It may take some time to find the missing pieces of their relay teams, but John Hardin track coaches have some talented runners returning.
On the girls’ side, Aaliyah Hunt is back for her senior season after qualifying for the state meet in the 100-meter dash to go along with her third-place finish in the region. She set a new personal best in Lexington with her time of 12.81.
“I’m thinking she can get down to 12.50 and qualify for the state again,” Coach Leland Warsaw said.
That target time is better than the 12.77 posted by the regional champion in 2022.
Senior Janiyah Drain is just starting to practice after playing on the basketball team. She was fourth in the 100-meter last year and also could compete in the 400. This is her sixth year on the John Hardin track team.
Sophomore Laila Williams will be the team’s mid-distance ace. She will compete in the 800 and could also run the 1600 and the 3200.
“I set my personal record in the state last year with a 2:32,” Williams said. “I am pushing myself pretty hard in practice. I am hoping to get down to 2:25 this year.”
Sophomore Alaysia Pettaway also will compete in the 1600.
Warsaw thinks the best relay teams will be the 2 by 200 and the 2 by 400.
Hunt, Drain, senior Kiara Tucker and seventh-grader Ayla Lawrence will make up those relay teams.
The coach thinks sophomore Kayliegh Rice has the potential to be a state champion in the shot put by the time she graduates. Rice was second in the region in 2022 with her throw of 30-07.25. With last year’s champion graduating, she could be a favorite to win it in 2023.
Boys’ coach Joey Stockton has a luxury this year that he has not experienced in his many years in the business.
“I’ve never been in a situation where I’ve gotten distance points in a meet,” he said. “I’ve never shown up to a track meet and said, ‘you know, I’m coming here with one of the best distance guys in the state.’ ”
He can say that this year because he has Brendan Nagle on his roster.
The junior was second in last fall’s regional meet and fourth in the state in cross country.
“That’s a plus to have,” Stockton. “It’s just a matter of whether he is going to be number one or two or three.”
Nagle has a different mindset when he runs track as opposed to cross country.
“In cross country, you have endurance and you have speed,” he said. “In track, there is more of an emphasis on speed.”
Stockton is excited about the potential brought to the team by sophomore Marquis Hayes. This is his first year on the track team and the basketball player could participate in a variety of events.
“He’s looking good early,” Stockton said. “He’s going to be one of our fastest kids. We need to find the best events he can get us some points in region.”
He could run in the 100, 200 or 400 or could hurdle or be in a jumping event.
“A lot of these events take good speed and then you just have to add some technique to it,” Stockton said. “He’s a good enough athlete that we can see the potential.”
Sophomore Kamren McFayden transferred to John Hardin and the coach expects him to be strong in the hurdles and the jumps.
Freshman Darian Gibson also has been a highlight of the preseason.
“We think he will compete in the 800 by the end of the season” Stockton said. “He might not be a number one or number two guy but he will be up there.”
Stockton isn’t sure how he will handle his relay teams. Instead, he noted, the key for John Hardin with its limited team size is to put his best athletes in individual events to score points and put relay teams together from there.
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