By Derrick Mahone
There is an empty spot on the wall in Jason Battles' office that he is looking to fill with the right picture.
The Mount Zion girls' track and field coach is hoping to get that picture this weekend in Albany at the Class AAAA championship. Battles is hoping that his team will get a chance to poise in front of the "big board" at Hugh Mills Stadium, which displays the name and point total of the top finishing teams at the meet.
"If we can score at least 25 points, I think we can be in the top five," Battles said. "Things change year-to-year, but I think we have a very, very reachable goal. I would like to have the team poise in front of that board with our name up there."
The Lady Bulldogs want better fortunes this time in Albany. Last season, Prior sustained an injury and the weekend snowballed from there.
Entering the three-day meet, Prior is favorite in both the 100- and 200-meters, and she anchors both relay teams.
From most indications, three-time defending champion Southwest DeKalb and region foe Tucker are the favorites. Two weeks ago, Tucker amassed 137 points to 131.5 from Southwest to beat them in the Region 6-AAAA championship at Panthersville Stadium in Decatur.
"To beat these teams, you will need some luck and some misfortune," Battles said. "Last year, we had the misfortune of being snake-bitten. I want a picture of my team in front of the board to put in my office. I got a space already picked out."
Prior, an Auburn signee, has the top time in the state in the 100 at 11.77 seconds, according to gatfxc.com. She is ranked No. 6 in the 200 at 24.4, but No. 1 among Class AAAA runners.
Battles told Prior if she sweeps the events, she has to give him on of her championship caps the winner receives on the podium. The 400 relay team is seeded No. 3 while the 1,600 is eighth.
Aside from Prior, Mount Zion team sophomore Arashawn Yanes could score some points in the long jump and senior Doreen Wilson is expected to do well in the triple jump.
The other goal Battles wants to accomplish is to showcase his team's senior talent for the college scouts. Several have been in talks with colleges, but a good showing could firm up a scholarship offer.
"I just want to get some recognition for the ladies," he said. "If we go down there and peak, we have a good chance. I'm not going to make any predictions because I haven't had a chance to study the other teams. To be honest, at state, the scoring is so split up. I do know we have a chance to finish higher than any other Mount Zion team has in the past."