MORE: Full 2009 MT signing class | Five who shined in MT spring game | Discuss with Blue Raider fans
Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill and his staff place a premium on speed each year when they search for the next crop of Blue Raiders.
That was certainly the case as the MT staff pieced together the 2009 staff, and the evidence is impossible to deny as future Blue Raiders are popping up all over the southeast as state high school track championships are set to be decided.
GoMiddle.com breaks down the MT signees that have qualified for their state's track and field finals.
Middle Tennessee signees showcasing speed, athleticism
5-10/170, Lithonia (Ga.) Miller Grove
Events: 100 meters, 200 meters, 4X100-meter relay, 4X400-meter relay
Notes: Gilstrap has had an outstanding senior season. He owns the nation's fastest times this year in the 100 (10.31) and the 200 (20.98). His relay team has clocked the country's best 4X100 time this year (40.98).
Quote: "My times should go down some more with the right climate."
6-2/245, Forsyth (Ga.) Mary Persons
Notes: Hamlin put the shot 54 feet 2 inches to win the region championship. The distance was a new personal best.
Quote: "(Winning the state title) is going to be tough but I've been working hard this week to get better. I'm going to compete hard."
6-2/174, Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
Events: 400 meters and 4X100 meter relay
Notes: Drake won a region championship with a 48.7 second time in the 400. His personal best time is 48.15. He finished third in the state 400 meter finals last year.
Quote: "After track season I am going to start working out for football. I need to work on trying to get up to about 195 pounds. I'm about 180 right now."
LB Craig Allen
6-3/215, Villa Rica (Ga.) Villa Rica
Event: Triple jump
Notes: Allen won a region championship with a triple jump of 46 feet 2 inches. His personal best jump is 48 feet 3 inches. This will be his third appearance at the state meet.
Quote: "I've been working hard and trying to get bigger. I'm trying to get up to about 220 or 225 pounds. (MT) has linebackers but I know I have a chance to come in and compete."
6-3/245, Darian (Ga.) McIntosh County Academy
Notes: Upshaw placed second in the region meet with a throw of 126 feet. His personal best throw is 157 feet. Upshaw finished sixth in the state at last year's meet.
Quote: "I've been following the conditioning program that MT sent down. It's challenging and a lot of running but I'm keeping up with it."
6-1/204, Naples (Fla.) Naples
Event: 110 meter hurdles
Notes: Prudhomm won his district championship and finished third at regionals. He ran the event in 14.46 seconds earlier this year, breaking a school record that had stood for 30 years.
Quote: "I would like to set a new personal record (at the state meet). I've been working hard for this."
DL Jimmy Staten
6-3/217 Waycross (Ga.) Ware County
Events: Discus, shotput
Notes: Staten qualified for the state meet by finishing first in his region in the discus and second in the shotput. He qualified for the state meet last year but didn't place in either event. His future roommate at MT, Derrek Upshaw, is a rival in the discus.
Quote: "(Derrek and I) have fun with (the rivalry), but at the same time we compete at it."
6-3/210 Fayetteville (Ga.) Starr's Mill
Event: 110 meter hurdles
Notes: Roberts finished second in his region with a time of 14.9 seconds, a new personal best in the event. He hopes to weigh 225-230 pounds when he arrives at MT.
Quote: "(MT) has told me I have a chance to come in and compete to start as long as I work hard. I need to work on using my hands better, getting off blocks."
Running back Ben Cunningham (Nashville Goodpasture) will run the 100 and 200 meters and the 4X100 meter and 4X200 meter relays in Tuesday's sectional meet to attempt to advance to the state meet. Cunningham ran 10.8 in the 100 at the Great 8 Invitational meet, an event that brings together the year's top eight mid-state performers in individual events.
Safety prospect Sammy Seamster (Ooltewah) will run in the sectional meet this week in the 100-meters and 200-meters, in addition to the 4X100 meter relay and 4X200 meter relay. His low 100-meter time this year is 10.7 seconds. He has been timed as low as 21.6 seconds in the 200-meters this year.