Thirty-five Greybull Middle School sprinters, throwers and jumpers are gearing up for another strong season after top-three finishes at their last two track meets.
Claiming third at the Greybull Middle School Invitational on April 1 and edging out host Burlington Middle School for second at the Burlington Middle School Invite on April 8, the GMS team prepares for what will possibly be another record-breaking season.
“I’ve been really impressed so far and I expect it to get better,” said Coach Tenika Eardley. “I’ve got kids who are really motivated and a team who is very supportive of each other. I anticipate improvements across the board as the season goes on.” According to Eardley, participation rates are down slightly, though the team does have a solid core of committed athletes to anchor the squad.
“I’ve got a pretty goodsized group of sixth graders. About half – maybe less – [of the team] returned from last year,” she said.
While Eardley looks forward to seeing school records fall, she said that she is most excited about fostering a sense of accomplishment and achievement among her runners, particularly the new ones.
“I want kids to find their potential and figure out what their capable of, to realize that they can do hard things and push through,” she said. “I’ve had kids already this year surprise themselves with what they can do. That’s my goal – to see that every kid can find that in themselves.”
Eardley said the season is starting off strong and bodes well for their conference and regional prospects.
“This season is going to be good – really good. We were blown away with some of the results at the Greybull meet, and I’m certain everyone improved in at least one area at Burlington. I expect a steady climb from here,” she said.
The team came in third at the Greybull Middle School Memorial Invitational, scoring 244 points. They were very narrowly edged out by Meeteetse Middle School, who scored 245.5 points – 1.5 more than GMS. Like their high school counterparts, Rocky Mountain Middle School emerged as the undisputed first-place school; they racked up 465.5 points, 220 more than their closest challenger.
“We’re a smaller school and smaller team than some of the schools we compete against. Considering that, we do very well,” Eardley said.
Burlington boded better for the junior Buffs, who finished second – ahead of host Burlington Middle School. Rocky Mountain repeated their dominance at Burlington, scoring 409 points; Greybull, the second-place team, only put up 269.5.
Several returning sprinters and jumpers anchor the team this season, while a good number of new runners show good prospects. According to Eardley, Torrey Sanford has emerged as a dominant sprinter in the 800 and 1600 meter runs. While she finished first at the Greybull invite, Sanford was edged out by fractions of a second at Burlington.
“Torrey got second in the 800 and 1600 meter races [at Burlington] – she was one second behind the first place. Had they been in the same heat, I am 100 percent confident she would have won,” Eardley said, praising incredible drive and determination. “She has this look on her face that says she’ll mow you over,”she added.
Sprinter Brooke Flock is gunning for the eighth grade 1600 meter record. Eardley said Flock’s 6:36.62 finish at Burlington was mere tenths of a second off from the school record.
Gaven McColloch also seeks to dethrone the current boys 1600 record holder and is pushing to get his time under five minutes; he currently averages a time of 5:30 in the event.
On the high jump, Eardley is excited to see how Bree Benasky does; Eardley also expressed excitement at the prospect of the eighth grade girls 400 meter relay breaking another school record.
“We crushed several school records last year and I only see more records coming down this season,” she said.
Of the newer runners, Eardley says Monique Velasquez demonstrates major promise. According to her, Monique ran the 400 meter for first time took first Burlington.
“It’s a hard race – it’s a long sprint that really burns. I think we’ve got her hooked. I’d love to see her go on to High School and see what she could do,” she said.
The sixth grade 1600 meter relay team is currently shy of the five-minute mark; Eardley hopes to work with them to break their goal.
She also said her group of hurdlers, who were hard to come by last year, demonstrate promise. “I don’t know if I had anyone hurdle last year, but I’ve got a group of hurdlers that are going to be pretty good. They’ve come a long way since day one – it’s not an easy thing to do,” Eardley said.
She also said Shayla Cheatham and Dale McBride are shaping up to be strong throwers; Shayla took first in both the discus and shot put while Dale has placed at both meets thus far.
While records may fall and personal bests will be broken, Eardley said that is not her main focus of the season. She hopes to not only support the students, but also motivate them as both runners and individuals.
“This season I want them to have fun and enjoy it. It’s very important for me to see them realize their potential.”