PRUNTYTOWN—While the track teams at Grafton High School are preparing for their 2020 campaign, 65 runners are aiming to make the 2020 season yet another great one for the Taylor County Middle School Knights.
The team consists of boys and girls from sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and they continue to build strength in many areas of the sport. Both distance runners and sprinters are coming on strong this season, as well as other members of the Knights’ squad who participate in various events.
Head coach Olivia Shaw is back for her second season at the helm, and Shaw is no stranger to the sport of track and field.
A 1995 graduate of Grafton High School, Shaw participated in three state track meets during her time on the GHS track team. She also assisted the team in three Big 10 Conference wins.
She began her coaching career four years ago as a volunteer assistant coach under GHS girls’ head coach Becky Lake, and prior to coaching, she spent approximately 10 years training for and participating in various races.
She has completed many 5k-15k races as well as four half-marathons and one full marathon. She has previously participated in the Spartan run and brings an abundance of training and fitness knowledge to her team.
Cari Moats, an assistant coach for the GHS cross-county team, assists Shaw in training the distance runners on the team.
“We have several exceptional distance runners,” said Shaw about her talented squad. “Several of our male and female distance runners are strong in the 1600 and 800. We will also have two strong 4 x 800 relay teams this year. The team has several first-year sprinters who are also showing promise, as well as many returning sprinters who are a great asset to the team. We will continue to have a strong group of sprinters in the 4 x 100 and 2 x 200 relays. We also have some returning hurdlers who will be promising contenders this season.”
Also assisting Shaw will be TCMS assistant coach Ralph Lambert, who leads a standout group of discus throwers and shot throwers.
“Several of our throwers hit personal bests last season and are looking towards an even better season this year,” Shaw added. “The team also has several long jumpers, and we are working on adding some high jumpers to the mix this year.”
Coach Shaw also went on to talk about the benefit of having a cross-country team at the middle school and how it plays into her overall coaching philosophy and strategies.
“I strongly believe that our middle school running programs build upon one another,” she explained. “Athletes that participate in cross country in the fall enter the spring track season as strong, conditioned runners. These runners hone their skills on the middle school level, and then carry these skills over into the high school cross country and track programs. I have been privileged to work with the coaches in each of these programs. Track was my passion in high school, and I want nothing more than to see these programs continue to grow in the future. Getting to play a role in that allows me to give back to a program that gave me a lifelong passion for the sport and fitness in my own life.”
Looking ahead to this season, the message that Shaw wants to deliver about her team is clear.
“Last season, our team continued to crush personal records at each meet. I expect nothing less this season,” she expressed.
The Knights and Lady Knights will begin their season on March 27-28 in the “Connect Bridgeport Invitational” at Bridgeport High School, tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:00pm.