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PRC track to use state meet and season to grow program

Pearl River Central’s track team sent a single runner to the state meet in Pearl, Mississippi May 6, and the experiences of the meet and season will be used to draw in new athletes.

Hannah Mitchell competed in the 3,200-meter race and finished in eighth place with a time of 13:33.29.

Mitchell was the only athlete from PRC to attend the state meet after coming in fourth at the south state competition to qualify.

The sophomore dealt with a plethora of hindrances leading up to the meet, but still put on a good performance.

“What I’m impressed with is the time she put up was a great time for the situation and the day. They were supposed to have it on Saturday, then changed the date three different times. I think we took a step in the correct direction and now she is a state competitor level athlete, so next year hopefully she’ll move up a little bit,” Head Coach Blake Rutherford said.

While only one Blue Devil made it to state in 2021, Rutherford has grand plans for the program to become dominant and send several athletes each year.

That starts with making the most of the team’s success this season in order to garner interest from athletes in other sports.

“We’re on the right trajectory. Our plan as a track team is to have rewards. It’s a reward for Hannah to go to state, but that’s Hannah’s goal and what she worked for. I think us rewarding her and us as a team creating a booster club, creating an awards ceremony or banquet will dot the I and cross the T,” Rutherford said.

PRC doesn’t have a track to practice on, so the meets serve as learning opportunities for the athletes to brush up on specific techniques, lingo and track markings.

The entirety of the squad is returning next year, so having that experience and understanding will only benefit the program moving forward.

“I say it all the time that this is pennies in the piggy bank. You’re literally cutting half of your knowledge just by not having a track, so having a full season under our belt and being young, with the pandemic hopefully coming to an end and things getting back to normal, this just adds to the stuff we’re missing. This is just building on their knowledge,” Rutherford said.