Freshman Kyle Terrell will compete in the triple jump, while sophomore Elijah Ross will run in the 100-meter dash.
“They’ve been very persistent and both have gotten stronger and faster. It paid off for them and is showing right now. They’re excited and I’m excited about it. It says a lot for your program when you can get the young guys to come in here and step up,” Central coach Montrell McClendon said.
The Lions will continue their trips to Jefferson under McClendon, who has taken at least one person to state every year. Last year led by Cam Holt, Central had one of its strongest showings at the state meet. With just two participants going this year, the Lions won’t match that team score, but it sets a foundation for the next few years.
“I tell them to just relax. Kyle has three years ahead of him and Elijah has two more years. Just relax, go have fun, run your best and jump your best that day. Both of these guys have been really level-headed this year. I don’t think it will be different when they get to state,” McClendon said.
Terrell knows he has come a long way throughout the season and has passed a lot of expectations as a freshman. And as long as he’s in Jefferson, he might as well try to win.
“I’m excited for it. My first year coming out here and trying to compete with the seniors and the upperclassmen, it’s a privilege to be out here and go to state. I had to beat some seniors and some people get up here. I’m excited,” Terrell said. “I want to go there and try to win, that’s my mindset. It’s going to be tough. You don’t want to say you can’t win, you’ve got to try it. At least get top eight and make it to the finals.”
For Ross, the goal is to get his 100 time under 10.9 seconds. The sophomore comes in with a 10.91 qualifying time that puts him sixth out of the 16 state qualifiers. While it’s not win or bust with two more years to compete, there is still a chance Ross could find himself on the podium.
“I’m looking forward to competing, but not just trying to win because I am an underclassman. I feel like I have a pretty good chance coming out of one of the strongest regions. We should do pretty good,” Ross said.
Now the young Central pair will have a chance to take on the best in the state.
“All year I just preached to them that [the state meet] is not about the guys in the local community, it’s about the state of Georgia. What are the other guys in Georgia doing because when you get there, that’s who you’re going to compete against so you have to step your game up to the maximum level you can possibly get it. When you get there, you know you’re dealing with the best of the best,” McClendon said.
And now a pair of Lion underclassmen are part of that group.
“They are. They’re stepping their game up every meet and now here’s the payoff right here. You get a chance to go down in history with the greats. Everybody doesn’t get a chance to do this every year. It’s a good thing and they know it,” McClendon said.