Oftentimes, the competition Sam Bowie faces in a meet isn’t nearly as good as what he sees in practice every day.
Bowie is part of an outstanding contingent of distance runners on the LaGrange High track team.
Senior Andrew Coggins, who had finishes of first place and second place at last year’s state meet, leads the way.
Bowie, a sophomore, had a fifth-place finish at last year’s state meet, and junior Jonathan Pelham is an accomplished distance runner who like his teammates excels in cross country and track.
Bowie said having Coggins and Pelham to train with is a huge help, and they have a distance coach in Brad Wilson who has put together a workout program that is obviously working.
“Coach Wilson helps push us every day in training, especially on track workout days,” Bowie said. “And Andrew and Pelham just help every single day. It’s somebody to talk to after school if you have a rough day, and they’re good training buddies that make you want to get out there and run.”
Bowie, Coggins and Pelham will be three of the LaGrange runners competing in the Class AAAA state sectional on Saturday in Carrollton.
Joining them at the sectional will be Mike Sneed, who has qualified in the 300-meter hurdles.
The top eight finishers in each event at the sectional will qualify for the state finals in Jefferson.
Coggins, Bowie and Pelham helped the Grangers finish second in the state cross-country meet in the fall, and they’ve been the foundation of the track team this spring.
Wilson said the three runners complement each other extremely well.
“They’ve got great personalities, they joke around, but when it’s time to get to work, there’s one thing they have in common is when you see them coming around, they all have the same look in their eyes,” Wilson said. “That look in their eyes tells you all you need to know about them. They’re going to get done what they need to get done. They’ll joke around before and after, but during they’re all business.”
Coggins is putting the wraps on an exceptional high-school career.
The highlight for Coggins came at last year’s state meet when he won the 800-meter run, and finished second in the 1,600-meter run.
“He was made for (distance running). There’s no doubt,” Wilson said. “And to his credit, he recognized that and dedicated himself to it. He’s gotten everything out of his potential he can get.”
Bowie, meanwhile, raced his way to a fifth-place finish at the 3,200-meter run at last year’s state meet, and he finished 10th in the 1,600.
At the state sectional, Bowie will run in the 1,600 and the 3,200, and Coggins will compete in the 800 and the 1,600.
Coggins won both of those events at the Region 5-AAAA meet
Pelham’s event in the sectional will be the 3,200.
Sneed earned his invitation to state by finishing fourth in the 300 hurdles at the region meet.
Sneed is in his second season as hurdler, and he has made big strides this year.
“I’ve improved a lot, maybe two or three seconds,” Sneed said.