Da'Juan Sylvester is not the gold star on Killeen High's boys track team. But without him and guys like him, the Kangaroos don't stand much of a chance at the District 25-4A track meet Wednesday and Thursday at Marble Falls' Mustang Stadium.
Sylvester, Killeen's No. 2 sprinter and sprint relay first leg, isn't as well known as teammates Jaquail Haskins and Michael Cummings and he doesn't have a Division I track scholarship like DreVan Anderson-Kaapa (Houston). But Killeen's leading trio can only garner so many points by themselves.
"We need those back-up guys, those guys getting third and fourth and fifth. Not only if you get third, you can make it to regionals and we're trying to get as many guys out to regionals but all those points count," said Killeen assistant track coach Richard Daniels. "Da'Juan's so important because he comes out of the blocks on our sprint relay," Daniels added. "If he comes out well, the rest of the race is taken care of."
The Lady Roos have their own aces and new faces.
Back is Tiara McIver, the Lady Roos' only state-qualifying individual (triple jump), two-time regional qualifier Traecia Nichols (shot put) and McIver's little sister Bria, who was a regional qualifier in the 100-meter hurdles last year as a freshman.
Speaking of freshmen and underclassmen, the Lady Roos have a lot of those, too.
"Our freshmen and sophomore groups are strong," said Lady Roos assistant track coach Linda Ortiz. "They're really helping fill in all the gaps of all the ones that left last year."
The most notable gaps are on Killeen's state-qualifying mile relay, which graduated three seniors and the only returner Brittany Ivory will likely not run the event this week.
"She will be running individual events, but not in the mile relay," said Lady Roos relays coach Nubia Medina. "This is sad because she was the only one that had been there and I was counting on her ... But I am very positive about (the mile relay) and the girls are also very positive. They have confidence that they can make it to regionals."
Sylvester is no stranger to regionals or even the state track meet. He and Haskins were both on last year's state qualifying sprint relay last year. Sylvester, though, is often an afterthought to Haskins, who finished eighth in the 100 meters at the state meet.
"I look at it as, when we're in practice, he pushes us. That's my teammate. We're trying to accomplish the same goal, we're trying to win state," Sylvester said of Haskins. "... When we come out here, coach Daniels only puts us through the right stuff. He knows if we do this and if we put all of our hearts into it, we can accomplish that (goal of winning state)."
Sylvester has his own individual goals but he's also well aware of his place on the team as well as the relays and, to him, it's all the same.
"We all play our roles. Everybody has their own role to play," Sylvester said. "We do what we've got to do, as far as the 4-by-1 (relay), single events, whatever ... We're in it together. We've all just got to do our role, though."
Area Athletes to Watch
Reagan Tindell, Belton 800, 1,600
Darrius White, Belton 100
Tiaira West, Copperas Cove 200, 400, 800 relay
Traonna Shedrick, Copperas Cove long jump
Alex Chace, Copperas Cove 100
Derwin Graham, Copperas Cove 1,600, 3,200
Roberto Comancho, Copperas Cove 300 hurdles, 400 relay
Orlando Thomas, Copperas Cove 110 hurdles, 800 relay
William Randolph, Copperas Cove 200, 400 &amp; 800 relays.
Bobbie Williamson, Ellison discus, shot put
Tiara Alexander, Ellison long jump, 100, 200
Prezel Hardy, Ellison 100
Michael Bryan, Ellison 100
Larry Brooks, Ellison 200, 400 &amp; 800 relays
Melissa Mays, Harker Heights long jump, triple jump, 400, 1,600 relay
Aliese Hyde, Harker Heights 400, 800, 1,600 relay
Latisha Paige, Harker Heights 100 hurdles, 400 relay
Valencia Lock, Harker Heights 100, 400 relay
Miracle Taylor, Harker Heights pole vault
Reagan Gilbert, Harker Heights pole vault
Kyle Thompson, Harker Heights 800, 1,600 relay
Jalen Shabazz, Harker Heights 400, 1,600 relay
Bria McIver, Killeen High hurdles
Tiara McIver, Killeen High triple jump
Traecia Nichols, Killeen High discus
Michael Cummings, Killeen High discus, shot put
DreVan Anderson-Kaapa, Killeen High 1,600, 3,200
Jaquail Haskins, Killeen High 100-meters
Andrea White, Lampasas discus
Brode Dubose, Lampasas discus
Cooper Liverman, Lampasas hurdles
Aaron Reyna, Lampasas long jump
Jahyda Reed, Shoemaker high jump, hurdles
Lakeisha Jelks, Shoemaker 400
Cion Hicks, Shoemaker shot put, discus
Shavaughn Brathwaite, Shoemaker 800
Shaniece Brathwaite, Shoemaker 800
Donavan Johnson, Shoemaker hurdles