At the end of last season, the Bearden track and field teams lost both accomplished throwers and runners.
Josh Sobota is now throwing for Kentucky, and Abby Mink is throwing for Tennessee Tech. Distance runner Nathaniel Blalock was also a crucial part of the team, leading the 4×800 relay to state last season.
Those losses present a challenge for the current team, but Coach Ashley Powell feels confident that those events can continue to be strengths for the Bulldogs. In particular, Coach Powell is looking to junior Megan Armstrong to lead what is a growing number of throwers.
“She will do some great things this year,” Coach Powell said. “We’ve probably got one of the largest throwing teams that we have ever had. It will be a growing year on the throws, especially after losing two key seniors, but we have good potential.”
The boys and girls teams will host their only home meet of the season at 5 p.m. on Thursday.
Despite losing Blalock, the track team has high expectations for the 4×800 team, which boasts Tennessee signee Preston Ruth as the headliner in a veteran group.
“This year’s 4×800 team is hoping for a state title,” senior Nathan Worley said. “But in order to do that, all of us have to work together to drop a lot of seconds each.”
Ruth is confident in his 4×800 team’s ability to make an impact at state.
“All four of us are coming back, so we are pretty excited about what we can do,” Ruth said.
Not only was Blalock a great runner, he was also the vocal core of the team, encouraging runners of all abilities. His absence will be felt throughout the team, but runners and coaches are confident in the current seniors’ ability to rise to the occasion and become vocal leaders.
“As a freshman, I had David Shankles,” Ruth said. “And then last year and sophomore year I had Nathaniel Blalock, so I am trying to set the example that they did for me.”
Ruth knows firsthand the importance of senior leadership and has made it his mission this year to be the leader of the team this year, from the younger runners up to his fellow veteran runners.
“I am definitely trying to be someone that those guys can turn to as just another guy on the team,” Ruth said.