Rockdale County High School claimed the Class AAAAAA state title just one week ago from Saturday taking first place with a final score of 53. After a season marred with injuries early on, the Bulldogs were fully healthy when it all mattered and they took what they had been working for since late last year.
"The kids started working out on their own back in December," Venson Elder, RCHS head coach, said. "We put workouts on the board and they would go out in the cold, they'll run and they come back in and lift weights. Everything started back then."
Last year, the Bulldogs finished fourth in the state just one point behind second and half a point behind third. RCHS returned some of their best athletes from last season, including future Mississippi State track and field athlete Lawrence Crawford as well as a number of others such as Jhibri Greer and Keijne Thomas.
Some of the younger kids got a chance to step up at the beginning of the season when some of the seniors were dealing with injuries. The team managed to go undefeated when they were able to put an entire team out on the track and field, Elder said. The team knew they were top contenders based off last year's performance.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start last Thursday, Elder says they expected to get 14 to 16 points in the field events, but managed just three.
"Coming back Friday, we had to battle. Everybody had to qualify for the finals - that's Friday night - to give us a chance, and everybody did do that," Elder said. "We came back in on Saturday and the pride took over. The kids had worked hard. This is what we wanted, this is what we dreamed about the whole time and everybody got out their and they did their part and we won the state championship."
As a team they competed and fought back from the brink of elimination to win. Crawford and Greer were the Bulldogs' two individual title winners with Crawford taking No. 1 in both the 100 and 200m event and being a huge part of the 4x100 relay team. Greer won a title in the 110m hurdles with a new school record and personal best of 13.97. Greer also contributed in the the 300m hurdle event, adding five points to the team's total.
"Not many people see track and field as a team sport, but when it comes down to winning the state championship everybody had to come together as a team in order to make that happen," Elder said.
The Bulldogs took control on the final day of events and beat out second-place Archer by eight points.
Elder, immensely proud of his team, credits his exceptional coaching staff (Kelia Thomas and Everett Nicholas) this season saying they've done wonders for the program.