PERRYVILLE -- The Sikeston track and field team will try to make its way back to the top of the mountain in tomorrow's Class 3, District 1 meet at Perryville.
The Bulldogs boys team had its string of four straight team district championships snapped last year by Potosi.
Sikeston will be in the running once again this year with top contenders Potosi and Perryville to round out the strong 15-team field in the 11 a.m. meet at Perryville High School.
But while head coach Jerry Dement stresses the team aspect first in track meets, he said he is taking a little different approach this year.
"We're not as concerned with the team standings this year, but more importantly we're going to try to qualify as many kids as we can to the sectional meet," said Dement. "We'd love to win it, but realistically we have more quality than quantity this year.
"I'd have to say we're an underdog this year. It looks like Potosi is the favorite with us and Perryville battling it out for second. We've beaten all the district teams except for Potosi. It seems like they have a few more events covered than we do."
Dement feels his team can produce points in 14 of the 18 total events and of those, several have a legitimate shot of advancing to the sectional meet in Festus next Saturday.
But with no top competitors in the distance events, his team's chances of winning the team title dwindle.
To win, he will need multiple athletes to place in events, which is certainly not an easy task against a district field that is consistently one of the best in the state.
"We'd like to place two in as many events as we can," said Dement. "We're young and don't have a whole lot of depth, but we've exceeded my expectations this year. We seem to always step up around this time and post our best times and I think we'll do that again this year. We've got some good young ones coming. Hopefully when we get our good facility where we can get some good training every day we can take it to the next level."
Of Sikeston's top district competitors, only two are seniors.
One of those, Trey Stone, is expected to do well in the pole vault as he has gone 13 feet this season. The other senior, Stephon Turner, is a favorite in the 110 meter high hurdles with a time of 15.1. He could also place in the 300 intermediate hurdles.
"He's as good as anybody in the area this year," said Dement of Turner. "He's improved a lot in the 300 hurdles."
Junior Salamar Cox has consistently placed in the top three in most meets this year in the shot put with a season-best toss of 49 feet.
Freshman Dominic Fondon and Mark Williamson also could place high in the long jump.
Dement called Fondon "a pleasant surprise."
Andre Goodwin is the Bulldogs' top contender in the high jump and Sergio Ramos and A.J. Vanover could point in the discus.
David Stovall is strong in the 400 meter dash with a time of 51.4
Sophomores Brandon Washington and Brandon Wright will compete in the 200 meter dash while classmate Tommie Strong will run in the 100 meter dash.
Sikeston's best chance of a district champion could be in the 4 x 100 (44.0) and 4 x 200 (1:31.00) meter relays.
Both teams, comprised of Washington, Wright, Stovall and Strong, have placed in the top two at every meet this year.
"Even though they're young, they compete hard," said Dement.
Dement could also get a boost from sophomore speedster Bryan Branion, who has been injured all season, but may be ready to go tomorrow.
"He seems to be coming around -- he's starting to get healthy," said Dement. Senior B.J. Green provides solid depth in the speed relays as an alternate runner.
On the girls side, Sikeston isn't considered a contender for the team district title.
But Dement has plenty of talent that could make a run at individual district championships.
Sophomore Chasman Herrion, a state qualifier last year, is one of the top sprinters in the area in the 100 meter dash.
Herrion also runs legs on the 4 x 100 and 4 x 200 meter relays, both of which are contenders along with teammates Lashawna Turner, Jackie Nance and Jewellian Dixon and Michel 'Le Flye rotating
"We're hoping those girls can be competitive," said Dement. They're running as fast as they have all year."
Dement is also putting together a 4 x 400 meter relay team, with Traci Jackson, Turner, Herrion and Tiah Atkinson.
Jackson will also compete in the 400 meter dash.
Atkinson will compete in the triple jump with a 32 foot leap this year.
"Our girls are going more for their best events," said Dement. "We're not going to contend for the team title so we'll do what we can to get as many as we can through to the state meet. We're very, very young on the girls side. We think if the girls stick together and work hard, we can have a good team in the coming years."