ANDERSON, Ind. —
Liberty Christian is set to embark on its third track season. The program has grown substantially from a team total of nine (combined boys and girls) to this season where the girl’s team has cracked double digits with 11.
“Last year we had nothing but growth,” coach Paul Jessup said. “The team was basically unfamiliar on how to run a track meet. By the end of the season, we had some athletes close to making it out of sectionals.”
Freshman for the girls Michaela McCurdy, a distance runner that advanced to the semi-state cross-country meet during the 2012-13 season.
Shaylie Rayl and Layla Hughel-Deeds, a pair of sprinters that Jessup will look at to get points early in meets to set the tone for rest of the team.
Madison-Grant, like many other smaller schools, faces an uphill battle when trying to fill a track and field team. This season is no different for the Brook Justus coached Argylls
“We don’t have a lot of numbers at Madison-Grant,” Brooke Justus said. “With small numbers it is hard to be competitive as a team.”
Justus said shot and discus thrower Bethani Herniak will likely be a top-point scorer for the 17-member team. The junior, who advanced to regionals a year ago, will be joined in the throwing events by freshman Rachel Coppess.
Erin Peacock, a senior mid-distance runner looks to continue her success with the Argylls in the 800-meter after setting a school record in that event during last season’s Warsaw regional event.
Freshman Tori Galloway and junior Haniah Stansberry lead the list of hopefuls looking to make an impact during this season.
First-year coach Melissa Hagerman hopes to build on the Pendleton Heights High School girls’ track team success from last season that produced county tournament, conference and sectional championship.
“With the coaching change there were a few girls that decided they did not want to come out (for the team),” Hagerman said. “We lost some of our upperclassmen when that happened. In ways we are kind of rebuilding. There are a lot of new faces that I have not seen in years past.”
One newcomer is freshman distance runner Alex Buck. Her preparation for this season has been slowed as she recovered from a foot fracture that occurred during her 40th place finish during the cross-country semi-state meet.
Seniors Anna Dudley and Emma Manchess will guide the teams distance and long relay groups. Dudley is one of the team captains while Manchess has accepted a scholarship offer from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, according to Hagerman.
Junior Kiawna Cottrell will help lead during the short distance events as well as her newest event the long jump
In the field events, the lone returning thrower is junior Elaine Stephenson, who will lead a group of freshmen.
“Our big focus is on the regional this year,” Hagerman said. “I really think there are some girls on the team that have the ability to go to state. As a coach I want to do everything I can to make that happen.”