East­side look­ing for more suc­cess af­ter state ti­tle sea­son

The Covington News - - SPORTS - TAY­LOR ROBINS sports@cov­news.com

COV­ING­TON — Af­ter bring­ing home a state cham­pi­onship last year, the East­side track team is fully fo­cused on gear­ing up for its new spring sea­son.

The Ea­gles hosted Al­covy for their first track meet of the sea­son on Thurs­day.

“I think we’re okay,” said East­side coach Frankey Iver­son. “(The Al­covy meet was) our first one out of the box. (It was) our first time we (did) com­pe­ti­tion against some­one else.”

Al­though East­side lost se­niors last year, the team still has promis­ing ta­lent.

“We may be more well-rounded this year,” said Iver­son.

Some of that was shown dur­ing the meet with Al­covy with sev­eral younger ath­letes turn­ing in strong per­for­mances, par­tic­u­larly in the track events. Run­ners like fresh­man Javon King who an­chored East­side’s 4x100 team Thurs­day and ju­nior An­thony Thomas who broke a school record in the 1600 me­ters.

Fri­day was a good day for the Ea­gles too, as Mil­lion Con­nally-Cooper took home gold Fri­day in the shot put at the Candace Hill In­vi­ta­tional at Rock­dale High. He recorded a 46-foot-3 inch throw to take the top spot. King also showed well at the Rock­dale meet, plac­ing third in the long jump and eighth out of 21 run­ners in the 100m dash.

East­side in­di­vid­ual state cham­pion Eric Stokes is re­cov­er­ing from mi­nor knee surgery. Stokes may be cleared by doc­tors to re­sume with sports and be­gin train­ing within the next two weeks. He will be on the track by the time East­side gets into re­gional meets.

“I had to have surgery but other than that I’m fine,” said Stokes. “I think I should have a way bet­ter year (this year) be­cause I’m more flex­i­ble with the things that (the coaches) have me do­ing. They’re mak­ing me work more mus­cles, so I should be faster than last year.”

That’s say­ing a lot, con­sid­er­ing Stokes, a se­nior and UGA foot­ball signee, was widely re­garded as one of the fastest high school run­ners in the na­tion, let alone Ge­or­gia. Stokes hurt his menis­cus dur­ing the Lo­ganville foot­ball week this past sea­son.

“I played on it with a brace the whole time,” he said. “I didn’t know how bad it was un­til the foot­ball off-sea­son.”

Dur­ing last year’s state cham­pi­onship meet, Stokes won the 100 and 200 me­ter dash. He also was a part of the win­ning 4x100 re­lay. Stokes isn’t new to win­ning in state. Dur­ing his sopho­more year, he also claimed gold in the 400 me­ter dash.

It’s be­cause of this mix of young, emerg­ing ta­lent and proven speed re­turn­ing that Iver­son, the 12-year coach, has hopes for a state re­turn. But that be­gins, he says, by his team tak­ing the sea­son one meet at a time.

“As long as the kids are pro­gress­ing I’m happy,” said Iver­son. “If (a state re­turn) hap­pens and we get there and per­form well, then we’ll see how that goes.

“They are ac­tu­ally pretty com­pa­ra­ble. We started off slow last year. That’s al­ways ex­pected with how we train. I’m not re­ally wor­ried. I just want them to come out and com­pete and just let the chips fall where they may. Our kids train hard so I’m not re­ally wor­ried. Once we get into the re­gion in that time of year, I think we’ll be fine.”

Pho­tos by | The Cov­ing­ton News

East­side fresh­man Javon King, cen­ter, runs the an­chor leg in the East­side boys’ 4x100 re­lay team that was vic­to­ri­ous against Al­covy Thurs­day.

East­side se­nior Dar­ian Davis sprints to­ward a first place fin­ish dur­ing the 400 me­ters in East­side’s re­cent home track meet.

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