Numbers provide added strength for Casey girls

April 18, 2004|MIKE MARSEE

LIBERTY - They surprised even themselves last season, but there are no surprises now.

The seniors who lead the Casey County girls track and field team are facing higher expectations on the heels of the team's best state meet showing ever, but they're looking forward to the challenge of equaling or exceeding last year's performance.

"We don't really know the strengths of the other teams, but I think we're stronger," said Rita Dixon, one of the team's four seniors.

Their strength may lie in numbers, as in:

* A number of talented seniors who can be counted on to provide both leadership and plenty of points.

* A large number of runners on the roster that could help Casey take more runners to state than the seven who made the trip last year.


The combination of those things could add up to another memorable season for the Casey girls, who finished in third place in last year's Class AA meet.

"I didn't realize how good we did until the meet was over," senior Jessica Pierce said.

Took only seven girls to state meet

That's because they took only seven girls to the meet, far fewer than most of the teams at the top of the standings.

"It was kind of a shock to me," Jessica Propes said. "We didn't even bring half as many as anybody else."

But the seven girls who made the trip scored points for Casey in all 10 events in which they were entered.

"I had picked us out to be maybe fifth and then we had a great first day," Casey coach Barry Lee said.

"I think they were shocked, but all we lacked is confidence. Casey's always had the talent; it's having the confidence to know they can compete at that level."

They know it now - all but one of the seven have returned this season. Casey finished first in two smaller meets last week, and its season began in earnest Saturday with the Lake Cumberland Invitational at Somerset.

"I think everybody is expecting a lot, and it's hard right now at the beginning of the season," Dixon said.

Task made tougher by construction at home track

Their task has been made tougher by construction at their home track. The track has been resurfaced, but the lanes haven't yet been marked and the landing pads for the pole vault and high jump areas hadn't even been brought out of storage as of midweek.

"I was afraid with the track not being fixed, it would bring morale down a little bit, but really isn't hasn't," Lee said.

The senior girls said the enthusiasm of Lee, who is in his second year as Casey's coach, is one reason why they're having so much fun.

"He gets more excited than we do," Propes said.

"I was running all over the track, seeing every jump, every throw, every run. Then I realized I was the only coach doing that," Lee said with a laugh. "But I think it helps the kids. If they see that I'm excited, they're excited about it."

Girls as far down as the seventh grade are expected to contribute at the varsity level, and a veritable horde of middle school runners even includes a first-grader.

The older girls are glad to see such promise in the program, and they're already trying to recruit replacements in their respective events.

"I've been trying all year to recruit throwers," Pierce said.

But they also want to make sure their last year is as successful as possible.

"It's my senior year," Propes said. "This is my year."

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