ACS track team made great strides

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By John Bernhardt
As he evaluated the track season , Andes coach Jeff Rhone uses generic indicators to gauge his team’s progress, markers that say as much about who you are and how you perform off the track as on it.

“We’ve taken a big step forward this spring,” Rhone explained. “When it comes to work ethic and commitment, these kids are making giant strides.”

At the start of the season, Rhone was impressed with a big track turnout. As the season rounds its final turn and heads down the homestretch, he is impressed that those numbers have held, that everyone has stuck around and is working to get better.

Rhone attributes part of the commitment to his two senior captains, Josh Harp and Olivia Stokes. Both are “throwers” competing by tossing a discus. And, both are inspirational leaders, committed to their craft, athletes who lead by example.

It’s not a surprise that Harp and Stokes are two of three track stars who provisionally qualified to take part in the sectional championships. Along with Shianne Coss in the high jump, the Andes throwers are in the conversation about deciding who will compete for a sectional crown.
Harp finished first in the discus at the Eagle Games in Downsville, a track competition involving six different schools. His throw of 117 feet was a personal best. Stokes came in fifth in Downsville. Her personal best is 81 feet, six inches.

A newcomer to the world of high jumping, Coss has only jumped competitively two times in her life, but has earned scores that could see her vying for a sectional title.

Rhone directs credit to his team’s throwing success to throwing coach Adam VanValkenburg.
“Adam has done a super job,” Rhone praised. “He is always superbly prepared and has a willingness to utilize whatever resources are available. Adam is continually learning and seeks assistance from others with more experience in the field so he can keep his kids moving forward.”
Every member of the Andes track team competes against their previous best score. Inch-by-inch, step-by-step that approach results in progress. Some examples might be Torin Bacon’s efforts in the 800-meter run or Jade Litaker’s work in the triple jump.

The Andes track efforts cover the entire 7th_ through 12th-grade span. Junior high athletes compete in meets at their age and grade levels.
Recently, Winnie Richards, an eighth grader, broke a 12-year-old record at the Modified Eagle Games running a 14.1 second hundred-meter dash.