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Lizi Arbogast / The Outlook Dadeville's Jamarion Wilkerson, right, readies for the game with teammate Josh Taylor.

This time a year ago, Dadeville’s boys track and field team was still basking in the glory of its third-place finish at the AHSAA Class 2A Track and Field Championships.

But this time a few months ago, that shine had worn off and the Tigers were hungrier than ever to return. They didn’t want a third place this season though; they were gunning for a state title. And with the athletes they had at their disposal, the likelihood was nearly sure they would at least be in the hunt.

“This group accomplished so much last year as juniors and we were really anticipating more state championships as far as individuals and relay teams from the state meet,” Dadeville track and field coach Chris Hand said. “We also were really going to compete for a state championship as a team and the majority of our points were going to come from those seniors.”

But those hopes were dashed when the coronavirus pandemic hit and cut the season short. Regardless, this group of seniors takes with them a ton of memories, especially in the sports world. Several were multi-sport athletes and they used what they learned in other sports to help them succeed at track and field.

Josh Taylor competed in the 300 hurdles and the 100 and 200. After suffering a torn ACL that stopped him from playing football at all and nearly took him off the basketball court for the season as well, Taylor came back with a vengeance for the track season.

“He was looking at probably first or second place in at least one event,” Hand said. “He was ready to go. He ran indoor and played some basketball but he was really geared up for the outdoor track season. He worked very hard and he has a lot of discipline from a mental standpoint but also a physical one. He goes above and beyond.”

Taylor is committed to play football at Faulkner University.

Another football and basketball player who was hunting an individual state championship was Jamauri Chislom, who was a stud in the shot put and the discus.

“We were also going to try him out in the javelin,” Hand said. “He was really looking to compete for a state championship in the shot put. He just had a lot of dedication and desire and will. He trained a lot on his own; you just have to if you’re going to do multiple sports.”

Jamarion Wilkerson also joined Taylor and Chislom as a three-sport athlete and he competed in the 400, triple jump and the 4x4.

“Jamarion’s just an excellent athlete,” Hand said. “He’s one that gets stronger as the year goes on. He did not have his best time in that first (and only) meet we competed in but he would’ve practiced and pushed himself. He even said that after the first meet that he was going to get to where he could get back to competing for a state championship.”

After so much success with that group on the basketball court, Jay Patrick also joined the track and field team this year. He threw the javelin and did long jump; he was also in training to do the triple and high jumps.

Another top thrower for the Tigers was Andrevious Giles, who competed in the shot and discus. He showed a ton of improvement from his sophomore to junior year, and Hand expected Giles to get even stronger this year.

Dyjuan Evans rounded out the boys team as he was in the 400, 200, 4x4 and long jump.

“He had a lot of consistency,” Hand said. “He was one that did indoor also and he really just focused on track. He actually ran some cross country races just because he wanted to get better for track.”

On the girls side, the Tigers boasted three seniors. Skye Foster was the leader of the pack after being the only girl on the team at one point in her high school career. She did both hurdle races as well as the 300 hurdles, but it was the long and triple jumps that were really her forte.

“She was looking at competing and winning the state in possibly both,” Hand said. “She had tremendous growth and achievement, and I don’t say that lightly. She was really dedicated; she came to work on Sunday with coach (Michael) Taylor or even Saturday if needed. She really wanted to win that state championship.”

Janasia Cross and Anhiyzjah Thomas rounded out the senior class for Dadeville. Cross was on the 4x4 when the girls had a team; she also ran the 200 and 100 and did the long jump. Despite working an after-school job, Hand said Cross did a great job of balancing that with competing on the track team. Thomas was a thrower, competing in both the shot and the discus, and Hand said Thomas’ best quality was how she mentored the younger girls and was like an extra coach for the throws.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.