Jeremiah Holloman might be the headliner right now for Newton track and field, but look past his individual accomplishments and you’ll find a young Newton team that finished fourth overall at state this year.
Rockdale County took first place in Class AAAAAA this year, but similarly to Newton this year, the Bulldogs finished fourth last year.
“We faced them four times all year and we finished behind them four times all year and deservedly so, they’re the state champions,” Kevin Barnes, Rams head coach, said. “They have some great athletes and you have to give credit where it’s due. They had a great team. They had a lot of guys injured early in the season and we competed with ‘em all year long. I have a lot of respect for coach [Venson] Elder and what he’s doing with those guys. We have a bar that we have a chase and we know what it is. Like I said, ‘My guys are hungry.’ Fourth place will not be sufficient for us next year.”
The Rams will lose just two seniors that contributed to their scoring this year, and will return rising junior studs Holloman and Mushadi Ibere as well as rising seniors Artice Hobbs and Alex Sands.
“My main point scorers are sophomores so I got a lot to look forward to,” Barnes said.
Barnes isn’t making any excuses, but he says his team had a bad day at state. Sands, Barnes says, had the fastest time in the 200m heading into state, but he finished just seventh overall on the day. Barnes added that Sands can run a 10.72 in the 100m, which won state this year.
Ibere is a do-it-all athlete. He competes in multiple events including the high jump, the triple jump, the long jump, the pole vault and the 200m.
Barnes says the Rams also return their entire 4x100m relay team which includes Ibere, Sands, Hobbs and Rio Johnson. He added that five years ago they had a 4x100 relay team that won back-to-back state championships with a school record of 41:56. Barnes says this current team broke that record during the season, but couldn’t muster up that same speed at state.
“We worked hard,” Barnes said. “One of our main goals and our main mottos this year was ‘nobody’s going to work harder than us.’”
The Rams recognize that there are three teams better than them, but they also accept that fact as a challenge.
“Our goal right now is state championship or bust,” Barnes said.
“We just hungry and the state better be looking out for us next year.”