Cougars begin quest for fifth title Monday

Published 9:19 am Monday, February 28, 2011

The Escambia Academy Cougars track and field team will begin practice on Monday seeking to add another state championship trophy in the sport.

The Cougars have won the previous four championships for Class 2A and will seek their fifth straight this spring.

Cougars head coach Heath Gibson said his team has a good shot at repeating again.

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“We’ve got Jaylen Henry back along with a lot of our team, so we are in good shape,” he said. “I feel like this year, we’ll rely more on our speed than we have had in years past. In previous years, our focus was on our long distance running, but now our speed seems to be our larger asset.”

One thing that will hurt the Cougars is the loss of one track athlete who was injured last fall.

Braxton Chastang will sit out this season, while he rehabs a leg that he broke in an incident unrelated to athletics.

Gibson said not having his hurdler will be an issue.

“It’ll hurt us not having Braxton,” he said. “He was a sure thing to win the 300m hurdles and the 110m hurdles, which he finished second in last year to his cousin from Fort Dale. His cousin has graduated, so it looked like it would be Braxton’s year.”

Once practice begins on Monday, the Cougars will work to get in the proper shape for the track season.

The weather has been an issue in beginning practices, but the Cougars have still been working by lifting weights.

Gibson said now that warmer weather has arrived, the team will begin getting in the proper shape.

“Monday, we will begin our stretching and flexibility exercises,” he said. “We’ve been waiting for warmer weather before we decided to get outside. Once their muscles are stretched, we will begin running to get their cardio up and then we will begin practicing skills like coming out of the blocks.”

To earn a fifth consecutive state championship, the Cougars will need all the points they can get at events during the meets.

Gibson said it will be a full team effort to earn the points necessary.

“It’s going to be earned by every member of our team,” he said. “We are going to need as many points in the events we are in. Our participants in the field events will be huge for us, if we are able to have guys that can get high points. I know one area we will get points in will be the long jump because Jaylen always registers a good jump. Jarret Hadley will get some points to because his high jump is strong. We also need strong runs from our long distance runners.”