WEST JEFFERSON — Leading up to the Ashe County-hosted MVAC Conference Championship Tuesday, April 30, head coach Alex Rollins said his girls and boys track teams are focused on the upcoming challenge.
“Currently, we’re fine-tuning our field events and some of relay events, as we’re making some late season adjustments due to new season-best times some of athletes have been posting as of late,” Ashe County head coach Alex Rollins said.
Both teams are favorites to win the conference, but Rollins said recently the teams have battled through a tough schedule that saw them race four times in six days.
“We began to see some fatigue set in, which was as planned,” Rollins said.
Despite the late season fatigue, Rollins still expects his teams to come out on top of the conference championship.
“As far as the boy’s team goes, I think we should finish very well at the conference meet if we can stay healthy and focused,” Rollins said.
Rollins said the boys distance runners are shaping up, and he has extreme confidence in his throwers.
“We’re basically five deep in the discus, with all our guys slinging discs over 100 feet or more,” Rollins said. “I really wish we could enter all five at the conference meet, but we’ll be limited to just three.”
On the other hand, Rollins said the 2019 Ashe County girls team is small but solid. If the team can nudge out Wilkes Central and Alleghany at the conference meet, it’ll be a true team effort, according to Rollins. He added that he has almost every runner in the maximum number of races for the meet.
“I have placed the majority of the workload on the backs of our four core distance runners,” Rollins said. “Our team captain Olivia Randolph will carry a lot of the load for our girls along with Zoe Schell, Mahaley Cronk and Mallorie Eller. I am confident these girls will deliver as they have in years past.”
Rollins also mentioned Bella Powers, Bella Potter, Holly Grant and Melena Howell as key contributors to the success of the girls track team.
The Ashe County teams have used each meet throughout the 2019 season as an opportunity to grow and prepare for the conference meet.
“Our growth has been in discovering where our athletes can have a lot of success throughout the season,” Rollins said. “Overall, we’ve added a lot of distance to our jumps, and we’ve made some good gains in some of our hurdling events too thanks to Coach (Phil) Morrison.”
For the girls team, Rollins said Powers could be the x-factor to conference title.
“Bella (Powers) is leading the conference in the long jump at the moment and is really learning how to sprint like a track athlete,” Rollins said. “I think (she) will do well at the conference meet.”
Rollins also made note of Jason Durr as an improved hurdler, adding that Durr is hungry run faster at every meet.
“Jason Durr is tearing up everyone he races in the 300 meter hurdles and is currently standing alone in the conference in this event,” Rollins said. “He broke the school record last week at Watauga and is really running on fire at the moment.”
For the girls team, the biggest challenge will be to finish races with good times, according to Rollins. He added that some of Ashe’s athletes will have very little time to recover between races, which can prove to be daunting for some of the girl’s as they’ll have to flip a race.
Rollins said flipping races, which involves competing in back-to-back events, is tough to do at any level, adding even college athletes struggle with having this type of physical endurance.
“Our girls are in tip-top running form at the moment, and I have every confidence they’re going to gut out the meet of their life on April 30,” Rollins said.
As for the boys team, Rollins said injuries are a problem. At the moment, the team has some key sprinters that are not back to 100 percent, including Josh Hardin, who is the most dominant runner in the conference.
“We are the team to beat this year, and other teams will come ready to challenge us,” Rollins said. “We just can’t become too complacent.”
The conference meet was scheduled to take place after press time for this week’s Ashe Post & Times. Results will be published in next week’s edition.