ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior track coaches Eric Gould and Reggie Miller both agreed for their programs to hit the next level, they had to elevate their competition.
This is why the teams will participate in the Weddington Invitational Saturday as well as the Hillside and Pinecrest invitationals later this season.
“In order to get better we have to run outside of the conference,” Miller said. “If you don’t, when you get to regionals you’ll wish you ran in invitationals with teams like Knightdale or Southeast Raleigh.”
Southeast Raleigh captured last year’s 4A state girls championship and Knightdale snagged the boys title.
Gould added the beefed up schedule will help both teams during the Southeastern conference slate. Pinecrest finished third in the East Region girls meet and fourth on the boys side. Scotland was fifth in boys and 14th in girls. Hoke was ninth in the girls and 10th in the boys.
“Hoke has a pretty good program and Scotland has a pretty good program,” Gould said. “I don’t want to take anything away from the programs in the conference, but going to these outside meets is going to help us.”
After two years of heading the boys teams, Miller slides over to coach the girls this season. Gould will lead the boys squad after working as an assistant.
Gould said despite he and Miller having separate titles, they will work as one for the good of both teams.
“We are going to be there for each other,” Gould said.
Miller chimed in and says the designations are just for show.
“Eric and I are one unit,” Miller said. “We talked about this before the season, the only difference is my title is coaching the girls and his is the boys. What the boys do, the girls are going to do as well.”
Last year the boys squad sent five individuals to regionals in eight different events, as well as its 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams. The girls squad was represented by its 4x100 team.
“We were young last year,” Gould said. “We have good numbers this year and we have some good guys that will either help us this year or the next.”
Among Gould’s returnees is Raheem Bowden, who qualified for the regionals in the high jump and the 200. He was also a member of the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams. All of the members of those teams — Isaiah Brewington, Gus Chambers, Travis Newton and Bowden — are back this year.
Also back for Gould are Erran Green and Tafari Rose, members of the 4x400 relay team.
Miller believes he can “give the girls program a boost” and make it a contender in the SEC.
“We have the same caliber of sprinters the boys have,” Miller said. “They have the salt, they just need a little pepper.”
Among Miller’s returnees are: Asiana Douglas, who was second in the SEC meet in the triple jump, fourth in the high jump and fifth in the long jump; Brianna David, who was fourth in the 300-meter hurdles; Tia Smith, who was fifth in the 100; and Brianna Everett, who was sixth in both the 200 and 400.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.