Dallas County track program resurgent after long absence

Published 10:18 am Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dallas County High School’s William Maze, right, competes in an event during the school’s track meet at Memorial Stadium in April. This season marked the second year back for the Hornets after a 10-year hiatus for the program. -- Robert Hudson

After a decade-long absence, the Dallas County High School boys and girls track and field program continues to make strides after completing its second season back.

The Hornets wrapped up their second year back as a program after a 10-year hiatus, with their completion of the Alabama High School Athletic Association Class 4A-6A state track meet in Gulf Shores earlier this month.

Robert Dolbare, head track and field coach for Dallas County High School, said the Hornets have been building the program back from nothing without the luxury of having track facilities.

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“The program had been absent for about 10 years, and we felt we had an opportunity to give kids a chance to show off some talent in a sports arena that we weren’t even competing in,” Dolbare said. “We got back involved in track and field without much of anything. We didn’t have any equipment, didn’t have a track at the school, no uniforms, no anything. (We) Just started from scratch building the program from the ground up.”

The season saw a number of milestones for the Hornets, as the boys finished 11th overall in the state for Class 4A, while the girls finished 16th overall in the state for Class 4A.

The Hornets had 36 athletes this season — 27 boys and 9 girls — and the boys team had two members finish in the top three in the state, as Chris Hunter placed third in the boys 300-meter hurdles with a time of 40.72 seconds, while Kelsey Tripp placed third in the boys 200-meter dash with a time 22.75.

The lack of a track and the necessary equipment didn’t hinder the Hornets, Dolbare said, and while they occasionally made the 40-mile round trip to Memorial Stadium for practices, they relied heavily on what they had available at the school all year long.

“We made use of everything we had at the school. We trained a lot on the football field, we trained a lot around the school,” Dolbare said. “I’ve had to make items we can use in the place of hurdles, items that we can use, for example, making my own long jump boards and pits just so we could practice. We did travel down to the track (Memorial Stadium) sometimes once a week, but more than likely once every two weeks, just to get them a feel of being at a track facility, the surface and things of that nature.”

However, it was something the Hornets didn’t worry over, as Dolbare said the team’s mantra this season was to work as hard as possible to achieve its goals.

“Our main thing was we could only control how hard we worked. We couldn’t control what we were not blessed with, but we could definitely control how hard we worked,” Dolbare said, “and I feel like my kids wrapped their arms around that and really embodied that message the entire season.”

With the finishes at the state meet and also having hosted the first ever Dallas County Invitational at Memorial Stadium in April, Dolbare said the sky’s the limit for the Hornets, but the journey has only just begun.

“We had two kids place in the top three in the state, and for a second year program, I can’t tell you how proud and overjoyed I was with how some of these kids have overcome adversity to accomplish so much,” Dolbare said. “But the journey is just starting. We’re not anywhere near the end of where we want to be. This is only the beginning.”