BEING CLOSE, just isn’t good enough when it comes to the competitive world of Texas high school track and field.
Eisenhower girls’ relay teams have been close the past two seasons, but self-inflicted wounds like dropped batons on exchanges have kept the Eagles from reaching the final track meet of the year in Austin.
Coach Ahmad Roper has watched this happen the past two years and is ready for the 2019 season to be the dawning of a new standard.
“This year, it’s unfinished business,” Roper said. “I told them, we have to take care of business. We get hyped up because we have one of the fastest times in the state, but we’re not at the big dance.”
In 2017, Eisenhower sent its 4X200-meter relay team to state, where it finished eighth overall with a time of 1:38.48. Last season, no relay teams made the trip to Austin, failing to get out of regionals.
“It was that lack of execution throughout the year that caught up to us when we really needed it,” Roper said about last season.
The consistent message to his team during the offseason has been about consistency and discipline.
If his group buys into that message, he believes they will be able to make the run needed to get to state because they have the raw talent to get there. The core of the girls’ track team includes Iyana Gray, Darnee Williams, Kiana Rollins, Jaiya Covington, Tytiania Morrison, Hannah Simmons, Chanelle Houston, Deshawn Petitt and DeJanee Washington.
This season, Eisenhower girls brought home the 2019 Spring ISD Invitational crown in mid- February. To start March, the Eagles’ 4X200-meter relay team broke the meet record at the Walter Heintschel Relays with a time of 1:38.6.
“As far as running, we’re faster this year and that’s contributed to our offseason program,” Roper said. “We’re all-in and I’m constantly staying on them about each rep getting better and not getting complacent.”
At the time of this story being written, Eisenhower owned the second-fastest 4X200-meter relay time in Texas just three-10ths of a second behind Summer Creek. The Eagles’ 4X100-meter relay ranked No. 6 in Texas at this time as well.
To get their times to go down as each meet passes, Roper said that it really boils down to individual work.
“Our relays are going to run fast if you get faster individually,” Roper said. “I tell my group, right now we don’t have anybody on this team who can make it to state by themselves. But we can make it as a team on those relays.
“When I see you getting faster individually, I know our relays are going to be good.”
To continue to get faster, the work comes in practice where teammates push each other.
“Chemistry is important because even though it is an individual sport, it’s the team that helps you push yourself,” Roper said. “It’s hard to practice by yourself. The chemistry comes in when you have a teammate pushing you on one of those days that you’re just down and you really don’t want to work.”
If the Ike girls keep working to get faster individually and buy-in to Roper’s teachings this spring, the Lady Eagles could be booking accomodations to Austin.