Harris earning points, loving track for Harrodsburg

April 29, 2004|JILL ERWIN

HARRODSBURG - Michael Harris isn't yet halfway through his second track season, but he already loves the sport.

The Harrodsburg senior loves the competition, both his events (the shot put and discus) and the fun he has.

But most of all, Harris loves helping the Pioneers.

"It's just my second year and I'm already helping the team," Harris said. "That's pretty good."

He'll be looking to help the Pioneers in Saturday's inaugural All "A" Classic at Admiral Stadium. Thirteen teams are expected, including Burgin, Danville and Harrodsburg.

Harris, a lineman on the Harrodsburg football team, joined the track squad last year after he said football and track coach Terry Yeast made it a mandatory activity. Yeast denies making track mandatory, but said Harris was always well-equipped for the throwing events.


"I think knowing he was a strong kid and he had great feet, I felt he had the potential all along to do it," Yeast said.

Harris wasn't so sure. He admitted he never considered joining the track team before his junior year. When he came out for his first practice, he knew he would be a field guy.

"We had a choice, and I am not a runner," Harris said with a laugh. "Learning the technique has been hard."

He set a personal best Tuesday

He's doing a fine job of picking up the technique. He set a new personal best in the discus with a mark of 134 feet, 3 inches, nearly seven feet further than his previous best, Tuesday at the Jessamine County Relays.

His best effort in the shot put, a distance of 44-7, came earlier this year. That's four feet further than he threw it last year in the regional meet when he finished fourth with a mark of 40-7, his best throw of his first season.

He's added distance in large part because of his work ethic.

"Michael has really busted his tail this whole year just working out in the weight room," Yeast said. "After having a young man like Brian Bartleson that did so well, Michael knew with Brian leaving that he had to really step it up.

"He prepared extremely well and it's really, really shown in his performances. He probably hasn't been as consistent as we'd like him to be, but he's had some really, really good meets."

Another thing that helped Harris was the introduction of indoor track practice during basketball season. Assistant coach Billy Moore worked with Harris on his throws, and Yeast said there's strong evidence that the work paid dividends.

"Anytime you get more opportunities to improve yourself, I think the better chances you'll have," Yeast said.

"He didn't play basketball. That gave him even more time. Coach Moore really loves it to, so he had a chance to spend all winter working with coach Moore indoors."

He threw the shot only 34 feet at his first meet

That continued the progress Harris had already been making. His first-ever meet his junior year, he threw the shot only 34 feet. He admits he was nervous before the meet, and also said he considered quitting after that meet.

But he stuck it out, and now he's striving to improve even more.

"I never thought it was going to be fun until I got better at it," Harris said. "I wasn't any good last year until the end of the season. Last year in the region it started to come together."

Danville coach Chris Verhoven is expecting 13 schools at the All "A" Classic, including three top 10 teams on the boys side and two on the girls side.

Expected for the boys are No. 3 Danville, No. 5 Harrodsburg and No. 10 Bardstown. On the girls side, Danville is ranked second in the state in Class A and Somerset is ninth.

"We thought we'd have a competition similar to the other sports where we could get the best of the All 'A' schools," Verhoven said. "Last week, we went to Tates Creek and we're ninth and you get all down on yourself and then you look and it's like 3-A teams. It's hard to convince a kid that ninth place is really good."

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