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Freshmen expected to impact girls track team

Freshman+sprinters+%28left+to+right%29+Kendall+Green%2C+MeKenze+Kelley%2C+Erin+Boone+and+Ameah+Richardson+open+their+high+school+track+careers+with+12x100+meter+sprints+with+a+minutes+rest+on+the+first+day+of+practice+on+Jan.+22%2C+2018.
Freshman sprinters (left to right) Kendall Green, MeKenze Kelley, Erin Boone and Ameah Richardson open their high school track careers with 12x100 meter sprints with a minutes rest on the first day of practice on Jan. 22, 2018.

Freshman sprinters (left to right) Kendall Green, MeKenze Kelley, Erin Boone and Ameah Richardson open their high school track careers with 12x100 meter sprints with a minutes rest on the first day of practice on Jan. 22, 2018.

Ogeuchi Ugwuh

Ogeuchi Ugwuh

Freshman sprinters (left to right) Kendall Green, MeKenze Kelley, Erin Boone and Ameah Richardson open their high school track careers with 12x100 meter sprints with a minutes rest on the first day of practice on Jan. 22, 2018.

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By Elias Podber

The girls’ track team has undergone many changes since last year, including the addition of  a new head coach and welcoming an impactful freshman class.  

“I’m looking to have a bigger, better group of girls,” new coach John Lambert said. “[I’m looking to] build the program, hopefully, like I did the boys’ cross country.”

Lambert coached the boys’ cross country team to first place finishes at both the city meet and the region meet, while finishing fifth at state in Class 5A.

Along with a new coach, the freshman class of runners is one of the strongest in years, with some, including Mekenze Kelley and Kendall Green, running at large competitions like the Junior Olympics. Kelley, with personal bests of 56.35 in the 400 meters, 24.88 in the 200 meters and 12.50 in the 100 meters, finished 8th at at the USA Track & Field National Junior Olympics Championships last summer in the 400.

“[Having freshman runners that are experienced is] a plus, but I’m going to have to move them around,” Lambert said. “They’re going to be running events that they haven’t run before, to kind of spread them around so that we can score more points, and hopefully be a threat at state.”

The freshman class is making noise as one that will eventually lead Grady to win state in two years, according to Lambert.

Green, one of those freshman, has one competition, in particular, on her resume that proves her unique among most runners.

“I was a semifinalist at the Junior Olympic Games,” Green said. “It was in Jacksonville, Florida, and it was really competitive; it showed me new things that I hadn’t seen before.”

Green also runs the 400 meters and 200 meters, and wants to “improve in both of them.” Along with the Junior Olympics, Green has also run at the Georgia Games, a smaller-scale type of meet.

Green said she would not call the competitions she had run in “that big” even with the Junior Olympics. Green works hard at practices, but also with the help of some natural talent.

“I have not been running [for] a long time,” Green said.

Lambert introduced a new aspect to the girls’ track team just a few days into the season, setting goals that he expects of the runners to help them along in their training.

“He definitely has goals already set, which is different from what we had last year,” Walden Jones, a senior distance runner said. “I guess the guys [cross country] did a lot better with [Lambert].”

Jones runs the 3200 meter and 1600 meter events, and knows improvement is coming. She aims to use her previous running experience and success in cross country to help her through this season.

“It’s only my second [track] season, but definitely just going to take what I learned last year [and use it this year],” said Jones, who barely missed qualifying for the state meet last year, finishing 9th in the sectional meet. 

The team also returns Mutnodjmet Debnam, state champion in the pole vault and Colleen Griffin, who competed in the 800 and pole vault in last year’s state meet.

Although the freshman class is making an impact, Lambert admits the girls’ program has not been quite like the boys’ program.

“It’s going to be tough, starting out,” Lambert said. “The girls have been a step behind the boys in terms of training and staying focused.”

Although it will be difficult, Lambert believes he knows how to get the girls’ track program up to standards.

“I’m really looking to turn that around,” Lambert said.

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One Response to “Freshmen expected to impact girls track team”

  1. Felicia Kelley on February 4th, 2018 11:32 am

    https://youtu.be/n3IQmBesscM
    2018 Vanderbilt University High School Indoor Meet
    4th Overall – Freshman MeKenze Kelley

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