CAPE GIRARDEAU - There will be a change in venue but the ultimate goal remains the same for the Sikeston track and field team -- win another district championship.
The Bulldogs boys team has claimed three straight Class 3, District 1 titles at Perryville High School.
This year the Bulldogs will try to make it four in a row, this time to be held in Cape Girardeau at Southeast Missouri State's Abe Stuber Track and Field Complex tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.
Sikeston, Perryville and North County enter the meet as the favorites. Dement is optimistic of his team's chances.
"If we continue to run like we have the last three weeks and the kids continue to step up to the challenge like they have then we'll have a good chance to win it," said Dement. "We run our kids against top notch competition from three or four different states and I think it really prepares us for when we come back and run in these high pressure situations like Saturday."
Sikeston's track season hasn't been as smooth as in the past few years, but that all changed when the Bulldogs won the SEMO Conference championship last week for the first time since 1991, edging out longtime nemesis Poplar Bluff.
Dement is hoping its a preview of what his team can do on Saturday.
"A lot of times it's harder to stay there than to get there because everybody's gunning for you and looking to knock you off," said Dement. "We just want our kids to run their best on this day. You try to build your mental and physical approach of the season and gear up it for the last three or four weeks of the season. I'm hoping we've done a good job of that."
Sikeston's three speed relays, the 4 x 100, 4 x 200 and 4 x 400, are all favored to advance to the sectional meet.
Sikeston's top point man for the season has been junior Felante Larry, who is seeded first in the long jump and 100 meter dash and first in the 4 x 200 meter relay. He's seeded second in the triple jump, which he just started competing in a few weeks ago.
Junior Tyler Woodson is seeded second in both the 110 and 300 meter hurdles.
Sophomore Clay Lincoln is among the top seeds in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs.
Others that are seeded high are Thomas Elery (200 meters), Andy Croxford (shot put), Joe Johnson (shot put and discus), Kirk Butler (pole vault), Apollo Patterson (long jump) and Quinton Lamb (200 and 400 meter dashes).
One reason the Bulldogs have been successful in district meets the past several years has been their point production in many different events.
"We're not wrapped up so much in what the performance is as much as how it compares to everybody else," said Dement.
"We're going for points. We've got our best kids all maxed out in the most events they can do and lot of times that's not conducive to having your best time or distance because you're worn down from doing all those events."
The Bulldogs' current streak is the most impressive the school has seen since claiming six district championships in seven years from 1987-1992.
Dement is hoping a fourth straight championship will just add to the Bulldogs' illustrious track program.
"That would be a nice feat for our kids," said Dement.
"They're excited about it and they're talking about it. At the beginning of the season I was worried about some of our depth and some of our people coming around. But we've had a lot of people start to improve a little bit."
On the girls side, the Lady Bulldogs aren't among the favorites to win the district championship, but Dement is expecting a solid performance nonetheless.
"They're probably not a team threat but we think we can score in several events," said Dement. "Our girls have run a very competitive schedule. Now we're coming back and running against some teams that are more our size. Normally we finish in the top four or five out of 15 teams. That's what our goal is this year. Anything above that would be icing on the cake. We've got some events we think we can score some points in. This group of girls has been pretty hard working all year and they've been pretty dedicated. They're young too. We have some seniors that point for us, but we count on some young girls too."
Rachael Vining, who has been nursing an injury the last few meets, is expected to compete tomorrow. She's seeded high in the long and triple jumps.
Paige Kaiser, a two-time state qualifier in the pole vault, is among the favorites there. Dement also expects solid performances out of Latavia Flye in the 100 meters and Traci Jackson the 800 meters.
The 4 x 200 and 4 x 400 relays teams are also among the high seeded teams.