SMS track tops Classic again, following another undefeated season
Earlier this month, Selbyville Middle School wrapped up their track and field season, and for the second consecutive year, the boys’ team captured an undefeated record and placed first at the Delaware Middle School Classic Invitational, held on May 4 at Cape Henlopen High School.
With Indian River High now producing numerous state qualifiers in their three-year-old track and field program, it would appear that in through the upcoming years the talent will continue to find its way on board.
“For many years,” said Selbyville Middle School head track and field coach Sally Craig, “our kids who ran track had nowhere to go. Some would go on to Sussex Tech in order to stick with the sport. In the past, the ones at Indian River would grow up without a program, but now, it’s great that IR gives them that option.”
At this year’s Middle School Classic, the defending boys’ champions of Selbyville Middle strung together 117 points for a comfortable first-place win out of nine teams. Chimpan Middle out of Harrington, who finished second with just 55 points. The Indians’ team took home seven gold medals, three silvers and four bronze, and had athletes earn five other ribbons for fourth, fifth and sixth place. Among the gold medals were Kenny Pinson, Isaiah Morris, Damontae Purnell and Ki’Ante Surgis, who pieced together a 4x100 relay time of 46.5 seconds, a tournament record for the competition.
Pinson also placed first in the long jump and earned a meet record in the 100-meter run with a time of 11.7 seconds. Morris’ 400-meter time of 54.2 seconds was also worthy of a first-place finish and a new meet record. Sturgis ran his 200-meter event for first-place, with a time of 23.6 seconds. Selbyville Middle’s 4x200 relay team, consisting of Sturgis, Purnell, Morris and Keith Schalterton, finished on top with a time of 1:40, as well. Donald Hattier earned a gold medal for his 800-meter run in 2:21, while he picked up second place in the 1600 with a 5:09 mile.
“Watching these kids develop is a lot like parents going out to games to see their own kids grow up,” said Craig. “I’m very proud of them.” Selbyville picked up three medals and two ribbons between the discuss and shot put events, as well, displaying versatility throughout their team. “It’s unbelievable to have this much talent on the track,” Craig noted. “You usually don’t have this many quick runners, but they were great in the throwing events, too. It shows that we’re a well-rounded team.”
This year marked the third time, overall, that the Selbyville Middle School boys’ program captured an undefeated season in its eight years. “Running a middle school track program is a lot like organized chaos,” Craig said with a laugh, “but when the kids work so hard at it each year, it’s a lot of fun.”
With the bar set high from last year, the Selbyville Indians didn’t know exactly what this season would hold. “When we started off the year,” said Hattier, who also wrestles and trains mixed martial arts, “we didn’t think we’d go undefeated again. We hoped for another good year, and it just kept getting better and better. When you have these other athletes around you, it pushes yourself harder to beat records from before.”
Many of the other athletes are multi-sport students, playing football in the fall and basketball in the winter.
“It was hard work,” noted Pinson, “but we had the motivation. Our coaches were helping us reach our full potential.
“We worked really hard for it,” Morris added. “Some of us were on the team in 6th grade, and we started from the beginning and worked our way up to the top.”
As the eighth graders on the team ready for this fall, when they’ll enroll at the high school, they recognize what they’re leaving behind for next year’s middle school program. “I think we give the other guys determination,” Morris added. “We worked hard, and now others will work hard to do what we did.”
At the middle school level, athletes are limited to participating in three events, but many of them already have an eye on which ones they want to add to their repertoire once they make the move to Indian River High School, where they’re allowed to enter four events. “We always want more,” said Sturgis. “Next year, we’ll be able to pick up another [event] and get better at it.”
While it can be easy for the students to get wrapped up in the trophies and medals, Craig sees another reason to celebrate, just around the corner. “If these kids stick with it,” she said, “track could be their ticket to college. Some of these guys are already running faster than the high school kids, and it’s great to keep them involved with something they enjoy doing so much.”
Of the 60 track and field athletes at Selbyville Middle, the majority are male, though Craig hopes that recent success will help bring more kids out to the team in years to come. Selbyville’s girls team finished fifth at the classic, but only lost one match this season.