The News Courier in Athens, Alabama


May 10, 2014

Tanner track trio brings home gold

Love 1st THS athlete to earn track scholarship; Hines, Jones 1st girls track athletes to win state

TANNER — It can be difficult to be the first to accomplish an athletic milestone when wearing a kelly green uniform stamped with the bright white Rattlers brand.

Competing for an athletic program with 11 individual and team state titles in three years, three Tanner track athletes have managed to be trailblazers while adding to the school’s trophy case.

And what was the reward for pulling off this feat despite not having a home track?

For senior hurdler Desmond Love, junior shot-putter LaMaurie Jones and freshman sprinter Precious Hines, it was having the opportunity to order state championship rings and taking a celebratory trip to Golden Corral and its chocolate fountain.

Thomas Harris, who has coached the boys and girls track teams with fellow Tanner teacher Terrance Galloway for the past nine seasons, said Jones and Hines became the first Tanner girls to win individual track championships at the Class 2A meet held May 3 in Selma.

Hines rang up three medals, clocking a 26.49-second time in the 200-meter dash to win gold and finishing third in the 100-meter dash and long jump.

“I was happy to win because it took hard work and dedication ... it was a blessing,” said Hines, who trained by running 200-meter drills “to the trees” and sprints on the football field in lieu of having a track surface.

Jones claimed a title on her final attempt, hurling a shot put 31 feet, 11.5 inches.

“It felt good to win because I thought I was going to lose before I won with my last throw,” Jones said. “The first person I called is my momma, and she didn’t believe me when I said, ‘Which finger should I put my ring on?’”

They were joined by Love, who added to his state ring collection by winning the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 40.96 seconds. He also earned a silver medal in the 110-meter hurdles.

“My goal was to win the 110 hurdles but I placed second, and I couldn’t leave without getting a ring my last year,” Love said.

Harris added that Love managed to win his race despite being in a slower, outside lane.

“You don’t normally win if you start from that lane — lanes 4, 5 and 6 are where the fastest (hurdlers) start from,” Harris said.

Love previously won three team championships at Tanner in track and basketball but this was his first individual title. And Thursday, he became the first Rattler to earn a track scholarship with an offer from Dodge City (Kansas) Community College.

All three won section titles in their events and set personal records at the state meet, according to Harris. The Tanner girls placed fifth at the state track meet for the first time in program history, while the boys also finished fifth after winning the 2A championship two years ago.

“We’re trying to instill that in our track teams, that winning championships is what we’re supposed to do,” Harris said. “That was the best finish our girls ever had and we’ve gone from having two athletes compete at state nine seasons ago to having more than 60 kids participate in track this year.”

In addition to the top-five team finishes and three individual titles, Chadarius Townsend won silver in the 200-meter dash and Baltazar “Tito” Rubio claimed silver in the shot put for the Rattlers.

Competing in the Class 3A meet, Clements High School long-distance runner Mack Van Wagnen earned a silver medal in the 3,200-meter race.

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