With a practice meet under their belts, the Destin Middle School track and field teams are off and running.
Last Thursday, Destin competed in a practice meet at Emerald Coast Middle School against Emerald Coast and Walton middle schools.
"It was the first time for us, so we had to put some people in places where they weren't 100 percent prepared for, and they did pretty well," said Destin boys coach Ben Kackley.
"We had a high jumper for his first time get close to a state qualifying jump that had never done it before."
Seventh grader Anthony Bryan, who is new to Destin Middle, cleared 4-10.
"We're finding out that he has talent in a lot of areas," Kackley said.
But he's not the only one.
"That day gave us a lot of information as to how to tailor the team to have the most success going forward," he said.
The first official Okaloosa County track meet is scheduled for April 2.
"We're just looking forward to kind of finding peoples' groove and getting things in order and getting a little better," Kackley said.
However, he's already seeing a few strengths on the team.
"For once I think our field events are going to be pretty solid," he said.
Three-year discus guy, Drew Bachmann won at the practice meet. Kackley is also looking for Callahan Phillips and Bryan to do well in the field events as well.
"We also have a solid set of sprinters. We've got about five guys that are close in times with a couple being a little bit faster than the other three."
His top two are Phillips and Michael Dorminy. The other three rounding out the top five are Dylan Moore, Jack White and Bryan.
As for the distance runners, they are young with only one eighth grader.
"I think we've had so much success with that, that it has finally caught up with us and now we are rebuilding," Kackley said.
"Who knows how we will stack up in the county? But we're balanced, that's one thing about our team where the county seems to be very sprint heavy," Kackley said.
As for the Destin girls, Coach Demetris Stevens said, "Our team is going to do better than in years past."
Stevens has some young sprinters returning that have been working out since the end of last season in preparation for this year, "and it's showing results," he said.
"Our distance is a lot more solid than in years past," Stevens said, noting they have shaved a minute off last year's mile time.
Leading out on the track for the girls are Erin Eubanks, Georgia Bright and Chloe Hill.
Others "that have made our team a lot stronger" are Autumn Rivera, Angeles Marquez and Lauren Adams.
The weakness of the girls falls in the field events.
"We've got a good long jump core, but we've got to get stronger in our throwing events," Stevens said.
"If you can't score in throwing … that's how you get behind."
ON THE TEAM
Drew Bachmann, Presley Blackburn, Sam Boutz, Jamison Brundige, Anthony Bryan, Michael Dorminy, Thomas Driscoll, Sandro Falduto, Will Haught, Cameron Hunter, Joey Jones, Christian May, Dylan Moore, Evan Olsen, Callahan Phillips, Sam Romair, Harrison Smith, Jackson Stanford, Will Tasillo, Wesley Turpin, Jack White and Griffin Wilbur.
Lauren Adams, Georgia Bright, Callie Carlyle, Delaney Cookman, Erin Eubanks, Chaney Fisher, Chloe Hill, Riley Holahan, Hannah Hunter, Katie Joyce, Clara Beth LaFollette, Theresa LaNassa, Angeles Marquez, Rachel McMullen, Abigail Ortega, Rhys Quintin, Autumn Rivera, Jasmine Sistrunk, Abbie Stanford, Maile Sweeney, Lauren Turpin, and Jerre'ka White.