Drew Rogers says that it was a total team effort. From the athletes to the group of four coaches, the success of North Hall’s girls’ track and field team was a collaborative effort in which many people are deserving of recognition.
The Lady Trojans had their best season in school history, finishing in fourth place at the Class AAA state meet in May, and crowning the school’s first-ever individual track and field champion.
For his team’s success, Rogers, North Hall’s girls track and field head coach, is the area Coach of the Year.
“First of all, we had hard-working kids,” Rogers said. “You can give me the award, but it is really because of our hard working kids and we also have a group of three really hard working coaches that are the best assistant coaches around.”
The assistant coaches Rogers referred to include: Art DaCosta, a distance running specialist; Jimmy Quinn, a throw coach that specialized in discus and shot put; and Kerry Kidd, the boys head coach who worked with the pole vault specialists.
North Hall’s fourth place finish at state came after failing to win the Region 7-AAA championship. But, the Lady Trojans were able to find their stride through the sectional meet and carry that momentum into the state meet.
“When you work hard, it doesn’t show up early,” Rogers said. “It takes a while to reap the benefits of what you do over a four-month season. They really came on over the second half of the season.”
On a team with just 21 competitors — Rogers admits the team lacked quantity but was high on quality.
North Hall had seven girls compete in the state meet in Albany, one of which became a state champion.
While Gabrielle Hoffman competes in several events, pole vault is her top event. The rising senior works year-round on the event, aiming to become the best.
That hard work paid off when she went 10-0 in the state meet and claimed the individual state championship, just the second individual state championship in school history among runners (Holly Bright won a cross country championship in the late 1990’s).
“We felt like she had a good chance, and she went down there and had a good day at the state meet,” Rogers said of Hoffman. “She had only lost once all year, which was at a big meet at Mill Creek where she was going against tough competition from Class AAAAA and AAAAAA.
“One thing about her is she does so many things. Our problem was figuring out what things to put her in. She qualified for state in the (110-meter) hurdles, she ran the 400 (meter) early in the year, and we put her in the triple jump the second half of the year and she qualified for sectionals.”
Along with Hoffman, the Lady Trojans had six others compete in the state meet. Harper Seymour, a rising junior, placed second in the shot put and third in the discus. Rogers’ daughter, Victoria, who has signed with Mercer, placed fourth in both the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
Makayla Ellis, a rising junior, placed sixth in the 3200-meter run and eighth in the 1600-meter run. Trini Puente competed in the 100- and 200-meter hurdles; Nana Awuku competed in the 300-meter hurdles and also set a new school-record in the 100-meter dash; Katie McDowell competed in the 800-meter run at state.
Moving forward, Rogers, who also serves as North Hall’s cross country coach, hopes the momentum that built from a successful track season can carry over into the fall running program.