SBC Champs Back on Track
by Marvin Davis
Delta Digital News Service
JONESBORO — The reigning Sun Belt Conference champions get ready to take the track and prepare for the upcoming 2018-2019 season, led by several returning All-Conference runners.
The Red Wolves are hungry and ready to attack on the track this upcoming season. With some key athletes returning, they look to be in good shape.
Head coach Jim Patchell said, “There is no relaxing; we enjoy what we do. We work hard, but it is harder to repeat then it is to win.”
The team’s goals haven’t changed. The Red Wolves plan on winning another championship and being a consistent top 25 team.
“I don’t expect any falloff this year,” junior sprinter Nick Hilson said. “We may have lost a lot of key runners from last year that gave us a lot of points, but with the freshmen class we have coming in, I have no doubt that we will can expect great things.”
The former Nettleton High standout earned second team All-Conference honors in the spring. He will be running the 110-meter hurdles, 200-meter hurdles, 1×400-meter relay and 4×400-meter relay this season.
No one expects anything to be given to them.
“I expect to get out what I put in,” senior hurdler La’Carol Patricia Ann Baynes said. “This year I’m putting in more work than I have these past years. With that I hope to set the hurdle record and win a ring. The (women’s) team is capable of a lot if we put in the work so I hope to set a standard that will encourage the team. I know not every race will be the best but I expect every race and every practice to be full effort.”
The two-year member of the women’s track and field team said A-State’s program is the best she has been a part of. She participates in the 400-meter hurdles, 400-meter dash and the 4×400 meter relay. Baynes said the intensity has picked up in practice.
“We found out what we are capable of, the areas needing work and we have to execute a new plan,” she said. “If it was more relaxed we wouldn’t see improvement … can’t become stagnant or comfortable.”
Junior runner Kden Johnson agreed the track program is a great experience.
“Last year we all were all hitting on all cylinders,” Johnson said. “It was a great atmosphere at practice. We pushed each other and held each person accountable in order to reach our goal, which was winning a conference championship. This group is young, but the sky is the limit for us.”
Johnson said Patchell tells the team, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” He said the coach also sends motivational text messages to team members throughout the year so they will stay focused and hungry.
The quest to repeat starts at 2 p.m., Dec. 2 during the “Kickoff Klassic” at the First National Bank Arena.