Spring break may be upon them, but that’s done nothing to slow down the student-athletes on Williamsburg’s track and field teams. With some teams preparing for their first outdoor meets and others having already run their first few, there will be no rest for Williamsburg’s top runners.
Few are more aware of that than Bruton High School junior Karena Glass, who recently won the indoor state title in the 55-meter hurdles. Even with the title, she knows there’s no time to take it easy.
“There’s still room for me to improve, I’d love to cut down more on my times, especially in my short distance sprints,” said Glass. “I want to defend my title, every state champ does, but I’m just as eager to work on becoming a more well-rounded athlete.”
That goal of improvement and making more well-rounded runners is one shared by new coach Justin Roberts. A former Bruton track star, he has high hopes for the school’s track and field team as a whole.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of athleticism on this team, and we’re doing all we can to take the good ones and turn them into great ones,” said Roberts. “Once we put our time in, get everybody up to speed, and start pushing them to where we know they can perform, our kids can compete on any level.”
Bruton isn’t the only school whose track and field team is under new leadership.
Over at Lafayette High School, coach Craig Wortman has taken over the squad after former coach Melvin Jones retired after 45 years. He said the mission is to maintain the course and the established tradition at Lafayette.
“We have a tradition of a lot of success here at Lafayette, and that’s not going to change now,” said Wortman. “We’ve got some talented seniors and some outstanding young athletes, including the state champ in the long jump Adam Leshinger, and just because leadership is passing the baton, doesn’t mean our runners are going to miss a step.”
Maintaining team and individual consistency is also a goal of several of team members, such as junior Braden Underwood. Underwood, who set a new regional record in the pole vault during the winter indoor track, has his eyes set even higher for the spring.
“I’ll be the first to admit my form was off early in the season, but things came together toward the end,” said Underwood. “I’m aiming for states in the spring, and I’d really like to break 15 feet in the pole vault, but more than anything else, I want to see the team do just as well, if not better.”
Jamestown High School has enjoyed success in track and field, as coach Mark Tompkins will be the first to tell you. This season will be a matter of small improvements.
We’ve had a very solid team these past three years, we have been regional runners-up in both indoor and outdoor track a few times,” said Tompkins. “It’s a matter of inches and seconds a lot of times, and we just need that extra push to go the distance.”
The members of the team seem prepared to give just a bit more this year. For seniors like Michael Epps, who has spent four years throwing discus for Jamestown, this season marks one last time he can push the team and himself a little bit further.
“We did well last year, even if we came short a few times, myself included sometimes,” said Epps. “I’ve thrown the discus 100 feet in practice, but never at a meet, I’ve been doing this four years, and I’d like to do that before the season is over.”
For Warhill, there have been major changes during the past year for track and field. Last year, the school fielded a track and field team numbering just more than a dozen members. This year, they’re fielding a team of more than 50, and according to new coach Kenneth Edwards, those aren’t the only numbers to have improved this year.
“As a former middle school art teacher, I know a blank canvas can either be intimidating or inspiring,” said Edwards. “We have a much larger team this year, and in our early meets, they’ve already been much more competitive, they’re competing in events Warhill has not traditionally competed in, so we’ve got an exciting season ahead, with more to come in the future.”
That optimism can also be seen in several senior team members, including Rodney Lewis III and Victoria Roggenbuch, who say the difference in team attitude and result was immediately apparent.
“The past few years, we may have had the heart, but not the numbers, but this year, we have the numbers to back the talent,” said Lewis III. “I’ve been here since I was a freshman, I’m providing leadership where we can, all the seniors are, while we’re still looking to perform at the highest level.”
Lewis III is looking to shave some time off his 400-meter dash while Roggenbuch is looking to do better in the hurdles, but as a team, they say Warhill has a message to any runners who judge them by past results.
“We’re a very different, much stronger team this year, so watch for us,” said Roggenbuch. “If you dismiss us, you’re going to be watching us pass right by you.”
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.