an excellent pole vaulter. Phillip Lewis and Jared Hurst are quality high jumpers.
“We’re definitely getting there,” Schmidt said.