Five top performers graduated and Northeastern Coastal Conference Girls Track Athlete of the Year Ashleigh Cleveland is now at North Carolina School of Science and Math.
But Currituck girls track coach Lorie Davis still has plenty to work with this spring as the defending NCC champion Lady Knights try to fend off an expected challenge from Pasquotank.
“After losing five outstanding seniors last year, (assistant coach) Dan Cleveland and I were a bit concerned about how to fill the holes,” Davis said. “However, after a productive indoor season, we have picked up a great group of young, energetic newcomers and we are feeling much more confident about our team as a whole.”
Senior middle distance standout Emily Latimer, 400 ace/jumper Courtney Clarke and weight thrower Kayla Powell are the most notable returnees at Currituck.
Pasquotank returnees include Chelsey Elliott, the reigning
Daily Advance Female Track Athlete of the Year; standout sprinter Destiny Rhem and star jumper Jackie McLaughlin.
In the Four Rivers Conference, Camden and Perquimans each welcome back several outstanding individuals.
Coach: Lori Davis, sixth year
2012 NCC finish: First
Outlook: Most of the graduation losses came in the middle distance events that the Lady Knights used as a springboard to two titles in the last three years.
But Emily Latimer, a former two-time NCC 800 champion and the reigning Daily Advance Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, is primed for a big outdoor season and holdover Kelsie Gardner (third in the NCC 800, fourth in the 3,200) and Sydnie Phillips, a freshman who stood out in cross country last fall, and sophomore Kaitlin Perkins will help maintain the tradition.
The bigger loss is Cleveland, who won three events (100 and 300 hurdles, high jump) and finished second in another (triple jump) as a sophomore at last year’s conference meet.
Currituck will just have to shift its focus to other events. Seniors Courtney Clarke, a three-time 400 titlist in the NCC and a regular scorer in the long jump, and Powell, the NCC discus winner who went on to take third in the 3A East Region and third in the state and was second in the conference shot, will surely deliver in their specialities.
Veterans Marissa Breathwaite (second in NCC 400), Shekina Mullin (100, 200, triple jump) and Man’Nyiah Iglesias (third in NCC shot) will also score well. Iglesias is actually out-throwing Powell in the discus in practice.
Freshman Lauren Cooper (sprints, jumps) and soph Alina Aviles (jumps) also figure to score.
“Despite their inexperience, we have added some great depth in our throwing and jumping events,” coach Lori Davis said. “Our middle distances continue to be strong and with a few new athletes our sprints are beginning to come together.”
Coach: Tony Johnson, first year
2012 NCC finish: Fourth
Outlook: The Lady Eagles won’t have enough depth to contend for a title, but Laura Fletcher and Tyianna Coleman are a couple of quality athletes to provide good examples.
Fletcher, a senior, was fourth in the NCC 400 and qualified for the 2A East Region meet and was fourth in the conference high jump while Coleman, a junior, was fifth in the NCC long jump.
First-year coach Tony Johnson will be looking for Julia Maxwell, Dara Drury, Kyeaisha Banks and Shy’re Welch to score points, too.
“We are a young team that is learning to be disciplined and train at a high level,” Johnson said. “We should place higher than fourth in the conference this season.”
Coach: Ray Burnham, first season
2012 NCC finish: Second
Outlook: A year ago, the Lady Panthers were a distant second in the conference meet, but could overtake champion Currituck this time around.
Chelsey Elliott, a junior, scored big points in every big meet last year, taking third in the state 2A meet in the discus and fourth in the shot; first in the shot and second in the discus at the NCC meet and second in the discus and third in the shot at the 2A East Region meet. She also runs a leg on the Pasquotank sprint relay teams that are usually among the NCC’s best.
Rhem, a senior, won NCC 100 and 200 titles and was third in the region 200. She, too, is a sprint relay staple.
McLaughlin, a senior, is literally an up-and-down jumper, but when she is on she is among the best. McLaughlin is a two-time NCC long jump champ and took second in the region and seventh in the state. She was also third in the NCC and fourth in the region triple jump and has anchored the sprint relay teams the first three years of her high school career.
Burnham, who has the uneviable task of replacing long-time coach Cleon Cunningham, is expecting Courtney Martin (300 hurdles, high jump) and Amani Hill, a sprinter, to help out.
“The key for us is to build on what Coach Cunningham has built up already,” Burnham said. “And with three all-conference players this season could be exciting.”
Coach: Thomas Gardner, 11th season
2012 Four Rivers finish: Second
Outlook: Veteran coach Thomas Gardner is expecting another successful season.
“We have a strong group of veterans and a lot of good freshmen runners,” he said. “We will compete for the conference championship.”
Heading the list of veterans is sprinter/jumper Chasante’ Jones. She was second in the conference long jump and 400, fifth in the 1A East Region long jump and ran on the conference-winning 4x200 relay that qualified for the state 1A meet.
Olivia Djoboulian and Brittany Harrison, other members of the 4x200 team, are also back, along with sprinter/hurdler Britanny Richards and thrower Te-Te Bogues.
Farrah Sutton and Sydney McCoy will add to the sprinting depth.
Coach: Michael Horwat, fifth season
2012 Four Rivers finish: Third
Outlook: Kenya Downing, a sophomore who was the MVP of the conference meet, is enough reason for optimism by herself. She won the 100, 200 and high jump and ran a leg on the winning 4x100 relay. Downing was second in the region in the high jump and helped the Lady Pirates 4x100 relay take third in the region.
But there’s more.
Fellow sprinters Quandrea Foster, Da’Zha Harvey and Shaqueenie Wilson are also back. Harvey and Foster were second in the Four Rivers high jump and 200, respectively. Harvey was fourth in the region high jump.
Freshmen Alexis Evans and Shontasia Lee have looked good in practice.
“This is a great group of girls who work hard,” coach Michael Horwat said. “We are deep in sprinting events, but lack depth in distance events. We’re looking for some good things to happen in field events to help carry the team to victory.”
Editor’s note: No information was provided for the Edenton girls track team