Patriots find hidden gems during rebuilding year
April 23, 2013
By David Hayes
When in the midst of a rebuilding year, coaches like Liberty High School’s Michael Smith are resigned to appreciate the little victories.
Take, for example, the Patriots’ home track meet April 18 against Mount Si. In the steady rain, Smith was able to find the silver lining in the girls’ narrow 2-point win and the boys’ 30-point loss.
“The weather was miserable. But, we have a well-protected stadium. If we had been at Mount Si, it would have been really cold and windy on top of being really wet,” Smith joked.
In all seriousness, Smith said he sees some strength in the girls’ team with its depth, which he said should help it remain competitive in dual meets. Anchoring efforts are the long-distance runners. Megan Chucka ran a KingCo-leading time in the 3,200 meters of 11 minutes, 27 seconds.
“Megan’s been to state the last two years and she’s been able to drag some of the other girls along with her to good performances,” Smith said.
Propelling the girls’ team to the victory over Mount Si were the relay teams in both the four-by-100 and four-by-200 meters, with Kelli Anderson and Cherelle and Danielle Demps pulling double duty on both squads.
On the boys’ team, Smith is lamenting losing three of the state’s top speeders to graduation last year and another two who decided not to turn out this spring. However, he’s still got Hiron Redman providing some thrills on the track. The senior sprinter had to overcome a slow start out of the blocks to win the 400 in 52.6 seconds.
When Redman found himself nearly 25 meters behind the pack, due to not warming up properly, he said after the race, he found another gear.
“I just kicked it,” he said.
The boys’ 1,600 relay team — of Romney Noel, Ashby Brown, Alex Olobia and Redman — was also able to cobble together a quality run, Smith said, breaking the 3:30 barrier for the first time this year, good enough for a top 10 time in 3A KingCo this season.
But, in the midst of a 30-point defeat, Smith might have found his brightest diamonds in the rough — twins Sean and Matt Campbell.
Known more for their prowess on the basketball court, Smith said he was able to talk the two into coming out for track for the first time.
“I told them they could do whatever they wanted,” Smith said. “I even told them I wouldn’t make them run at all.”
The two proceeded to make a quick impact for the team. Sean already has a state-qualifying throw in the javelin and Matt is the Patriots’ top chucker of the shot put.
Smith added that the goal with each of the girls’ and boys’ squads this year is to improve at each meet during the regular season and qualify as many as possible for KingCo and state championships, where anything can happen.
“We’ve got a young squad with a good attitude. You just never know,” he said.