By T. Scott Boatright
Three new Ruston High School graduates took their next steps in the walk of life Friday morning as they signed scholarships to continue their track and field careers competing on the collegiate level.
Bearcats sprinter DaMarion Roane is headed to run for McNeese State while the Lady Bearcats tandem of Tyra Fields and Corlasia Scott are moving on to compete for Texas Junior College South Plains.
“Over the years we’ve had some outstanding athletes but this group here is really special,” said RHS head track and field coach Allen Whitaker. “The guys brought us a state championship and the girls brought us a regional championship. We hadn’t done that in a while.”
Whitaker spoke of his long relationship with Fields, who said she plans to major in nursing.
“I’ve watched Tyra grow up,” Whitaker said. “When she finally stepped on this campus and I saw her run, I knew she was going to be special. I knew that if she bought into my coaching for four years she could leave a state champion. We didn’t win a girls state championship on the team side but Tyra’s been a part of four or five individual state championships. She’s a school record holder as part of the 400-meter and 800m sprint medley teams. She came here and rewrote the record books.”
Whitaker said Scott, who was Field’s teammate on the RHS relay championship teams, took a different journey to earn her scholarship.
“We’ve really grown as far as having a relationship this year,” Whitaker said. “She played volleyball throughout her high school career and then she decided during her senior year to just buy into track. I knew that with her work ethic and the fact she was buying in full time, something special was going to happen. She’s a school record-holder on the relay teams and in the 800m hurdles. She grinds hard, just like the other girls, but she has a different kind of grind. I’m very proud of her.”
Scott, who said she’s “90% sure” she also wants to major in nursing, said she was happy to have Fields joining in her journey to South Plains.
“At first she wasn’t sure she was going to go there or not,” Scott said about Fields joining her in signing with South Plains. “I was going there either way. I was ready to go alone, but now I’ve got Tyra, so we’re probably going to be together a lot.”
Whitaker admitted to recruiting Roane to run track for years.
“I’d catch him in the hallway and tell him he needed to run track,” Whitaker said. “He’d tell me, ‘Coach, I have to focus on football.’ The next year the same thing. But I never stopped. So this year I stopped him in the hall and told him he was going to run the 400m for me. And he said, ‘I’m not a 400m runner.’ But he showed that he is and even more. He showed that he’s one of the best sprinters to ever come through this school. He’s the fastest 200m guy I’ve ever coached here, and I’ve coached some talented runners who have moved on to big-time college programs.”
Roane, who said he’s leaning toward majoring in business finance, said talking with McNeese’s coaching staff helped him make up his mind,
“I like what they were telling me,” Roane said. “It’s a good program and it’s going to help be further my education as well.