CONYERS - Heritage's track and field teams are hoping the 2008 season yields a long list of accomplishments.
Last year was a banner year for the Patriots as the Heritage boys captured the Region 8-AAAA championship, crowned five region champions and sent six boys to state.
Meanwhile, the Lady Patriots finished second in the region, had four region champions and sent four girls to state.
Top returnees on the boys side include seniors Shuaib Winters, Brian Allen and Mikel Hunter, and juniors Reggie Juin and Morgan Tabb. Winters was the 8-AAAA 3,200-meter champion and finished ninth at state last year.
The Lady Patriots return senior Miauna Jones and Sarah Hayward.
Heritage track coach Scott Wade said there are a lot of things to look forward to this season.
"On the boys side, we return a number of solid runners on the track. We should be very competitive in every event from the 100 meter to the two mile," Wade said. "Specifically, Shuaib Winters, Reggie Juin and Brian Allen have all previously qualified for state and we look for them to repeat those feats.
"On the girls side, we will look to Miauna Jones as a source of strength and leadership for this year's team. Miauna is the top returning hurdler in the region and was a state qualifier last year."
Despite Heritage's strengths, Wade knows the team still has several areas that need improvement.
"In 2007, we struggled in the field events on the boys side. Mikel Hunter returns as our top high jumper and Morgan Tabb is a returning points scorer in the pole vault," Wade said. "Beyond that, we are dedicating a lot of energy in developing a number of young athletes in the field events.
"The girls do not have a lot of experience. We are going to have to take a long-term approach to the season and make improvements each week. If we can make steady improvement throughout the season, we can once again challenge the upper ranks of our region."
Wade said he wants to set realistic goals this season, but that will be hard when he wants to win every meet.
"Of course we would like to win every race every time we step on the track. We would like to smash school records every time we compete. We want to win every meet we enter," he said. "But as always, we will measure our success based on our performances at region and state. In the end, we will measure successes as a team and as individuals on growth. Are we better at the end of the season than we when we began? Is this year's team better than last year's team?"
Consistent effort day-in and day-out is the key to a successful season, according to first-year Heritage track coach Hal Fairbanks.
"We must stay consistent in our efforts to get better," he said. "Our goals are to have our peak performances at the end of the season."
Brandon Evans can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: At a glance
· Teams: Heritage track
· Coaches: Scott Wade, Hal Fairbanks
· Last year: Heritage boys won Region 8-AAAA championship; Heritage girls finished second
· Next meet: Saturday at Milton