By Taylor Robins
After bringing home a state championship last year, the Eastside track team is fully focused on gearing up for its new spring season.
The Eagles hosted Alcovy for their first track meet of the season on Thursday.
“I think we’re okay,” said Eastside coach Frankey Iverson. “(The Alcovy meet was) our first one out of the box. (It was) our first time we (did) competition against someone else.”
Although Eastside lost seniors last year, the team still has promising talent.
“We may be more well-rounded this year,” said Iverson.
Some of that was shown during the meet with Alcovy with several younger athletes turning in strong performances, particularly in the track events. Runners like freshman Javon King who anchored Eastside’s 4x100 team Thursday and junior Anthony Thomas who broke a school record in the 1600 meters.
Friday was a good day for the Eagles too, as Million Connally-Cooper took home gold Friday in the shot put at the Candace Hill Invitational at Rockdale High. He recorded a 46-foot-3 inch throw to take the top spot. King also showed well at the Rockdale meet, placing third in the long jump and eighth out of 21 runners in the 100m dash.
Eastside individual state champion Eric Stokes is recovering from minor knee surgery. Stokes may be cleared by doctors to resume with sports and begin training within the next two weeks. He will be on the track by the time Eastside gets into regional meets.
“I had to have surgery but other than that I’m fine,” said Stokes. “I think I should have a way better year (this year) because I’m more flexible with the things that (the coaches) have me doing. They’re making me work more muscles, so I should be faster than last year.”
That’s saying a lot, considering Stokes, a senior and UGA football signee, was widely regarded as one of the fastest high school runners in the nation, let alone Georgia. Stokes hurt his meniscus during the Loganville football week this past season.
“I played on it with a brace the whole time,” he said. “I didn’t know how bad it was until the football off-season.”
During last year’s state championship meet, Stokes won the 100 and 200 meter dash. He also was a part of the winning 4x100 relay. Stokes isn’t new to winning in state. During his sophomore year, he also claimed gold in the 400 meter dash.
It’s because of this mix of young, emerging talent and proven speed returning that Iverson, the 12-year coach, has hopes for a state return. But that begins, he says, by his team taking the season one meet at a time.
“As long as the kids are progressing I’m happy,” said Iverson. “If (a state return) happens and we get there and perform well, then we’ll see how that goes.
“They are actually pretty comparable. We started off slow last year. That’s always expected with how we train. I’m not really worried. I just want them to come out and compete and just let the chips fall where they may. Our kids train hard so I’m not really worried. Once we get into the region in that time of year, I think we’ll be fine.”