CAMDEN - Flashback a decade and Camden boys’ track coach Matt Marshall might have been talking about himself.
“They are the future,” Marshall said about the Panthers special sophomore sprinters Dontae Guest and Hakeem Evans. “They are the future of our program.
Marshall was a former state champion hurdler at The High, where he also starred in football. He went on to play defensive back at the University of Arkansas and earned a tryout with the Eagles.
So, obviously, Marshall knows what he sees. He knows what he is talking about. And, he knows what can be when talking about Guest and Evans.
Evans, 16, is flashing the most promise in the 110 hurdles, but he also competes in the 100, 200, 400 as well as the 400 hurdles. He also runs on the Camden relay teams in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400.
“I don’t feel a lot of weight on my shoulders that I have to live up to,” Evans said.
Guest, 15, is showing the most potential in the 400. He also runs the 800 and competes on the 4x400 relay for the Panthers.
“I feel some pressure, but it’s not like I’m losing any focus,” Guest said.
Last Saturday at the Camden County Championships, Camden won the boys’ Small School Division with 85 points to better second place Haddonfield by seven points.
Afterwards, Marshall talked about the “rich history and legacy” of the program and how they try to continue the standard with each stride in every race.
As high as Marshall is on the future, he is equally high on the present. And for good reason as The High is receiving leadership and points from upper classmen.
Damon Rice, a senior, and JaJuan Hudson, a junior, both won two events to lead the Panthers to the Camco title. Rice won the 200 meters with a 22.57 and the 400 in 49.90 while Hudson won the 110 hurdles in 15.29 and the long jump with a 21-10.
Guest, who is from the Parkside section in Camden, placed second in the 400 with a 51.02.
“It feels good, especially the first time doing so good,” Guest said about his most recent success.
In the 4x400 relay on the Haddon Township track, the team of Ra’Mer Nock leading off, Hudson, Guest and Haafiz Walker-Muhammad smoked a 3:23.11 for the gold medal
The previous week, at the South Jersey Coaches Invitational, the Panthers swept the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. The High won the 4x100 with Hudson, Nock, Rice and Evans finishing in 43.08 and the Panthers won the 4x400 with Evans leading off followed by Hudson, Nock and Rice at anchor in 3:26.28.
Last Month, the Camden 4x400 team raced at the Penn relays and clocked a swift 3:19 54, but the team was disqualified for running out of lane.
“I was a little disappointed, but it’s not like we didn’t run the time,” said Evans, who lives in East Camden, on the DQ.
The time is now. Yes, Evans and Guest are the future of the Camden program, but the future is already here.
“I know we can do it,” Evan said, “we’re already doing it and we are only sophomores.”