FAST FLOCK: Record-Setting Eagles' Relays Experienced, Confident
MOST PEOPLE DREAD MONDAYS. LOATHE THEM. FORT BEND CHRISTIAN ACADEMY TRACK AND FIELD COACH DEON MINOR EXCITEDLY AWAITS THEM.
His girls relay teams managed to do something special each week, often in record-breaking fashion throughout the 2022 season.
“It’s like every single week, I’m looking for something good to happen with these girls,” Minor said.
In the first couple of months of the season, the girls’ relays set four school records.
The 4x100 of senior Angel Nwodu, junior Brooke Coleman, senior Gabbie Washington and freshman Bayleigh Minor, Deon’s daughter, set a new mark at 48.04 seconds and the 4x200 of Coleman, Nwodu, Washington and Minor established a new pace at 1:41.09.
The 4x400 of Washington, Coleman, junior Daniella Herrera, and Minor reset at 3:53.40 and the 4x800 of Minor, Washington, freshman Sidney Arnold and senior Madeline Font went 10:23.29.
The 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 records were broken at the prestigious 94th Texas Relays on the grounds of the University of Texas in Austin in March.
“It showed me what I believed these girls could do,” Minor said.
Washington added: “We’re really strong mentally in practices and work really hard. We know that’s how we’re going to run in the meets. Coach tells us every practice that everything we do has a purpose. We know that. We had a goal, and that was State.” THE
PAIN OF PRACTICE
But how did they get to this point? How did they go from a sixth-place finish at the TAPPS State Track Meet in 2021 to this?
Minor’s practices are a big ingredient to the Eagles’ success.
He plans the season’s training program 4-6 weeks in advance. Instead of doing speed work at the start, like most teams do, Minor prioritizes volume and strength. He said that has helped avoid injuries.
By the time Minor has the girls doing speed work around late March, times are fast because strength has been built up.
By mid-April, about a month before the State Meet in Waco, the Eagles were running like a fine-tuned machine.
“We’re a very competitive group,” Coleman said. “We like to push ourselves to new limits. We’re proving to ourselves, not just everybody else, what we can do.”
Nwodu, Washington and Coleman were on the State Champion 4x200 relay last year. Nwodu is also a State Champion in the 100-meter dash.
Coleman is finally healthy after running at about “70 percent” last season because of a hip injury. She still finished second at State to Nwodu in the 100 meters.
“Especially while I was injured, I was working on my mental side of things,” Coleman said. “Coming into this year, I was just so much better mentally and physically, and that transitioned onto the track. I’m more confident in what I’m out here to do.”
Bayleigh Minor may be a freshman, but her credentials belie her years. She is a 10-time AllAmerican and AAU Junior Olympics champ in the 400 meters.
She also played middle blocker for the Eagles’ State Championship volleyball team in the fall.
“If you have good team chemistry, like we do, a team can do anything,” she said. “We have a lot of talented athletes where we don’t want to just be successful for ourselves, we want to do it for the team.”
Herrera, a move-in this year from Colombia who has been running for six years, has quickly assimilated to the American culture, on and off the track.
“There’s so much talent,” Herrera said. “It was scary at first. I didn’t know if I was really at the American level of running. But so far, I’ve done well, with the help of my teammates. ‘
“Once I got put in the relays and helped break one of the records, that’s when I knew I would be fine.”
‘IRON SHARPENS IRON’
Minor has something this season he hasn’t had in his time at FBCA so far. Depth. “I can move kids around, and they’re really good at making adjustments,” he said. “They’re trusting what we’re doing.”
Minor will switch runners around in relays. For instance, he feels Bayleigh is a better runner on the second leg, so he often tried Herrera or Washington as the anchor. Minor was also working junior Lani Brown, a volleyball standout, more and more into the mix, running her with the district champion 4x200 relay in late April.
“Last year, we had only six girls,” Washington said. “If one person was out, we kind of just had to work with what we had. Now, we have more alternates, and if something goes wrong, we know there’s always somebody there to step up. It’s great to have more competition at practice. Iron sharpens iron.”
FBCA won the TAPPS 5A District Championship, scoring 226 points as a team. At the TAPPS South Regional Meet at the end of April, FBCA scored 156 points to that Regional crown.
At the TAPPS State Track & Field Meet in May, FBCA girls brought home the team State Championship for the first time in program history.