Atkins High team finishes second in State Championships

Atkins track runner Maiz Lawson, No. 4 in black, running in 4x400 meter relay.  The 4x400 meter relay team won the state championship for the Camels.

Atkins High team finishes  second in State Championships
June 08
05:00 2017

The Camels of Atkins High School are known more for their accomplishments inside the classroom rather than their athletic achievements.  The Camels boys track team is attempting to dispel this myth as they recently finished second in the outdoor state 1A track and field championships.

The Camels had All-State performances from their 4×800 meter relay team that placed first in the state; from their 4×400 meter relay finishing first; Jeremy Kankula, who won the 800 meter dash; the 4×200 meter relay team, who finished second in the state; and Ben Armentrout, who finished sixth in the 3200 meter run. 

Not being known as a contender on the track, the Camels came into the season as a bit of an unknown.  But as Head Coach Rufus Crouch said, “I knew we had a good team, but I don’t think many other people did. We surprised a lot of people but not me.”

“Everything pretty much developed from the indoor season because I pretty much had the same group of guys minus one or two people,” Crouch said.  “In the indoor season, we were very successful and based on that, I knew coming into the outdoor season we would finish in the top three in the state.”

“Based off of last years performance. I had high hopes for this year.  Each kid just needed to find their nitch and stick to the plan and the plan was to become state champions in our individual events.  Our times were up there with some of the 4A requirements, so I knew if they stayed with the vision I had for this track team, I knew we were going to be fine and happy.”

For the 4×800 team, they said they came into the meet with a great mindset and attitude.  They felt with their earlier performances in the year they would  fair well at the state meet.

“We are really just a humble group of guys,” said Elijah Nelson, 4×800 meter relay member.  “We don’t really talk a lot; we just go out there and do it.  It really didn’t hit me that we were state champions until my brother said something to me.”

Ben Armentrout, 4×800 meter relay member, added, “Looking at the times, states is the first time we really uncorked.  At the conference and regional meet, we hadn’t really had a ton of tight competition, so we did some research on the team seeded first and figured if we all did our best we could be state champions.”

Jeremy Kankula, 4×800 meter relay member, said.  “Going into the meet, I just told my team not to stress about their performance because at the end of the day, it’s us against them.  It was survival of the fittest and we went out there and performed like I thought we would.” 

Conner Rudel, 4×800 member, said he really wanted to get the win for the team because they had been disqualified the year before.  He said it felt like total redemption.  The entire 4×800 team is coming back next year and they expect to repeat as champions.

Ben Armentrout says at the beginning of the year he had some good performances, but as the year progressed, his times continued to drop. 

“I had a huge leap at indoor states and I kept getting better during the year,” he said.  “I have been continually dropping time throughout the year and then at states I didn’t run as fast but I still placed well in the heat.”

Kankula said going into the 800 meter dash, he was still on Cloud Nine after the team’s performance in the 4×800.  He said he was unsure what he had left in the tank, so he knew he had to run smart.  He said he let the pack lead for most of the race but toward the end of the race, he said, he gave it all he had and came away with his second state title in the event.

The 4×200 team members said the goal all year was to beat Mt. Airy because it was the best team in the state.  They said they came in knowing they had to have their best effort but just fell short by .14 seconds.

“When I was running, I was just thinking how good it would feel to beat their anchor leg finally because I have been running against him all season,” said Maiz Lawson, anchor leg of the 4×200 meter relay team.  “I was just trying to envision myself pulling ahead but I just couldn’t beat him.” 

The Camels will be moving up to 2A next season, and Jon Haggler said he is not worried because they are prepared for the lift in competition and knows they will have to put in more work.  They believe stronger competition will force them to run faster.

Crouch says he was proud of all of his guys this year.  He says even with the jump up to 2A he still expects to finish in the top three in the state. 

“As a coach, I am very happy with these guys,” he said.  “We are only losing a few guys and they are leaving on a high note.  The future is very bright for us.”

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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