A youth movement has seen the Lady Red track and field team swell to record numbers for the 2009 season.
“The two previous years I was here we never had more than seven girls on our high school track team,” said first year Lady Red Track and Field Head Coach Richard Bassett. “This year we have over twenty.”
Bassett, in his third year at GHS, will be fielding a team composed mostly of underclassmen.
“We’re a really young team,” Bassett said. “Our freshman class did really well last year in junior high and almost all of them have come back this year.”
The increased student-athlete presence will open up new avenues of opportunity for the Lady Red squad.
“With only seven girls you could have some athletes that competed for individual wins but we couldn’t compete for team honors,” Bassett said. “Because we have numbers now we can go to meets and compete as a team and that’s exciting for us.”
Besides the new recruits the team will return some proven performers as well.
“Shandi Crossley will be back throwing shot and disc and Tierra Graham is a pole vaulter who is back. They’re both seniors,” Bassett said.
Crossley is still in a cast from a bone spur operation performed earlier this year.
“Shandi should have her cast off within a week,” Bassett said. “I don’t know how long it will take her to get up to full speed but she’ll be able to start working and practicing her form.”
Crossley has set some big goals for herself this season according to the coach.
“In my two years here Shandi has always done well through the season,” Bassett said. “She wants to take it further this year and have a great regional and state meet.”
Besides Graham and Crossley, senior Margaret Pogue is returning to the track team for her first season since junior high and will compete in the disc and shot.
“Margaret hasn’t thrown since junior high but she said she’d give it a try this season,” Bassett said. “She’s strong and smart. Once she gets the technique down she should do really well.”
Junior hurdler Peri Lane, a previous state qualifier, is returning to the team for ’09.
Assisting Bassett this season will be Coach Ron Culwell and Coach Keni Iverson.
“Coach Culwell takes care of all the throwers and he does a good job,” Bassett said. “We all feel fortunate to have Coach Iverson with us. She’s headed up some phenomenal programs in the past. We twisted her arm and begged her to come out and help. She’s going to make a huge difference for the girls’ team and the boys’ team because she really knows about the high jump, the long jump, and the hurdles. She’s really, really good at teaching about that.
“I feel fortunate to get to work with her because she probably knows more about the sport than I do,” Bassett added.
The coming track and field season could be the foundation for larger things to follow in the Lady Red program.
“We’re young but if everybody works hard then we can have success,” Bassett said.