By Lena Wilson
In the first week of May, Wildcat track and field conquered the PAC-6 championship. The women’s team finished the conference championship with a score of 113 points; Northern High School had 111 in second place. East’s men’s team finished with 135 points, and Jordan High School came in second with 120 points.
According to East coach Steven Marquis, a conference win was the original goal of both the men’s and women’s teams.
The men’s team consists of many returning athletes, particularly juniors and seniors. That also means strong senior leadership.
“We really knew we had a good chance in the boys’ side,” Marquis said.
Senior Khari Battle won the 400-meter dash and the 4×400-meter relay with senior Sam Miner, junior Rahul Kathard and Phoenix Academy junior Edie Vandy. Battle also placed second place in the 4×200-meter relay with junior Jerry Chang, senior Will Buckley and Vandy.
“I’ve been training since the beginning of school with Coach [Jon] Beyle and it just feels nice to know that that hard work has finally paid off,” Battle said.
The women’s team, however, is more green. There are three female seniors, and one is new to track this year.
“We have, I think, 29 girls on the roster and 18 freshmen,” Marquis said. “For them to win would almost have to be a perfect storm…which it was.”
The track teams are preparing to send qualifying athletes to NCHSAA Mideast Regional this Saturday. As a larger team, the mens’ team will send 12 athletes to regionals. As a smaller team, the women’s team will send only send the three athletes that qualified.
“I think the individuals going will do very, very well, but as a team we won’t do anything. We just don’t have enough bodies that have qualified through,” Marquis said about the women’s team. “We knew this would be a pretty special year on the boys’ side. I think we’ll do real well as a team.”
Sports fans can come see qualifying East track and field athletes compete at NCHSAA Mideast Regional this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Green Hope High School.