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PRC track and field ready for district meet

Pearl River Central’s track and field team has used this year’s meets to get its athletes accustomed to competing in preparation for the district meet that’ll take place April 8.

Several of PRC’s originally scheduled meets were cancelled, so the team’s last competitive outing was March 25 at the Sabbatini Relays in Biloxi.

There were several top five finishes including, Hannah Mitchell taking third place in the 1,600-meter run (6:04.10), Mitchell taking fourth place in the 3,200-meter run (13:18.71), the girls 4X400-meter relay team consisting of Aubrey Martin, Corrie Martin, Kiera Pittman and Kamryn Prestridge taking fifth place (5:25.49) and the boys 4X800-meter relay team consisting of Noah Waltman, Chayson Guerra, Jackson Lossett and Slade Malcolm taking fifth place (10:09.48).

“I knew going in that Biloxi was going to be our last meet before district, so I tried to put everybody in what I thought they would run at district. I was pleasantly surprised and it was a good ending to the regular season,” Coach Blake Rutherford said.

Rutherford’s roster is primarily made up of underclassmen with even a few middle school athletes.

While the squad members may not have as much training as older athletes, that hasn’t been a serious detriment for the Blue Devils.

“Aside from size and experience they’re all the same. They all put their pants on one leg at a time and they all bleed red. They’ve responded. Right up to the end of the season is when you want to peak and that doesn’t even cross their mind at this point, their youth,” Rutherford said.

Some of the young athletes will be competing in the district meet for the first time with the chance to move on to regionals.

Rutherford has a game plan as to which athletes will be competing in certain events, especially given the team’s strengths in specific areas.

“One of your roles as a coach is to see what we have, see the athletes coming in, see the equipment we have and maximize off of the things we’re good at. Middle distance and long distance…that right there along with field events is our bread and butter. That’s where (we’re) focused because that’s where we can be successful given our equipment and the hand we’re dealt,” Rutherford said.

The best of the best will be competing Thursday, and only the top four spots in each event advance to regionals.

In the past, PRC hasn’t seen many athletes get past the district meet, but Rutherford is hoping that changes this year.

“We give them all the same opportunity and we spread the love during the regular season, but when it gets down to district the fastest three are running, whether you’re in eighth grade or a senior. I think that realization and them buying in, knowing we’re serious, that realization has changed the culture and mindset,” Rutherford said.