Parkland’s girls are pumped about the opportunity to perform in one of the premier events in high school track and field. The Mustangs expect to mount a strong challenge for top-three finishes in the sprint relays at the New Balance Indoor Track Nationals set for March 14-16 in New York City.
Entering the nationals, Parkland, who won the Class 4-A state indoor track team title last month, is ranked among the elites in the 4×200 and 4×400 relay. Earlier this season, the Mustangs clocked 1:40.42 in the 4×200, fourth-fastest in the nation. In the 4×400, they’ve run 3:53.50, eighth on the national list.
In both relay races, Parkland will contend against No. 1 Columbia of New Jersey, who has the nation’s fastest times so far (1:38.99 in the 4×200; 3:46.42 in the 4×400).
Coach Antwan Hughes has no doubts that his team is sufficiently equipped to handle the big stage. Baton exchanges, he explained, will have a lot to do with how Parkland (Katlin Sherman, Ebony Williams, Myshale Spigner and Erin Morrison) fares in the 4×200.
“We accomplished one of our goals by winning the state indoor championship,” said Hughes.
“Now we want to take it a step further and go for a national title. We’ve had two good weeks of training, so physically and conditioning-wise, they’re ready to run their best times. But we still have to take care of the little things, and that means executing our handoffs with precision. It’s a matter of putting it all together and then we’ll see what happens.”
Hughes admits that based on times, Parkland is probably a long-shot to win the 4×400. He’s confident, however, that Spigner, Williams, Sherman and Morrison can more than hold their own.
“It’s going to take a 3:45 or 3:46 to win it,” said Hughes. “So, we’ll need all four runners to run their personal best on the same day. They’ll have to run the race of their lives. It is possible.”
Parkland’s indoor success is expected to carry over to the outdoor season. The Mustangs finished last outdoor season in fine fashion by sweeping the 4×100, 4×200 and 4×400 relays at the NCHSAA 4-A Championships.
Entering this outdoor season, the NCRunners web site has Parkland slotted at No. 1 in the state’s preseason rankings for Class 4-A girl’s teams. The Mustangs figure to be even stronger with the return of 400-meter sprinter McKinley McNeil, who didn’t compete for Parkland during the indoor season.