Mount Zion boy’s track and field coach Jason Battles says his team has a good shot at winning this week’s county championship at Twelve Oaks Stadium. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
Clayton County Track and Field Championship
Where: Twelve Oaks Stadium in Hampton
When: Thursday, 4:30 p.m. field events; Friday, noon running finals.
JONESBORO — From all indications, this looks like this should be the year for the Mount Zion boys track and field team.
The Bulldogs are ranked ahead of DeKalb County powerhouse Stephenson in the latest ga.milesplit.com Class AAAAA rankings.
And with three elite caliber runners, Mount Zion might have what it takes to bring home its first boys state title since the 2000 season.
“I’m very excited about this season because this is probably the best group of track athletes we have had in a while,” Bulldogs coach Jason Battles said. “High school track is a lot about opportunity, and we have about three runners that already have scholarship offers.”
The nucleus of the team is built around sprinter Marquett Simmons, who is favored in the Class AAAAA 100- and 200-meters. Senior Andrew Nsuk is a middle distance and Jonathan Ross is also considered one of the team’s top runners.
The threesome also helped form both relay teams that are capable of scoring points at next month’s state meet in Jefferson.
But before Battles and the rest of his team looks toward state, they will participate in this week’s Clayton County Track and Field Championships at Twelve Oaks Stadium. Field events will take place on Thursday while the running finals will be held on Friday, starting at noon.
The Bulldogs will be trying to up-seed three-time defending champion Lovejoy, which appears strong in the field events.
“It just depends on what kind of help we get from other schools,” Battles said. “We know what we do well, and that is from the 800. We are not trying to speculate on what is going to happen, we looking to go in and do our best.”
To get ready for this week’s county meet, the Bulldogs participated in Saturday’s Run Fit Golden Eagle Invitational at Eagle’s Landing High in McDonough.
While host Eagle’s Landing won both the boys and girls division, Mount Zion finished fourth on the boys side behind the Golden Eagles, Griffin and Shaw. Mundy’s Mill finished eighth and Jonesboro took 12th place in the one-day meet.
Battles said this is team built more for state competition than bigger meets, but is confident in a good showing at county.
“We are better built for state, but I really think we can win county,” Battles said. “We have some guys that ran summer track, and we have some guys that are really leading by example.”
Simmons, who will likely sign with Division II Limestone College in South Carolina, said the team has been building its confidence each week with their success.
“We are getting prepared both physically and mentally,” Simmons said. “We have a lot of athletes that are contributing to the team. We were disappointed about state last year, but this year we will approach it like its just another track meet.”
Battles admits that there is some pressure this year, especially with a talented group of seniors.
“Last season was a letdown,” Battles said. “We do feel some pressure to do it. I think if we show up and perform like we are capable of doing, we will be in good shape.”