Warriors groom for new season

By Allen LaMountain

   For the Happy Valley Warrior track team, distance may make all the difference. Distance runners are the known quantity on the Warrior squad in both boys and girls distance events.
   The sprinters are as yet the unknown quantity, but could still prove to have quality.
   "I have some very fair medium and distance runners," said HV head coach Don Verran. "At the sprinters spots we are very young."
   Distance runners David Hughes and Bo Milhorn are known for their finishing kicks, with Hughes having competed at the state level in the mile and two-mile events.
   "David and Bo are very good finishers and are a main part of the team," said Verran. "We sent eight runners to the state tournament last year as both our one and two-mile relay teams went."
   Hughes competed at the state meet in the 3,200 event, finishing second.
   The boys 4 X 800 looks solid with Cody Cannon, Milhorn, Hughes and Dalton all strong runners.
   In boys hurdles, Mel Ramey and Les Howell are the expected entries for the Warriors, but a lot of spots are still up in the air according to Verran.
   "We haven't found spots for everyone as yet," Verran commented. "It's been tough with the weather the last few days, but you want to make sure that you find the right spot for the athlete. You want to put them in a position to succeed."
   The field events will be held down by Forrest Holt -- discus and possibly shot put, and Matt Dalton -- pole vault. Holt took top honors in discus at the Appalachian Conference meet with a toss of 121'6".
   Dalton has also competed successfully in the 400-meter event and the mile relay. Chris Campbell competed successfully in triple jump and high jump last season for HV and should return.
   "We are still working on the shot put, but overall I would say we have a good group of young kids," Verran stated. "The main thing is that we are young. On the girls team the sprinters we have are mostly freshmen."
   For girls distance runners, they don't get much better than the Lady Warriors Katie Williams. Williams has been a top conference and individual competitor for the past two years, and this year could be her best ever.
   Williams won the 1,600 events in the EHS, Watauga Conference and Appalachian Conference meets last season. Williams also finished just shy of making the state, finishing third at the sub-state meet in both the 800 and 1,600 events.
   "Katie Williams is our distance runner, and she is a good one," said Verran. "We expect her to do well in distance running events. That's one area where an athlete really has to train. You can walk down a hall in school and see a number of sprinters, but not many long distance runners."
   Others that the Warrior coach is working with are Emily Schmidt, Erin Dalton and Ginny Neagle.
   One girl that will be missed through graduation is Jessica Lenden, who competed strongly in the triple jump and 200-meter dash.
   Among the athletes Verran is working with in distance running are freshmen Beth Hodge, Ashton Irick and Jessica Phillips.
   "Right now I don't know what events we'll schedule them in," Verran said. "We are just trying to get them in condition right now.
   "The key right now is finding the right athlete for the right event. In that way we can maximize whatever potential the athlete has."
   The Warriors open with a meet at Sullivan East on Thursday, March 21.