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TRACK: Lady Hawks learn teamwork

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By Ron Benningfield

 The strength of this year’s LaRue County High School girls’ track team likely lies in the athletes knowing that there is always room for improvement, according to coach Laura Kudrna.

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“None of the girls come out thinking they know it all or that they are the sole individual to win it all for the team,” said the fifth-grade teacher at Hodgenville Elementary School, in her third year as coach. “We all know that everyone contributes to the team, whether it’s an individual event, relay or field.”

She said her Lady Hawks, showing high team spirit, are constantly learning from each other as how to better themselves both on and off the track.

The coach acknowledged a lack of confidence among team members that needs strengthening. 

“We are a small girls’ team and even though our team spirit is high, I often see them worrying about who their competitors are from other schools,” Kudrna said. “The girls research the other schools’ athletes that they will be competing against. Sometimes they let that information get inside their heads and they doubt themselves.”

Calling her team “a work in progress,” Kudrna said she always tells them not to worry about the other teams, but to give their best.

“Our goal as a team is to perform better than the last meet,” she said.  “Setting personal goals and accomplishing them helps build the confidence up not only for the team but also for the individual as well.”

Senior Shaila Winston (long jump, 100, 200, 4x200, 4x100) is among the veterans.

“Shaila is just coming off a very successful basketball season and is still working on conditioning herself back into track mode,” Kudrna said. “However her practice start times are not too far off from last season so I am looking for fast improvements and lots of personal records.”

The coach described another senior, Logan Grant, as a sprinter with great form and a seriousness about her when she runs.

Senior Sheri Myers is more focused than ever, according to her coach.

“She plans on excelling in discus,” Kudrna said. “She is a great motivator on the team and is willing to help all the new girl throwers perfect their event.”

Misha Jakes, a junior, is a returning high jumper. The coach said she is starting out at a four-foot, two-inch height consistently, has broken that height, and looks to break the 4-4 height that she earned at the Grayson County All-Comers Meet.

Destinee Young, also a junior and a returning sprinter, notched consistent preseason times. Great in relays, Young will be quickly decreasing her times in the 200, 4x200, and 4x100, according to Kudrna.

Amanda Brewer, 10th grade, is a returning hurdler and distance runner.  

Just coming off an ankle injury, sophomore Courtni Price is expected to be a key runner in the 4x400, 4x200, 200, and 100. Sophomore Harley Keller returns as a thrower and distance runner.

Freshman Nichole Thomas (triple jump, 800 and 4x800 relay) is very ambitious in breaking her times and learning on how to increase her jumps, the coach commented.

Newcomers to arrive, all sophomores, are Bethany Akin and twins Darian and Delaina White.

“Bethany ran prior to my years of coaching the girls’ team and has come out as a strong relay runner and a possible hurdler,” said Kudrna. “Darian is a new sprinter and long jumper who is a hard worker, always giving 100 percent, and willing to learn more.”

She added that Delaina, a nice surprise for sprints, is learning hurdles.

Kudrna sees Jakes and Myers showing early signs as team leaders.

“Both girls are always looking for new drills or workouts that the team can do together or for individual events,” the coach said. “Misha gets the team ready for warm-ups and stretches and Sheri has even suggested and helped those athletes on the team who need academic assistance in tutoring. Both girls look out for their team members.”

Last year, LaRue placed fifth overall in the Region, advancing to state in three events. The Lady Hawks 4x800 team finished ninth at state.

Senior Alisha Durbin, out this year because of a back injury that occurred during basketball season, took first place in the long jump last season, leaping 15 feet, 1 inch. She also advanced to the state in the 100 hurdles. 

“She will not be running this season due to physical therapy and doctors’ appointments to help heal her back,” said Kudrna. “She will be playing basketball her freshman year of college and needs to be 100 percent for that. She will be with the team as a manager.”