The regular Monday morning assembly at Heathwood Hall was not so regular this week.
On Saturday, the Heathwood Hall girls track team won the SCISA Class 3A state championship, edging Hammond by five points. Heathwood Hall, which last won a title in 2005, was lifted by first-place performances from Emily Carson, Arayael Brandner and Carey Roth in individual events.
Coach Willis Waretalked to The State about a championship three years in the making.
GOING INTO THE STATE MEET, DID YOU THINK YOU HAD A SHOT AT THE TITLE?
“I thought we had a very good chance of winning based on the fact that we had most of our point winners returning from last season. Also, the girls had worked very hard. ... They responded extremely well to the challenges that they have been given in workouts and what-not. The experience has reinforced the notion that you can have talent, but you cannot make the most of it without hard work.”
AT WHAT POINT WERE YOU CONFIDENT YOU WOULD WIN?
“We started off great by winning the shot put and the discus. ... We got off to a very, very strong start but it really wasn’t until after the 200 (meters) that I knew we had it wrapped up, no matter what happened in the last event.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE COMPETING, BUT KNOWING YOU HAD ALREADY WON?
“It was such a relief. The girls knew throughout the meet that we stood a very good chance at winning, so they were asking every event how we were doing, how many points we had and by the last race they were relieved, too.”
HOW DID YOU HANDLE THEIR QUESTIONS ALL DAY?
“We were in first after the first three or four events, so I did tell them that, but that was all I would tell them because I didn’t want them to let up... I wouldn’t give them the scores, the exact standings, that what I used to keep them motivated.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE CELEBRATING WITH THIS GROUP, SINCE NOT MANY MEMBERS WERE ON THE LAST CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM?
“There are just two runners — our two senior captains Anne Herlong and Francis Ellerbe — were the only ones who had been on the team when we won our last championship (three) years ago. I was extremely happy for them to come in as freshman to a state championship and then to go out as champions as well....I was extremely happy for all the kids to achieve the success they have.”
WHO HAVE BEEN THE LEADERS FOR YOUR TEAM DURING THIS CHAMPIONSHIP PUSH?
“The big motivator on our team has been Anne Herlong. She was one who would keep everyone up, who would give the other girls encouragement or whatever they would need. As far as performance, Carey Roth, Arayael Brandner, Emily Carson, they’ve all done really well for us. Carey it turns out was the points winner for us with 28 points in the state championship and she is just in the eighth grade. Arayael Brandner has gone undefeated in the shotput and discus this season and has set a tremendous example.”
SO WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON NEXT YEAR?
“I think we should be in contention next year. We’re losing two top seniors and they’ll be hard to replace but I think we will still be competitive next year.”