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PREP TRACK: Randles has become Trojans' Jack of all trades (05/04)

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By Josh Claywell

 

By JOSH CLAYWELL jclaywell@thenewsenterprise.com RADCLIFF " P.J. Randles had some big shoes to fill this season. A North Hardin High School junior in his first full year with the Trojans, Randles has had the not-so-envious job of trying to replace a state champion. Randles, who joined the team halfway through last winter’s indoor season, is replacing senior defending high jump state champion Billy Thompson, who has missed the entire season with an injury. “It’s been really hard,” Randles said. “Everyone is like, ‘You’ve got to do this and do that like Billy.’ It’s a challenge, but I’m trying to do the best that I can do, and hopefully it’ll pay off.” Randles may not be ranked in any of his events, but veteran North Hardin coach James Webb said he has filled in nicely for Thompson. “He was able to work with Billy last year,” Webb said. “His form is fairly decent. Since I’ve been trying to semi-run the high jump since Coach (Rudy) McKinney retired, he hasn’t been getting the coaching he deserves. Coach McKinney comes around once a week and I’ve been trying to learn more about the event to help him more.” With the help of Thompson and Webb in the high jump, and former North Hardin standout and state champion Breion Harris in the triple jump, Randles realizes his future is indeed bright. And after spending last year learning from two of the best to ever put on the black and blue of North Hardin, Randles feels confident he will join them in being a state champion before his high school career is over. “I was out here last year, but I wasn’t a key player on anything. I was just taking notes and trying to get the feel for it,” Randles said. “It helped me a lot because I got to watch Billy in the high jump, Breion Harris and Maurice Gosa in the triple jump and watching Tamias Williams and David McKellar in the 110 hurdles. I got to see what they did best.” McKellar, a senior, and Randles are two of the Trojans’ top hurdlers. The duo set personal-record times Saturday as both crossed the finish line in 15.5 seconds in the North Hardin Invitational as they finished second and third, respectively. “At first I just came out to high jump under the direction of Billy and a couple of the coaches,” Randles said. “Then Coach Webb wanted me to try the 110 hurdles out. I didn’t want to because it looks really hard, and it is really hard if you don’t know what you’re doing, but Coach Webb helped me out and taught me how to do everything. I’ve just been going at it and working hard and trying to get faster.” It’s that attitude which has endeared Randles to Webb and the rest of the North Hardin coaching staff. “He’s a great guy. He sent me a text (message) one day, and it said ‘Coach, you know it’s time for me to step up,’” Webb said. “That next weekend he was the MVP of the meet after scoring 34 or 36 points for us. “He’s kind of in a weird position because he’s a Jack of all trades. We’re just trying to figure out really where he can help the team the most.” None of this would have been possible had Randles not given up his first sport " basketball. But now, Randles believes he’s found his true calling. “I wish I had come out earlier for the team,” Randles said. “It’s paid off a lot in my physical and mental aspects. Track has challenged me a lot. I would’ve come out earlier, to be honest, but I didn’t. Now I kind of regret it, and I’m trying to do what I can while I’m out here. “I think I’m going to let basketball go,” he added, with a laugh. “As far as school goes, I’m going to focus on one sport and get that down.” Randles said hearing the list of former North Hardin athletes who competed for the track team is part of what made him want to try the sport. “At first it was just from hearing the great athletes that North had in its past,” Randles said. “You may hear how good they were in football, but you never knew they ran track and track did this for them or helped them out in this way and got them faster or better in whatever sport they played.” Whatever the reason, Webb is just glad Randles finally joined the team. “He came out last year, but I don’t know how we got him. I don’t know who recruited, but I’m glad we’ve got him,” Webb said. “The upside is way out there. He really needs to get in the weight room. If he does that, I believe we can have another state champion.” Josh Claywell can be reached at 505-1752