The Indian Land boys track team is not looking back.
Last year, the Warriors finished seventh in the state, but graduated state-placing runners in the 800-meter dash, mile and two-mile run, and three out of four legs on their 4x400 and 4x800-meter relay teams.
It may seem like this would be an enormous rebuilding year for the team, but Head Coach Sara Allen said she looks forward to opening gun.
"There are some boys moving up that have the possibility of qualifying for the state meet," Allen said. "There are some first year runners who could fill some spots too. They are incredible runners - they just need some fine tuning. They need to get some meets under their belt and learn what it's all about."
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Allen said she is counting on an experienced group of distance runners, junior Sammy Dorgham, and sophomores John Cutrone and Travis Butler, to lead the longer races.
"Sammy and John went to states in cross-country, and Travis ran at Upper State in track. They're all personally disciplined runners- great athletes. They train hard," Allen said.
Sprinter Troy WongSang is expected to carry the short-distance team, competing in the 100 and 200-meter dash and the 4x100-meter relay, along with sophomore Breyon Williams.
"Breyon is remarkable. There are a good number of guys, though, who I think will have a really good year," Allen said.
One other key member of the team will be Marcus Williams, a senior who also stars on the basketball team. Williams has been training with the team since he was in seventh grade and has been competing in the jumping events ever since, Allen said.
"Training is going pretty well so far," Williams said.
He will be competing in the long jump, high jump and triple jump this season, but said the long jump will be his main focus. Williams' longest jump is 22 feet, one-inch, but he said he hopes to get beyond 23 feet this year.
"I'm just going to focus on jumping well at the right time of the year," Williams said.
He also said that although this may seem like a rebuilding year for the team, he feels like there are a few major contributors who could carry the Warriors to the state championship meet.
Marcus is not the only member of the Williams' family expected to excel on the track this year. His younger sister, sophomore Mariah Williams, who also plays on the girls basketball team, has qualified for the state meet in the 100-meter hurdles for three straight seasons. She also finished sixth in the state in the high jump last year.
"I think I have a pretty good chance to make it back to the state meet this year and win it," Mariah Williams said. "I'm just going to focus on hurdling all year."
New faces for girls
Talking about the number of key performers the girls team lost to graduation, she said she thinks some of the new members can step up and replace them.
Girls Head Coach Nicole Hemric said she has been pleasantly surprised by the number of new runners that have helped fill in the gaps this year.
"We have a lot of middle schoolers coming out. A lot of the girls are interested in the jumping events, which is a big help," Hemric said. "A large group of girls have been running together since seventh grade; They're just naturally so athletic."
Hemric said she has relied on a senior duo, Tia Johnson and Tameka Robinson, to help run practice and step into leadership roles. Both participate in jumping events and relay teams, and will contribute quite a few points, Hemric said.
On the distance running team, freshman Tiffany Cutron has provided a boost, organizing a 4x800-meter relay team.
"Tiffany is definitely a leader. She'll fill that role as she starts coming up," Hemric said.
The Warriors, as most 1-A programs do, will begin their season by competing against larger schools before stepping into region competition.
The team's first two meets in March are against Fort Mill and South Pointe, before stepping into 1-A competition Thursday, March 26, at home against Lewisville, Buford and Andrew Jackson.