Lady Warriors building for state competition

Photo by Dave Boyd
From left, (front) Katie Williams, Kortney Goulds, Jennifer Neagle, (back) Katie Hyder, Jennifer Black, Samantha Canter, Kate Powell, Amber Garland and Shanna Raines.

By Marvin Birchfield
The Happy Valley cross country team hopes to be on pace once the state tournament rolls around, as they'll be led by two seniors who look to put the Warriors in front.
All eyes will be on Katie Williams and Kortney Goulds, who made the all-state teams last season, and it appears they have no intentions of slowing down.
"I just love to run, and the expectations are to win and keep pushing myself and pushing my team," said Williams.
Williams has impressively made all-state in all of her years at Happy Valley, and after a seventh-place showing last year, her chances to become the top runner in the state are highly possible.
"I've surprised myself already by cutting off my time and running as fast as I have, and everyone else has been doing the same," said Williams.
Even though there are high expectations for Williams to place well, she just likes going out and getting the job done without a lot of pressure.
"I really hate expectations because it puts a damper on you because you're under pressure," said Williams. "I just like to feel stress free, and at big meets I don't like to have anyone around me."
Williams has definitely made her impact with the Warrior squad, as she's the only athlete at Happy Valley to place all-state in all four years.
"I just want to thank my family in all of their support, and also God," said Williams.
Goulds is another senior who has shined in her career at Happy Valley.
Being named to the all-state team in all but one year has also made her one of the runners who is expected to have a great season.
"I think our team has high expectations this year, and we want nothing more than a state championship," said Goulds. "I want to make all-state but more importantly I want our team to do well."
Goulds admits to not training over the summer like she needed too, but she is still a good athlete who'll be able there when it counts.
"I didn't run as much as I should this summer, and I'm just now getting back into shape," said Goulds. "I've already cut two minutes off my time from last year, so I'm real happy with that, and the coach pushes us really hard."
Goulds is trying to follow in her brother's foot steps by competing in a state championship, and as long as she has the focus and dedication, then nothing is impossible.
The girls team as a whole is quite strong for the Warriors this season, but the depth factor could hinder its performance on down the road.
"We have a pretty fair girls team, but we just don't have much depth," said Happy Valley coach Don Verran. "In other words, the sixth and seventh runners right now need to come on."
The top of the running order for the Warriors should be one of the area's best, though, so don't be surprised if Happy Valley makes a big run toward the end of the season.
"The top five are solid, and the top two made all-state last year, with Katie, if she makes it, all four years here," said Verran. "Kortney would have probably done the same, except when she was a sophomore she hurt her knee."
Happy Valley has a couple of new faces this year, who look to help improve the Lady Warrior overall efforts.
"We have a freshman Samantha Canter, who stands out a little bit more than the others, and she's our fifth runner right now," said Verran. "We also have a transfer in Ashley Flynn, who is sixth on the team."
Verran has been pleased so far with one of his returning runners, Katie Powell, who has been able to pick up her time from last season.
"Katie Powell has probably made the biggest improvement from last season, and of course some of the other girls we depend up on, like Shanna Raines and Jenny Neagle (have also improved)," said Verran.
The Warriors' chances for sweeping the conference would look good in most, but with state runner-up Sullivan Central in the way, it won't be easy.
"We have to go by Sullivan Central, and they've placed runner-up in the state the past two years," said Verran. "It's a big mountain to climb, but we think we might have the ammunition."
On the boys' side of thing, the Warriors are hampered with the lack of participation, with just one runner on the team, along with losing state champion David Hughes.
"Dustin Green is a good kid and likes to run, but it takes four others, and he'll only be able to compete individually," said Verran. "He's a sophomore and his time has come down drastically, but he is still growing and enjoys the sport, so he'll make a good one."