Calera on winning track

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Track practice at Calera High School starts at 3:19 p.m. every day.

Why 3:19 and not, say, 3:15 or 3:30? Because coach Michael Zelwak didn’t want his athletes falling into a routine of &uot;just showing up&uot;.

It’s an attitude Zelwak has applied since he took over as head coach of Calera’s track and field team.

Little was expected of Zelwak, or the Eagles, when he first volunteered to coach the team two years ago.

A track program had been virtually non-existent at Calera, and only a handful of athletes had competed during the several years prior to his’ taking over as coach.

&uot;I saw they didn’t have a track program and I knew how athletic a lot of these kids are,&uot; Zelwak said.

Twelve students joined the Calera team last year and when this season began, 35 showed up. Twenty-six of those went on to compete at the sectional track meet held last Tuesday.

Zelwak admits the past two seasons have been a learning experience for him as well as many of the athletes.

&uot;As a coach I learned that you have to put someone in every event even if they haven’t done it before,&uot; he said. &uot;And you never know who might surprise you.&uot;

It hasn’t been easy building Calera into a competitor, Zelwak said.

Calera, like many smaller schools, has had to practice without a jumping pit or track-and-field equipment like hurdles, javelins or pole vault gear.

After traveling for every meet two years ago, the Eagles were able to host three meets this season at Oliver Park.

&uot;I measured the track, painted the lines, painted the relay zones and we were able to have three meets here for five schools,&uot; Zelwak said. &uot;The city filled the sand pits for us.

&uot;You know people want to come back,&uot; he said. &uot;Plus we were able to have home meets which was great for our kids to get to run at home.&uot;

The Class 2A Eagles finished in fourth place at the Shelby County track and field championships on April 12, behind only 6A teams Pelham and Oak Mountain and 5A Briarwood Christian.

The Eagles took second place as a team at the 2A sectional meet, losing to Altamont by one and a half points.

Thirteen Calera athletes will compete for championships at the state meet this weekend at Troy State University.

Sprinting events

Wayne Burns will compete in the 100 meter dash and 200 meter dash. Wendell Demoss will compete in the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash and the long jump. Kevin Watkins will compete in the 100 meter dash and long jump. Glynn Dowdell will compete in the long jump and triple jump. Burns, Demoss, Watkins and Mike Ellison will compete in the 4×100 relay.

Distance events

Justin Bice will compete in the 400 meter dash while Gerald Dowdell will comptete in the 1600 meter run. Glynn Dowdell, Earl Haynes, Bice and Ellison will compete in the 4×400 relay while Bice, Haynes, Gerald Dowdell and Justin Harris will compete in the 4×800 relay.

Throwing events

Tim Baker, Nick Ray and Manny Godoy will all compete in the discus. Mike Watts will compete in the javelin while Baker will also compete in the javelin and shot put