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Anderson County is looking to make a giant leap during this year's high school track season.
“We come in and jump,” Anderson coach Robert Meacham says with a grin. “We compete in the jumping events.”
Indeed. The Bearcats jump long. They jump high. They triple jump and they pole vault. Anderson has at least one, sometimes two, who could be contending for a berth in the state meet or a regional championship next month.
That is not to say Anderson does not have some strong performers in other events – the Bearcats and Lady Bearcats have several runners and throwers who could be competing when the state meet gets under way at the University of Louisville. But Anderson has at least two performers who could contend for a state berth in nearly every jumping event.
That is quite a change from 2012, when only two Bearcats made the state. Junior Tiffany Yount is the only state-qualifying returnee.
“This year, we are going to have a lot more,” says Meacham, who has returned to the head coaching sport after spending a year as an assistant coach.
Pole vaulter Cameron Robinson also qualified for the state last year.
Meacham served as Anderson's head track coach in 2010-11, but stepped down last year when his teaching position was eliminated. Meacham wanted to stay close to the Anderson program but was teaching at Fort Knox High School. Meacham, who is nationally certified to coach pole vault, worked with those participating in that event a year ago.
He resumed head coaching duties this year, replacing Adam Turner, but Meacham is working full-time in the Franklin County school system.
Meacham says newcomer Ross Cox and veteran Tyson Yett, both juniors, have enormous potential in the boys' high jump, while Yount and eighth-grader Alorra Sims give the Lady Bearcats a pair of big-time leapers.
Cox took first place in the highly-competitive Shelby County All-Comers meet with a 5-foot-10 -inch effort in the high jump while Yett placed third. Cox also took the long jump (19-06.5) with Yett placing fourth.
Yett won the triple jump at the same meet, then came back in the Boyle County All-comers on March 29 to place second in the high jump while Cox finished third.
“I have been trying to get Ross to jump since he was a freshman,” Meacham said. “What he did at Shelby (in Cox's first high school track competition) was not really a surprise. It was one of those situations where athletic ability took over.”
Meacham fully expects Cox and Yett be among the regional leaders by the end of the season.
On the girls' side, Yount and Sims have also been very strong early, with Sims taking the triple jump at both Shelby and Boyle while Yount took the high jump at Shelby and has been among the leaders in all the jumping events early in the season.
“One thing I love about having two (contenders) in the events is that we might not have a state champion or even the best athlete, but we have two,” Meacham says with a wry grin. “Someone else might score 10 points (for first place) but if we get second and third, we score 14.”
A team receives eight points for a second-place finish and six for a third.
Meacham Anderson has some other performers capable of big things, as well.
Freshman Connor Duncan set a state middle school record in the 300-meter hurdles and should be a regional contender in that event and the 110-meter event. “He's technically very sound, but what sets Connor apart is that he wants his name on the wall,” Meacham said, referring to the all-time Anderson records posted in the school lobby.
“He has that drive and that is something I can't coach,” Meacham says.
Meacham also expectes bing things from Casey Moninger, who runs the rare 400- and 800-meter double. “It is unusual because there is only one event between them,” Meacham says. “I told Casey, 'We will try them our for you. Either you are going to be good at the 400 and decent at 800 or good at 800 and decent at 400.'
“So I gave him some benchmarks of 53 seconds in the 400 and 2:15 in the 800. In his first meet, Casyhad a 53.4 and 2:16.”
“I knew then that Casey could be something special.”
Seventh-grader Ellie Buser is expected to be strong in the middle-distance events “Her times so far will compete in the region,” Meacham says. “She loves to race.”
Meacham says the Bearcats should get a boost from sophomore Connor Stockton in the shot put along with freshman Nathan McGregor in the discus.
Anderson undoubtedly has potential. Both the boys’ and girls’ teams finished second in the 11-team Shelby meet and fourth in the 13-team Boyle meet. But getting out of a rugged Class AAA (largest school) region that includes the Lexington public schools will be extremely difficult.
The Bearcats could have other performers develop as Meacham says better than 50 kids came out for the team. He feels the Bearcats can put together competitive relay teams that can score in the regional meet because of attention to technique.
He also has several who would be track's equivalent of “role players.”
“Those are the kids I like to coach,” Meacham says. “They have a personal record that is going to get better and they are going to show up for practice every day.
“I coach for the team. As much as track is an individual sport, I coach it as a team. I want one of those banners or trophies for the team. You don't get a trophy unless it is the team.”
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