Before the start of the 2010 high school track and field season, Rappahannock County head coach Scott Stephens went from team member to team member and asked what goals he or she had set.
Nearly every one of them offered the same answer: to improve performances and to reach the Group A state track and field meet June 5 at Radford University.
“For us to win a [Bull Run] District title,” Stephens pointed out, “it is almost impossible unless with have numbers. But if a kid is willing to work, willing to put the time in, we can get him to states. Our kids know that.”
Six of the past seven years, Rappahannock County has had at least one runner or field events competitor qualify for the state meet. Stephens hopes that number will increase this spring.
The Panthers return one of their state qualifiers in senior Sarah Garrison, who finished sixth last spring in the 400-meter run. Garrison will compete again in the 400 and 4×400 relay, but also will run the 800.
One of her 4×400 relay teammates is another senior, Carly Day, who demonstrates a workhorse approach when she competes. She is slated to do the long, high and triple jumps, along with the 4×100 relay and the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
The girls’ 4×100 relay team could contend for a chance to go to the state meet. Besides Day, the Panthers have juniors Joslyn Smith and Ashlee Armor. If the girls’ team finds a strong fourth runner, Stephens looks for a nice showing this spring from that foursome.
On the boys’ side, Stephens is looking for big things from seniors Reed Dove and Justin Fitzmorris and freshman Josh Frye.
Dove will anchor the distance corps as he gives the Panthers experience in the 800. He also competes in the 4×400 and the 300-meter hurdles.
Fitzmorris runs the 400 and 4×400 relay, while Frye will be tested in the long, triple and high jumps, 200 and 400 and run a leg of the 4×400 relay.
Stephens likes what he has seen from those Panthers competing in the 4×400 relay.
“If those guys go to states, they will place,” he said.
While Rappahannock County’s numbers are small (14 girls, 20 boys), Stephens said the goal to reach the state meet pushes the Panthers to get better with each meet.
“We’ve got some people who have the possibility of making it to the higher levels of competition,” Stephens added. “They know what they want. They need to go out and do it.”