MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon High School girls track team continues to grow in size and depth as they take aim at an OCC title in the 2011 track season.
“We have 63 girls on the team this year,” said Mount Vernon girls coach Pat Gray. “This is my largest team ever. There is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm with the girls this year. We are deep in the distance events with lots of young talent in the sprints and field events. Our goals for the season are to win the Yellow Jacket Relays, win the OCC, finish top eight at districts and qualify as many athletes to the regional and state meet as possible.”
With one of the largest teams in the OCC, Gray knows that he has his best shot yet at a conference title.
“We always finish second or third since I’ve been here,” said Gray, whose program has grown from 25 girls a few years ago. “New Albany, Watkins and us. It seems to be the three of us at the top of the conference every year. We need to score more of those fifth and sixth places to put us over the top. We get a lot of those conference champions and girls that finish in the top three. Now that we have more girls we can get those extra points because they stack up and it can be enough to win a championship.”
There’s plenty of proven talent on this squad.
“We also have Celia Leonard coming back,” said Gray. “She went to State in the 1,600.” She will join her sister, Zoe Leonard, along with Noella Nishura, to reform most of the 4x800 team that was seventh in the Regionals.
Even with the departure of graduating seniors Sarah Baker, Brittany Shelhorn, Tate Devlin and Katie Merriless, the Yellow Jackets will have plenty of reasons to look forward to the 2011 season.
“In the distances we lost Sarah, but we’ve got everybody else coming back,” said Gray. “We have a large freshman class with 20 girls. We also have some sophomores and juniors coming out for the first time this year. We are looking for them to step up and score points and perform well this spring. Key contributors include distance runners Anne Baldwin, Aubrey Wiest and Saige Devlin. Newcomer Mary Egan will heave the shot put, Sierra Silverwood will run hurdles and Sutton Black will run sprints.”