Tiger track ignores talk of a dying sport

BILL MARTIN

While the demise of the sport of track is reported year-afteryear, and high school associations across the nation are taking measures to cut back the track, the Rockdale Tigers don’t seem to be detoured by such gossip.

As we sit here in the heart of track season, the Rockdale boys track program recently captured the district championship in eight grade, junior varsity and of course varsity— for the second year in a row.

The junior varsity outdistanced their nearest competitors by 103 points, which bodes well for the future of Tiger track.

And with a program that has a state championship pedigree, that’s good news.

Consider the bevy of talented athletes and Division I caliber players in District 23-3A at Giddings, LaGrange and Navasota and their accomplishments become that more impressive.

And this comes from a squad that doesn’t even field a sprint relay team.


Long distance specialty men Juan Rubio (left) and Josh Gerren are the heart and soul of the Tiger track team. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Long distance specialty men Juan Rubio (left) and Josh Gerren are the heart and soul of the Tiger track team. Reporter/Bill Martin First-year Rockdale track coach Jim Kerbow has a simple answer.

“We competed,” Kerbow said. “They worked their tails off. That’s the hardest I’ve seen us compete this season. It’s a testament to our kids and how hard they worked and the time they put in.”

Also, it doesn’t hurt to have their own D1 talent Daniel Brooks and Le’Raven Clark in blue and gold track suits either.

Then there’s the blue collar guys, like long distance runners Jacob Gerren and Juan Rubio who do nothing but run track and most of the time, run against each other.

The end is near?

A recent article by Jordan Godwin of the Galveston News caught my attention as he wrote about “Lanes were spacious, bleachers were empty, and participation was thin at Wednesday’s District 24-4A track and field meet.”

Once a booming hotbed for track and field, this is what many programs in Galveston County have been reduced to.

“It’s no secret that track is a dying sport,” Ball High coach Sherman Elias told the News. “It’s actually really sad to see.”

Rockdale native Lee Nichols— who still holds the school record in the 1,600 and 3,200—is considered one of the top track authorities and journalists in the nation.

He has a global view of the sport he loves.

“Well, it’s definitely struggling, although I can’t imagine it will ever die because it’s such a basic, elemental sport,” he said. “Anyone who attends the Texas Relays, the Penn Relays, the Olympic Trials, or a major European meet wouldn’t think there’s anything wrong with track at all. The challenge is how to capture some of that magic and translate it to lowerlevel meets.”

He knows that track will never compete with the “ball” sports, but admits it wouldn’t hurt track to take a few pointers from the ballers, like who’s ahead and in what.

“Too often, field events have no signboards or announcers telling people where the competition stands,” he said.

Nichols points out that track gets a huge boost every four years because of the Olympics, but even that seem to wane. Imagine watching the Super Bowl only every fourth year.

“Track isn’t dying,” Nichols says, “but it’s chronically ill and needs to figure out how to get stronger.”

Amen, brother.


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2011-05-05 digital edition



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