Large group, new coach to help girls track


Elias Podber

Sophomore and captain Ameah Richardson receives the baton from sophomore Kendall Jones in the 4x100m relay at the Grady Opener on Feb. 26. “It felt really good to be named captain this year, and I really hope that I can meet the expectations of the team and bring us together more as a family than a team,” Richardson said.

Elias Podber, Sports Managing Editor

The girls track team has nearly doubled in size this year, and the team will rely on all members to be successful this season. First-year head coach Josh Washington thinks the numbers will lead to improvement.

“We’re going to do much better this year,” Washington said. “Last year we had a very small team, but they were still able to win a lot of track meets. I’m expecting us to do very well at the track meets this year.”

While the team  has size, it is relatively young and Washington thinks experience will play a role in the Lady Knights’ success.

“When we talk about track and field, experience plays a big part, and right now, I would just say the experience factor is not on our side,” Washington said.

With the size of the team, there are multiple coaches who help Washington delegate responsibilities.

“Fortunately, we have a lot of good coaches out here, so I don’t have to do all the work,” Washington said. “Together, we can really gauge the talents and see who is capable of running what.”

Washington has been coaching for five years, all at Grady, and has a USA Track & Field Level 1 coaching certification. In his first year as head coach, Washington highlights his connection to Grady as one of the reasons his passion for coaching stays strong.

“One of the things I love about coaching is the fact that I get to give back and make a difference to my alumni, because I actually graduated from Grady [in] 2007,” Washington said.

The size of the team reflects the growing interest in girls track, as more girls often leads to more success.

“The team this year — I really like how everybody’s in an event this year, compared to last year where it was only like five of us running,” sophomore and co-captain Ameah Richardson said. “I feel as though we can make it really far as a team because everybody’s working really hard this year.”

Despite only being an underclassmen, Richardson has already broken two school records, in the sprint medley and the 4x200m relays, and she wants to break even more.

“I think I did pretty well last year considering I was a freshman,” Richardson said. “This year my plans are to make it to state and break multiple school records.”

Richardson’s events are the 400m, 200m, 100m hurdles, and she also participates in both the 4x100m and 4x400m relay events. Her skills on the track and her leadership qualities including “building people up” resulted in her being named co-captain as a sophomore.

“We also have Ameah Richardson, who is a sophomore, but she has demonstrated incredible leadership ability since she’s been out here,” Washington said.

Running since age 3, Richardson looks forward to being a leader this season.

“It felt really good to be named captain this year, and I really hope that I can meet the expectations of the team and bring us together more as a family than a team,” Richardson said.

Joining Richardson is senior co-captain Tehya Burton, whose versatility in events helps her contribute points to the team. Burton competes in the 100m and 200m events as well as the long jump and both the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. Burton wants to set personal records in all her events and is excited to lead the team in her fourth and final track season at Grady.

“To be captain, I feel like it just means to like help your team if they’re feeling down, guide them the right way, and I just want to be a great leader to everybody and be like a support for everyone,” Burton said.

The girls team lost senior Mutnodjmet Debnam who was named Region 6AAAAA Female Field Events Athlete of the Year for 2018. Because of her absence, Washington needs everyone on the team to contribute.

“I’m looking for strong performances from everybody,” Washington said. “Now that I’m head coach, if you’re part of this team, I’m expecting you to make a difference, and I expect you to contribute to the amount of points that we can score.”

The girls track team is going to use underclassmen leadership, its size and versatility to its advantage in accomplishing the goals set by staff and athletes.

“My goal would be to win the city meet and also to have a strong showing at the regional meet,” Washington said. “We have a great group of girls this year.”