Piedmont’s Mitchell wins national track award
by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star
Feb 19, 2014 | 1218 views |  0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Coaches Association arm of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), the national governing body for high school sports, has named Piedmont High School track coach Mark Mitchell its 2013 Alabama boys track and field coach of the year. Piedmont’s boys’ track team won the 2013 Class 3A state championship in Mitchell’s first year at Piedmont.

Mitchell said Monday evening that Piedmont athletic director and head football coach Steve Smith paid him a visit in his classroom in late January to tell him he had a letter in the main office that he might want to read.

The letter notifying Mitchell of his selection was co-signed by NFHS executive director Robert Gardner and NFHS Coaches Association advisory committee chairman Jeff Arbogast. The two expressed their appreciation for the contributions Mitchell made on behalf of high school athletics. The Alabama High School Athletic Association will formally present Mitchell’s award to him at the annual coaches banquet.

“I don’t know that it ever gets old winning stuff but it makes you feel good about your program,” Mitchell said Monday, a day after returning from a three-day trip to a pole-vaulting camp in Jonesboro, Arkansas with eight prospective vaulters. “That’s what it reflects on, our program, really not on me but the kids from last year and what they did. That’s always good.”

Mitchell won the state award for 2012 for his work at Cedar Bluff. He said others had won multiple state awards but he couldn’t find another back-to-back winner.

“I thought that was kind of cool,” he said.

Mitchell quickly turned his attention to the upcoming track season. Piedmont is adding jumping pits to its facilities this year, eliminating the need to drive to Jacksonville twice a week to practice at the Jacksonville State track. Practice was to begin Tuesday, delayed a week by threatening weather last week.

Forty girls and an equal number of boys will make up the two teams. With so many, Mitchell will get help from Grace Strott and Patrick Walker. Walker will work with the throwers and Strott will oversee the long jump, triple jump and high jump. Mitchell said he will work with the sprinters, the distance runners and the hurdlers.

“I think we should be better this year than we were last year,” Mitchell predicted. “Not to say the people we lost are not going to be important but when we start practice (Tuesday) they’re already going to know what to expect and what to do and all that.”

The next step is to increase participation at the junior high level - Mitchell’s goal is 100 involved in track and field events overall - so the seventh, eighth and ninth grade students can run in junior high meets rather than just practice.
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Piedmont’s Mitchell wins national track award by Rip Donovan
Special to The Star

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