Track program outstanding

Published 5:55 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Through the years, the Bainbridge High School track program has been one of the most consistently strong sports programs at Bainbridge High School.

The program’s strong foundation was laid by Dr. Larry Clark, whom former Decatur County School Superintendent Ralph Jones asked to take over the track program in 1981, when Jones took over as head coach of the football team.

Jones went on to lead the Bearcats to the State Class AAA football championship in 1982 and his alma mater, the Cairo High School Syrupmakers, to the State Class AAA football championship in 1990.

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Larry Clark and Ralph Jones have influenced untold numbers of young people in a positive way during their outstanding academic and athletic careers.

Larry, a starting defensive back on coach J.B. Roland’s 1970 Bearcats, the first Bainbridge High School football team I covered, later led the Bearcats to numerous region track championsips and strong finishes at the state meet.

Ralph, a former Syrupmakers quarterback and Bainbridge High School principal, and Larry have both rightly been inducted into their counties’ sports Halls of Fames.

Ralph is a member of the Grady County Sports Hall of Fame and Larry was one of the  Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame’s  first class, which was inducted in February.

Joining Larry as members of the Decatur County Sports Hall of Fame’s first class were former Bearcats head football coach Spencer “Onion” Davis, former Bearcats All-State and Auburn University Tigers All-American lineman Ken Rice and former Bearcat and Major League Baseball infielder Ernest Riles.

With Larry continuing to be involved in the track program, the Bearcats won the 2010 State Class AAAA track championship under coach Larry Cosby, one of Larry’s former outstanding sprinters and his successor as the Bearcats’ head track coach.

Coach Jones, who retired as superintendent in 2010, and Coach Clark, who is now principal of Jones-Wheat Elementary School, are both outstanding educators and coaches and I feel honored to have had the privilege to cover their outstanding education and sports careers.

Elsewhere in today’s sports section is a story on the BHS boys track team finishing eighth in a strong 58-team field at the State Class AAAA Meet last week in Jefferson, Ga.

With Coach Cosby coaching the boys track team, former outstanding Lady Cats basketball and track performer Tandria Phillips coaching the girls track  team and Larry Clark still heavily involved with both teams, there will be many more outstanding track achievements to come.

In conclusion, I would like to wish good luck to Coach Phillips’ Lady Cats as they as they compete in the State Class AAAA Girls Meet this Thursday through Saturday at the Hugh Mills Memorial Stadium Track in Albany.