Dallas County’s Shay Spradley leaps over hurdles during a meet earlier this season at Montgomery Academy. -- Hailey Dolbare
Dallas County’s Shay Spradley leaps over hurdles during a meet earlier this season at Montgomery Academy. -- Hailey Dolbare

Dallas County set to host invitational as season nears finish

Published 6:35pm Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Dallas County High School Hornets are bringing teams from around Alabama to Selma in order to gain more experience before the state finals in May.

The Hornets will host their 2nd Annual Dallas County Invitational track meet on Tuesday at Memorial Stadium beginning at 10 a.m. and running throughout the day.

Robert Dolbare, head track and field coach of Dallas County High School, said the meet says a lot about the recognition the Hornets have gained in only their third year back as a track and field program.

“I think it says a lot about our ability to build relationships with other people. I think it brings a lot of credibility to our meet. We had good response last year based on the teams that came. We’ve picked up teams that have come,” Dolbare said. “To me, when you’re competitive, other teams want to come compete in the same setting and that does nothing but give us the chance to get better with every time we host something like this.”

Along with the Hornets, 24 other teams are set to participate in Tuesday’s meet, including Billingsley, Elmore County, Goshen, Hillcrest-Evergreen, Holtville, Isabella, J.F. Shields, Jeff Davis, Jemison, Linden, Maplesville, Marbury, Montevallo, Pickens County, Prattville, R.C. Hatch, Selma, Sidney Lanier, Southside-Selma, St. Jude, Thorsby, Verbena, Wetumpka and Stanhope Elmore.

Dolbare said the meet is good for Selma and will offer spectators a chance to see some of the state’s best.

“I think it’s great for the city of Selma, and truthfully, if someone in the area has never been to a track meet, they would be in for a real pleasure if they came out on Tuesday,” Dolbare said. “Some of the best athletes in the state will be there.”

As with their upcoming invitational on Tuesday, the Hornets have been participating in meets all season in preparation for the Alabama High School Athletic Association state meets on May 3-4.

The Hornets were one of the teams that participated in the Demopolis High School meet on Wednesday.

Dolbare said the Hornets have gained valuable experience in each meet.

“I just think every meet is another step in the right direction for the team. We just have to keep improving with every meet,” Dolbare said. “We ran at Demopolis yesterday, and we had a very good showing, but we still have plenty to improve upon as we move toward sectionals. We have a relatively young team this year. We lost some key pieces from last year and we’re just continuing to learn, but the kids continue to work hard and be very competitive against everyone we go up against.”

During the Demopolis meet, the Hornets finished with a team record of 228 total points.

Highlights for Dallas County included Xavier Knight finishing first in the boys 110-meter hurdles with a time of 17.19, Shaquitta Shields finishing first in the girls 100-meter dash with a time of 12.31, Knight finishing first in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 43.44, Jena Johnson finishing first in the girls 800-meter run with a time of 3:00.84, Shields finishing second in the 200-meter dash with a time of 27.80, and Jay Barnett finishing first in the boys long jump with a best of 22-10.

Other notable finishes for the Hornets include Shay Spradley finishing second in the girls discus with a best of 82-7, Jemere Jackson finishing second in the boys long jump with a best of 21-0, Quintavious Parker finishing second in the boys 110-meter hurdles with a time of 18.10, and Austin Williams finishing third in the boys 800-meter run with a time of 2:22.

Dallas County also had second-place finishes in the girls 400-meter relay with a time of 52.51, and the boys 4×800-meter relay with a time of 9:29.

Ultimately, Dolbare said he wants to see the Hornets improve mentally with each meet they participate in.

“The biggest thing that we need to improve on at this point is just mentality — understanding mentally what we’ve got to bring every meet and understanding how to rise to the occasion against all different levels of competition,” Dolbare said. “I don’t think you can discount at all being able to run against the best athletes in our area in the state. That should be what every athlete is striving to do, and I try to place the kids in a setting where they can do that as many times as possible.”

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