MONTICELLO — Nothing has changed in Joshua Liddell’s track and field regimen just because he’ll be donning Arkansas football pads come August.
All the Dollarway senior is concerned about this spring is finally winning a state championship — or two. But he’s aware of the benefits track and field gives him for the college football season.
“It helps me stay in shape for when I get there,” Liddell said. “It gets me faster, stronger and builds my endurance.”
This spring, the Cardinals’ quarterback and safety — who was recruited to play the latter at Arkansas — is a top contender in the triple jump, where he finished second in Class 4A last year. He also takes to the track as a sprinter, hoping to better his second-place finish in the 4A 400.
“Josh is Josh,” Dollarway coach Darrin Kidd said. “First track meet (of this season), he qualified for the (state) triple jump and long jump.”
Liddell and the Cardinals competed with other area teams of all classes Thursday in the SEARK Relays at Monticello High. Unofficially, he and teammate Henri Murphy finished second and first, respectively, in the 100 meters in the meet.
Murphy was state runner-up in that event last year.
Final results from Thursday’s meet were not available at press time, but it was clear Dollarway is getting primed for a run at its first team state championship since 1990.
“This year, we’re older, we’re stronger, we’re more experienced,” Liddell said. “We have a good shot to win. We just have to keep working hard.”
Liddell, whom Kidd called the “catalyst” of the Cardinals, and classmate Kabion Ento could lead the way. According to Kidd, Ento jumped a state-qualifying 6-feet-7 in the high jump, 5 inches higher than his runner-up finish in 4A.
“We got eight people qualified in eight events, and we’re just trying to plug in the rest of them because we think we have a shot at it as a team,” Kidd said.
Dollarway didn’t win any events at state last year, but had five second-place finishes.
Monticello’s Sarah Claycomb, however, has two championships under her belt, and the junior has appeared to return to championship form with her state-qualifying run Thursday in the 1,600 meters (5 minutes, 31 seconds). The reigning 1,600- and 3,200-meter champion had to overcome a minor ankle injury earlier in the season.
“She swam, and that maintained her endurance,” Monticello distance coach Danny Chisom said. “She’s got about her time where she needs to be.”
Claycomb had already qualified in the 3,200 and was to attempt to do the same in the 800 Thursday evening. She has four running championships all together, counting the past two 4A cross country crowns.