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HIGH SCHOOL TRACK NOTEPAD: Panthers optimistic team is on the rise
The Massaponax girls track and field team is filled with youth, and the Panthers weren’t able to develop during the winter because Spotsylvania County Public Schools cut indoor track years ago.
But that has little effect on the expectations of first-year head coach Stacey Durham.
Ten of Massaponax’s 21 girls are freshmen. However, with speedy newcomers like Kayla Bowler and Alexis Willis, Durham believes his program’s future is bright.
“They’re getting in the mode of not being scared,” Durham said of his youngsters. “They’re trying to strive for achievements even higher than my expectations.”
Massaponax is led by senior standout Savannah Osborne, who has qualified for the Group AAA meet in the long jump and triple jump the past two seasons.
However, Durham said Bowler, Willis and Haley Heath should leave an impression on the rest of the Commonwealth District this season as well.
Bowler and Willis are slated to run the 200 and 400 meters. Heath is an 800 runner. Durham said their tenacity should help them this season, particularly Willis.
“I feel like I don’t have enough space to put her everywhere,” Durham said. “She and Kayla are two strong freshmen. And along with Savannah, the three of them are getting the rest of the group going.”
Durham believes he now has the nucleus to build a successful program. Massaponax hasn’t had much track and field success since the school opened in 1998.
Durham made previous coaching stops at Brooke Point, T.C. Williams and Mount Vernon before he became a Massaponax assistant last season.
He lamented the lack of winter track programs in the county and hopes they return in the future. He said Massaponax had 60 athletes come out for a club program this past winter, but the two school gymnasiums were occupied by the basketball and wrestling teams, respectively. Eventually cold weather chased the athletes away and ended the program.
“As soon as the temperatures dropped,” Durham said, “they scattered like birds flying south for the winter.”