The Covington News - - SPORTS -

And in a word, that’s why he ran. His team­mates. The team. It was the fi­nal hur­rah in a sto­ried track and field ca­reer that has seen him run times that rank among the fastest of any high school sprinter in the na­tion. And stokes knew he wasn’t go­ing to be break­ing any sound bar­ri­ers on this last go-round. But it wasn’t about that.

“He told me, ‘ This is the last race of my ca­reer, Coach, and I’m gonna run it,’” Iver­son said, re­gard­ing the 4x100 re­lay.

He ran the an­chor leg, with the thought that Iver­son may need him to help catch who­ever was in front. But that wasn’t nec­es­sary. Thanks to strong starts by An­thony Thomas and fresh­man Jo­van King, and a solid, sus­tain­ing per­for- mance from fresh­man Matthew Brown, by the time Brown put the ba­ton into Stokes’ hands – some­thing Brown’s been do­ing since he and Stokes were fresh­men – the Ea­gles were main­tain­ing a de­cent lead, and Stokes had enough juice in him to close it out.

“It re­ally de­pended upon whether we could keep it close,” Iver­son said. “We’d seen Luella run at re­gions as well as sec­tion­als, and we knew if we could pos­si­bly get it close enough, Eric could run a guy down if need be. But we were in a great po­si­tion. I couldn’t be more proud of those guys.”

Thomas’ story is par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing. Ear­lier in the sea­son, Thomas went out and broke the East­side school record for the 1600 me­ter run. And al­though, as a dis­tance run­ner, he seemed an un­likely fit to a cham­pi­onship 4x100 team, Iver­son and his staff had a gut feel­ing that it could work.

“An­thony’s an 800 guy,” Iver­son said. “It’s a funny story. He kept get­ting faster through­out the year. And when he got 50 points in the 400, me and my coaches looked at each other and said that you’ve gotta be pretty fast to do that. So I asked what they thought about him run­ning the four-by-one, and we all said, ‘Let’s try it.’”

Iver­son said he’s pleased with how his guys fin­ished this year, and is ex­cited about what’s re­turn­ing.

“Last year, we just had a dif­fer­ent kind of team,” he said. “And there were some guys you just didn’t know were gonna be as good as they were. We had some luck, which you need to win a state cham­pi­onship. But these guys had a great com­pet­i­tive spirit this year. And we’ve got some young guys like Jo­van re­turn­ing. I think we’re go­ing to be in good shape.”

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