IR track-and-field produces state qualifiers as season continues
Indian River High School head track-and-field coach Bob Hahn understood that Tuesday’s tri-meet against Dover and Milford would be a tough one, but with just a couple meets left in the season, the focus has shifted from wins and losses to individualized performances, as the Henlopen Conference and state tournaments emerge into view.
“We’ve got a lot of people this year who are qualifying, either automatically or provisionally, for the state times and distances,” said Hahn. “That’s a positive step toward our goal. I’m really proud of the team.”
A number of athletes – some in several different events – have already made the automatic cuts for the state competition. Both boys’ and girls’ 4-by-100-meter and 4-by-200-meter relay teams have strung together automatic qualifying times.
Keiosha Shelton and Tim Hawkins have both already recorded automatic qualifying times in the 200-meter run, while juniors Jalen Griffin, Aarron Moore, Shanekqua Holden and Shelton have each done so in the 100-meter dash.
Tim Roberts’ performance at high jump has also earned him an automatic spot at states. And, in addition to contributing to the 100- and 200-meter relay teams, Shelton has also earned an automatic qualification in the high jump.
“Keiosha has been doing great this year,” said Hahn. “She has already qualified for five events, so we’ll have to take a look at how we match up in the tournament to figure out which four she will compete in.”
Many of the athletes have already qualified for state preliminaries, as well, with plenty more on the cusp.
Shanice Whaley and Shanekqua Holden have done so in the 200-meter, while Michael Longoria’s 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs earned him prelim cuts. Roberts made the grade for preliminaries with the triple- and long-jumps, too.
Even with the individual and team success this year, assistant coach Katie Holloway doesn’t want anyone to ease up as the final stretch of the spring season begins to emerge.
“We still have a lot to work on before conferences and states,” she said. “Our relay squads need to focus on their handoffs and zones. But, for the most part, we’re trying to get as many athletes qualified as we can. We want them to get confident and push themselves.”
Tuesday’s tri-meet at Milford turned into a numbers game, rather than revealing an imbalance of performance. Much like Indian River’s varsity swim team has seen in their first few seasons, the track team found they could only do so much with considerably fewer athletes than larger schools, such as Dover and Milford.
In an event like the boys’ 4-by-400 relay team, Indian River had only one team that could compete while Dover entered two and Milford provided three. Most other events pitted Indian River between numerous competitors, as well.
“We’ve got some kids who will compete in four events,” said Hahn, “but that can wear on an athlete. When you have the numbers on your roster, your kids can get more breaks and may only enter in two or three events. It’s tough to compete with that.”
Hahn added that he hopes to continue the trend of increasing athletes on the track-and-field team.
So far this season, Indian River’s boys’ and girls’ teams have each picked up three wins on the year, and the points aren’t just coming from the upperclassmen.
“Some of the younger guys have really been stepping up,” said Hahn. “They’re establishing a leadership role and showing us that they are athletes that we can build on for the future of the program. We have lots of kids with a lot of potential and, fortunately, most of them have time to grow and develop.”
As the Indians close in on the final two meets of the season, at Caesar Rodney against the Riders and Polytech Panthers on Tuesday, May 1, and at home on Tuesday, May 8, versus Sussex Central and Sussex Tech, Hahn is hoping the Northern Division competition brings out the most in his athletes.
“Our kids are getting to see teams with a lot of talent this year,” he noted. “By having most of our meets on the road, we’re seeing what other schools have, and it makes us appreciate what we have and get to where we want to be. I’m eager to see how we perform with the Northern schools. Hopefully, it pushes everyone to their capabilities.”