Mt. Zion Lady Bulldogs hope to send message

By Doug Gorman

When Jason Battles took the job as the Mt. Zion girls track and field coach three years ago, he inherited a team with very little tradition.

Now, prospective athletes are seeking the coach out for a spot on the team, and why not,? Winning breeds interest, and that's exactly what is happening at Mt. Zion.

The Lady Bulldogs proved that recently by capturing the Region 2-AAAAA championship.

"When I first got here we were finishing last in the region," he said. "Now we are the team to beat."

The region championship was historic.

"This was the first region title in any girls' sport at Mt. Zion," said Battles. "I'm really proud of that, and so is the team."

The next step for the Lady Bulldogs is sending a message to its competition when the team begins events today at the state track and field meet in Albany.

"I don't know if we can win it, but we should be able to bring home a top-5," he said. "I think a Top-10 is certainly realistic possibility."

Junior Shaka Dennison could be the key to the Lady Bulldogs' success.

Dennison has state meet experience and could come away with a title this year after qualifying in several events, including the 100 and 200 and the long jump. Freshman Cherell Lawson also qualified in the 200. The Lady Bulldogs also will be entered in the 4x100 and 4x400 relay.

"We don't lose too much next year, so I think we are really setting ourselves us as the team to beat next season."

Mt. Zion's toughest competition could come from county rival Riverdale, who could realistically be the team to beat in the Class AAAAA meet.

The Lady Raiders are sending 12 athletes to the state meet. Riverdale has been turning in top performances all year. In addition to its outstanding performances at the Region 4-AAAAA meet, the Lady Raiders tuned up for the post-season by winning the Clayton County Championships with a score of 169 points.

At last month's county meet, Riverdale won both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Erica Williams, Dominque Thurman, Centauria Olds, and Tia Perry set new records in both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.