Hood expects both Lions, Lady Lions to compete for division championships

The month of March in Brownwood means it’s time for the annual Bluebonnet Relays track and field meet The relays are always exciting, bringing in many of the Lone Star State’s top track athletes to square off against each other. This year, however, Brownwood fans should be even more excited than usual, as there’s buzz that both the Lions and Lady Lions could walk away as team champions.

The history-rich meet, which takes place at Gordon Wood Stadium, begins Friday and will conclude on Saturday. Numerous schools from all over Texas will be attending to compete against each other in hopes of winning the gold.

“We will have somewhere between 10 to 15 schools that will be coming in,” said Brownwood head track coach Don Hood. “Sometimes we get a surprise or two and have some schools that show up that we didn’t know were coming, so we may have a little more than that, you never know. Usually though, you can expect somewhere between 10 to 15 total and that’s what I expect for this one.”

One unique thing about the Bluebonnet Relays is the fact that schools both large and small will line up to face each other in the various events. Whether it be Class A or Class 6A, students have the opportunity to compete against others who may attend a school that is on the completely opposite end of the spectrum of their own.

“This year there will be a wide variety present,” Hood explained. “On the bigger end you’ll see schools like Copperas Cove, Lubbock Coronado, Lubbock Cooper, Abilene High and Abilene Cooper competing. Some of the mid-sized schools will include Abilene Wylie, Stephenville, Graham and Mineral Wells. Then we’ll have smaller schools like Wall, Jim Ned and Bangs, too. Of course we also have teams like Guthrie and Panther Creek showing up, which are your six-man types. So you have quite a range of schools that are represented here.”

No matter who Brownwood lines up against this weekend, the Lions and Lady Lions feel pretty good about their chances in nearly every event. According to those around the track program, this might be the best that both the girls and boys teams have been in quite some time and there’s some early chatter that both should be competing at a very high level in 2017.

“I think we have a chance to win both team championships,” Hood said. “We’re pretty good on both sides. The boys and girls teams are each pretty strong top to bottom. I look at both of these teams and I can’t really find a glaring weakness on either one. The stronger of the two might actually be the girls, although not by much. Each group is performing exceptionally well at the moment and the expectation is for that to continue.”

“They’re doing great this year and we expect a lot from them,” Hood said. “We are a little thin with shot put, but those girls are learning and coming along quickly. Honestly there’s no big drop off anywhere in my opinion. We have good sprinters and hurdlers, we have a good set of throwers, some good high jumpers and pole vaulters, too. We’re pretty well rounded. We have some great athletes that have come together from not just track, but softball, basketball and more. They’re all very talented.

“Overall the boys’ team seems to be very strong this year as well. We have an outstanding jumps crew in my opinion. Our high jump, long jump and triple jump are as good as anyone in the state. We have some boys that are doing outstanding in all three of those, so I feel really good about that. Our sprint crew is really coming together and I see us being as good, if not better, than we were last year. There are many quality kids there, along with our hurdlers, too. I think we’re going to be pretty good. The mystery for me right now is our distance crew, but I see a lot of potential there.”

Obviously you have to give the student-athletes themselves credit for performing at such a high level, but Hood says it’s also a testament to the members of Brownwood’s coaching staff that is involved with the track program.

“The kids are doing great and deserve all the credit in the world, but at the same time it’s our coaches, too,” he said. “We have a great group of coaches that are working just as hard as the kids. They’re doing an outstanding job when it comes to coaching up the kids. They buy in and it makes the kids buy in. That makes a big difference. When the coaches are zoned in and really involved, the kids will be too. They’re very enthusiastic and involved. They will keep doing what they’re doing and I know the kids will follow their lead.”

Each day’s events will begin at noon. Prelims for running and field events will take place on Friday, with the finals starting on Saturday. Concessions and Bluebonnet Relays apparel will be available at the event.