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Jags boys, girls have relay title hopes

  • Liz Bloom/Jasper County Sun Times - Coach Anthony Elam holds the block for Ronald Zimmerman, the first runner of the mens 4x1 relay team. The men ran a 47.19 and finished third at the meet at Battery Creek on Mar. 8.

Before the 4-x-100-meter relay starts, all four Ridgeland-Hardeeville runners line up at the starting line.

After being checked in, each runner disperses to their respective 100-meter marking. From that point on each member of the relay team is on their own.

The relay races are the only events where runners compete as a team. The relays require the same amount of speed and endurance that any traditional race demands, but it adds in the reliance upon other runners — teammates, chemistry, and a different kind of practice.

The relay includes the sacred baton exchange; if the baton touches the ground the team is disqualified.

There’s a precise methodology for the exchange. Before the meet starts RHHS coach Anthony Elam lines up his relay teams on the back straightaway of the Battery Creek track and duos walk and then run through exchanges.

“You have to see what hand he reaches back with. If he reaches with this (right) one and you have it in that (right) hand, then you need to be on this side (left) of the lane,” Elam said to his boys relay team.

The boys relay team — Ronald Zimmerman, Jeremiah Atkins, Travis Taylor, and Devontay Dopson — is inexperienced. They’ve competed in the past, but this season Elam is training them harder.

“I’m expecting both the boys and girls relays to go to state — at least to Lower State,” said Elam.

In the meet March 8 at Battery Creek, the boys finished third with a time of 47.19. Last year’s boys 4-x-100 Class AAA state championship relay team ran 42.20.

“We need to work on our conditioning badly,” said Elam. “It’s nothing new.”

Elam’s girls relay team, led by standout sprinter Lenasia Singletary, is also expected to make a run for the state title. Last year his girls qualified and competed at the Class AA state meet and took fourth with a time of 49.88.

The girls return three of their four legs from last year’s team – Singletary, Timothea Green, and Kera Robinson.

This season, the team’s added Que Drayton.

Drayton, Singletary, and Green play basketball for RHHS’s girls team and Robinson ran with Green and Singletary on last year’s relay team. All four are familiar with each other, their running styles, and most importantly, they trust one another.

“This is Que’s first year running. She started out running last year, but then stopped so she could work on basketball,” said Elam. “They know they have to put in the work and they are really working hard.”

At Battery Creek, the girls relay ran a 50.21 and finished second behind Beaufort. It was their first time competing together. The slowest time of Class AAA girls at last year’s state meet was 50.84 seconds, but the fastest was 47.72 seconds by Beaufort.

“We always have competition with Beaufort – they give us the biggest competition,” said Elam.

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