Mount Zion senior Andrew Nsuk has a good shot at winning the 400 meters at the Region 4-AAAAA Track and Field Championship on Thursday. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
JONESBORO — Mount Zion coach Jason Battles is not willing to make any predictions about this week’s Region 4-AAAAA Track and Field Championships, but he is confident that his team can do well.
The strength of Battles’ Bulldog team is built on the sprint events and the team’s two relays.
“To be honest, I’m not presuming that we are going to run away with this meet,” Battles said. “There are some good teams and athletes in our region. We will get some points in some areas, and other teams will get points in their strength areas. It all depends on how the pie is cut up.”
The region championships will be held today and Thursday at Starr’s Mill High in Fayetteville. The top four finishers in each event will move on to next week’s Sectionals, which will also be held at Starr’s Mill on April 26.
But the first order of business is getting his team through a competitive region meet.
The Bulldogs are coming off the county championship meet, which was held two weeks ago at Twelve Oaks Stadium. Mount Zion dominated in the 800-meters and down events to win the championship.
Seniors Marquett Simmons and Andrew Nsuk have been the leaders for the Bulldogs, who were the top-ranked team in the latest ga.milesplit.com rankings. The Bulldogs were ranked ahead of Stephenson.
In addition to Simmons and Nsuk, who are ranked among the top sprinters in the state this season, 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.
“We want to get as many of our guys qualified and into the sectionals as possible,” Battles said. “I think we should come out of region well enough to take some points to the state meet. It all depends on how our guys are running this week. We are going to get points in areas we do well in, and other teams will get points in their strong areas.”
Simmons, who will likely sign with Div. II Limestone College in South Carolina, is the county champion in the 100 and 200 events. Nsuk competes in the 400 and 800 events, and also teams with Simmons on both relays.
Simmons’ younger brother, Josh, has a shot at qualifying in the 300 hurdles and also competes in the 400. Battles also thinks that Ross can qualify in the 110 hurdles.
“We have a few guys that should do well,” Battles said.
The coach said he is not concerned that the team is coming off spring break, and didn’t practice as much. He said they held two workouts last week.
“To be honest, I’m not that concerned,” Battles said. “I don’t think we would have practiced that much last week any way. We want the guys to have fresh legs. We are as ready as we are going to be at this point in the season. If they are not ready now, then I didn’t do my job over the course of the season.”