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‘Kansas’ finds home on high school track team
by Kyle Sears
Jun 21, 2009 | 2311 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jones County High sophomore Devlin Patrick may not be so sure about Georgia just yet, but track coach Greg Nisbet and Patrick’s teammates are sure that they like Kansas.

Given the nickname ‘Kansas’ after moving from that state just two days before the school year started, Patrick admittedly had a hard time adjusting.

“When I first got here, I wasn’t really thinking about anything except for getting out of here,” he said.

Eventually, Patrick decided to look into his new school’s track team

Since seventh grade, he had participated in the 100-meter dash, 400-meter dash, and long jump back home, and Nisbet entered him in a variety of events, including the 400, 4x100-meter relay, 4x400 relay, long jump, and triple jump, this past season.

“When I was little I never played any sports except soccer, but I always got kicked out the games for being too physical. I always thought God gave us hands for a reason,” Patrick said. “It wasn’t until seventh grade that I started playing any sports, and I wasn’t anything special.”

Patrick soon found that though he did not view himself as anything special on his track team in Kansas, he was among the top athletes at Jones County High, not only this past year, but of all time.

After trying the triple jump for the first time, this year, he broke the school record with an attempt of 42-feet, 5-inches at the Region 1-AAAA Meet in late April.

Nisbet praised him for his unmatched work ethic, noting that he saw Patrick out on the track practicing by himself on more than one occasion during spring break.

The coach said he believes Patrick will be a NCAA Division-I track athlete before all is said and done.

Though the upcoming junior did not qualify for the AAAA State Meet to finish his sophomore season, he came within two spots of doing so in three different events.

He was a leg of the third-place 4x400-meter relay team, while also finishing fourth in the 400 meters and fourth in the triple jump. He was also a leg of the sixth-place 4x100 meter relay team and finished 14th in the long jump.

Patrick said he became accustomed to winning meets during the regular season and continued to improve on his times and jumps on into the region meet.

He just saw a different level of competition against schools like Bainbridge, Thomas County Central, and Westside.

“I thought I ran pretty good and jumped well,” he said. “There were just some really good athletes out there. I wasn’t too mad, but it kind of hurt.”

He is nearly adjusted to a different track landscape in Georgia that features stronger athletes in the sprinting and jumping events, as opposed to the one in Kansas that features stronger athletes in the distance events.

Patrick said his goals for the next two years revolve around taking that next step to state, as well as getting his name in the school’s record books as many times as possible.

Nisbet said Patrick is a different kind of track athlete than he has been used to coaching in more than 20 years at the high-school level.

Where a lot of athletes view track as a second sport behind football or basketball or wrestling, Patrick views track as his number-one sport.

Though he played football and basketball in Kansas, the true limelight for the sophomore can only be found between the lines on that rubberized surface or on the runway leading up to the sand pit.

“It’s something I love to do,” he said. “I just tried long jump one day and fell in love with it. I could sit out there all day.”

In addition to track, Patrick plans on picking up cross-country next fall.

He indicated that in the face of his reservations about his new home, becoming a member of the track team at least partially helped fill the void that stretched back halfway across the country.

“It’s helped me find a place here, and I’ve met a lot of people through it,” Patrick said.
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