“We at least want to be the top Houston-area team,” said Kinkaid head coach John Beckwith. “Realistically, we’d be happy with top five.”
After placing third in the Southwest Preparatory Conference last season, the expectations are about the same. Still, Beckwith thinks Kinkaid will have a hard time keeping pace with defending champion and host Dallas St. Mark’s, Dallas Greenhill and Tulsa Holland Hall at the SPC meet on April 30-May 1 in Dallas.
“The Dallas and Oklahoma teams should be strong, especially St. Mark’s,” Beckwith said. “It seems like St. Mark’s wins it every year.”
But Kinkaid has a few athletes, not to mention two relays, which should be in medal contention.
Senior captain Edmond O’Suji is one of the SPC’s premier sprinters. O’Suji finished fifth in the SPC in the 200-meter dash and sixth in the 100-meter dash a year ago and figures to move up a few spots. He also was part of Kinkaid’s third-place 4x100 relay.
“Edmond is, by far, the fastest guy on the team,” Beckwith said. “I believe he’ll be in the top three in both races.”
O’Suji performed well at the recent Kinkaid Relays, winning the 100 in 11.54 seconds, just off last year’s best time.
Beckwith said O’Suji will run the 100, 200 and both the 4x100 and 4x400 relays in Dallas.
Junior captain Travis Gill is the Falcons’ all-purpose athlete. At last year’s conference meet, Gill placed fifth in the 400 and sixth in the high jump. He also ran legs on the victorious 4x800 relay and the second-place 4x400 relay.
“Travis the kind of kid that you tell him to do something and he does it without complaint,” Beckwith said. “Travis practices hard and deserves all the success that’s come his way.”
At the Kinkaid Relays, Gill came in first in the 400 in 51.04 seconds.
Beckwith said he has adjusted Gill’s workload. He most likely will enter the 400, 800 and 4x400 relay.
Sophomore Harlin Lawal exploded on the scene last season. Lawal excels in the 110 and 300 hurdles, winning the former in 15.64 seconds at Kinkaid. Lawal also will run the 4x100 relay.
“Harlin is the only individual we took to Texas Relays,” Beckwith said. “He has great form in the hurdles. We’re trying to improve his foot speed.”
Freshman Simon Radko is a rising star in the 400 and has earned a place on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Meanwhile, junior Demetrios Cokinos has emerged in the 800 and is projected to run on the 4x400 and 4x800 relays.
“Simon came in with a lot of hype and he’s lived up to it,” Beckwith said. “Demetrios has made big strides, too.”
Other notable tracksters are senior captain George Collins (100 and 200), junior Shulter Ukpe (100, 200, 4x100 relay) and sophomore William Reade, an alternate on the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.
Junior captain Daniel Lim (1,600, 3,200) leads Kinkaid’s distance corps.
Beckwith said the 4x100 and 4x400 relays should be in the medal hunt. Both relays ranked among the top three at the Kinkaid Relays. Meanwhile, the 4x800 relay will be hard-pressed to defend its SPC title after graduating three of four legs.
“We may run some freshmen in the 4x800 relay to get them some experience and use our veterans in open events,” Beckwith said.
The Falcons could pick up points in the field events.
Junior captain Yoshio Wilson is much-improved in the discus and shot put. Wilson won the discus at the Kinkaid Relays with a throw of 122 feet.
“Yoshio has become much more consistent,” Beckwith said. “He’s also been very helpful with our younger throwers. He’s definitely a team-oriented guy.”
Collins, who played on Kinkaid’s SPC runner-up boys basketball team, could surprise in the high jump and triple jump.
“George has been plagued by knee problems, but we expect to have him ready by SPCs,” Beckwith said.
While it might not be Kinkaid’s most talented team, Beckwith has a feeling that Falcons might surprise everyone.
“That’s what I’m counting on,” Beckwith said.