HV track team puts in work at North

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   KINGSPORT--The Happy Valley track team traveled to Sullivan North on Tuesday, where it competed in an unofficial event in trying to get ready for this year's conference meet.
   The only two other schools that participated were Sullivan North and the Volunteer girls team, but it was still a great opportunity to get some practice in since the weather was permitting.
   "Volunteer and Sullivan North were both on spring break and we're getting ready to go on ours, and there's a lot of people going on trips, so were just getting together and having a good time here," said Happy Valley coach Don Verran. "We've saw a little improvement, but we haven't had much time due to the weather outside. I think you start pulling muscles and turn kids away from it.
   "We're just trying to maintain the kids we've got and hopefully we'll keep getting better and better."
   Happy Valley looks for some special things to come from senior Katie Williams, who is always a threat to compete for a state title in the distance running events.
   "I'm just trying to get back in the groove and things squared away," said Williams. "I finished first in the two-mile, but I was pacing myself because my coach is making me do three events, and that's the first time I've did that many all year.
   "I'm going for the school record in the 800 today, but if I don't get it then I will the next time out."
   The hard-nose coaches of Don and Scottie Verran certainly push their athletes in doing their best, but the special bond that has developed between student and teacher has been a key to success.
   "It's sad because I had some of the girls come up to me and say, 'You're not going to be here next year,' but I'm going to miss Scottie and Don the most though," said Williams. "I've been with them all four years here, and they're more like a grandfather and older brother to me.
   "I have respect for them. They're real easy going but they'll push you. I'll miss them -- they're great guys."
   Williams has already signed with UT Chattanooga earlier this school year, so her hopes of placing first to go along with an optimistic career afterwards is important.
   "This is my senior year so I have to get ready for college, because I'm going to UTC and I hope to contribute to their team," said Williams.
   Jenny Nagle is another senior who plans to contribute to the Warriors' girls track team, as she'll be heading off to college after the season and hopes to be able to continue her running.
   "I've got a trainer helping me outside of track, so that's been really helping me," said Nagle. "I'm going to miss cross country and track, and hopefully I can get a chance to run in college. King College is offering me a scholarship, but it's still a lot of money, so I'll have to wait and see."
   Nagle has competed since she was a freshman, and this year she's looking to cut down on her times and add some stability to the team mission.
   "I'm looking forward to improving my time in the 800 and getting a good 4x1800," said Nagle. "I'm looking to get down to 2:30 in the 800, because I've been working on it this year, so hopefully I can do that."
   There wasn't any of the seniors competing on the side of the boys, but a talent of underclassman was out trying to improve and get ready to make a good showing.
   Swafford still has a couple of years to develop, and at this point he looks to be right on pace to help out the Warrior boys.
   "We did pretty good today, but we still have a lot of work if we want to win our conference," said Swafford. "This is only our second meet, but everybody is running better times and trying to get our personal best records.
   "My best event is the 800 and I'm at 2:10 in my first meet, and I'm going to try to get it down to under 2:00 for the Region."
   Sullivan North appears to be strong in its field events, but the lack of participants could hurt them in overall team scores.
   The Golden Raiders have a good core of athletes, but it's going to rely on some good senior leadership to give them a chance in team competition due to the lack of participants.
   "We've got some seniors that look pretty good, and a couple of discus throwers who are top notch and shot-puters," said Sullivan North coach Keith Cox. "We don't have a full size team, which is indicative of the times I think far as track goes, but I've got some pretty young kids who are improving.
   "We have four girls returning from last year who are Amanda Frazier, Sarah Frazier, Amanda Carroll and Crystal Millen -- and they're all pretty good."
   Volunteer's girls competed in the small event, as it gave them an opportunity to get out instead of setting around the house while on spring break.
   The Falcons are headed by a respected veteran coach, who is known for her knowledge of both track and field competition.
   "We're on spring break right now and don't have but about half our team here, but hopefully we have a couple of individuals that we expect to do well this year," said Volunteer coach Claudette Sivert. "We have Jacklyn Talbert and we're not sure where she'll compete at right now. Another top runner is Brandy Barton in the hurdles, and those are probably now our two top performers."