Liberty track bests Interlake
April 29, 2014
By Christina Corrales-Toy
As the Liberty High School track and field teams’ seniors gathered for a picture in what was the last home meet of their careers April 24, Patriots coach Mike Smith couldn’t believe how small the group was.
“It was kind of like, ‘Wow, that’s all we’ve got?’” he said. “But that’s pretty typical.”
The Patriots are indeed young this year, Smith said, but their youth didn’t hinder them as the boys and girls defeated Interlake April 24.
In what was one of the few rainless meets of the season, the girls won convincingly, 102-39, while the boys eked out a 73-69 victory.
Liberty juniors Danielle and Cherelle Demps are known for their prowess on the basketball court. The twins were key factors in the Patriots’ surprising turnaround this season.
Now, the Dempses are playing an equally important part on the school’s track and field team, Smith said.
“The Demps twins are great. I mean Cherelle broke the record in the 100 and Danielle’s got one of the better long jumps in KingCo this year,” he said. “They are the backbone of the sprinting and jumping side.”
Against Interlake, Cherelle won both the 100- and 200-meter races. Her time in the 100, 11.9 seconds, bested the school record of 12.39, which had stood since 2009.
Danielle excelled in the field, recording wins in both the triple jump and long jump.
The twins teamed up with teammates Kelley Johnson and Shannell Thompson to record wins in the 4×200-meter relay and the 4×100-meter relay, giving the Dempses four victories each on the day.
Johnson also had two individual wins, starring on the hurdles with wins in the 100 and 300.
“Kelley Johnson has done very well in the hurdles all year, and she just keeps improving,” Smith said.
The girls team is rapidly improving each week, Smith said, and despite some early injuries to the distance side, he expects to send more girls to state than they did last year.
“The sprint side is really picking up the slack,” he said. “I think the numbers will be higher this year for them, and then you just never know what’s going to happen when you get to that point.”
With exactly a month until the state competition, Smith said keeping his team healthy would be one of the key factors in its development.
“There are some really talented girls that are doing an awful lot of events, which is kind of what gets you lots of points in state, if you can keep them healthy to that point in the season,” he said.
After seeing some of its top athletes graduate, 2014 has been a bit of a struggle for the Liberty boys team, Smith said. In fact, the April 24 win over Interlake represented its first of the year.
“We don’t have the dominant sprinters like we had with Josh Gordon and Alex Olobia,” he said. “Without that one really superb athlete leading the way, scoring points on multiple events, it’s really hard.”
Three-sport star Romney Noel, who recorded three wins against Interlake, has been one of the team’s bright spots, Smith said.
Noel won both the 100 and 300 hurdles, and was part of the first place 4×400-meter relay, along with Ashby Brown, Nick Klatt and Nate Solly.
“He’s done extremely well. He’s like his brother, so talented, and it’s just a matter of picking his events,” Smith said. “Really, anything he chose to do, he’d probably be one of our best in that event, and right now, hurdles is such a technical thing, he’s really been working hard on that.”
Senior Aaron Bowe is bringing his successful cross-country season to the track, Smith said, showing marked improvement over last year. Bowe won the 1,600 with a time of 4:25.3.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing how he does at state,” Smith said. “I think he’s going to do well.”
While the boys likely won’t qualify as many athletes to state this year, Smith said he’s still encouraged by the team’s effort.
“We just don’t have that really fast superstar that we’ve been really lucky with in the past,” Smith said, “but the kids are showing up every day and a lot of them are improving.”