By Stephen Henderson
The remainder of Patrick County High School’s spring sports are introduced this week.
Lady Cougar soccer
Coach Sandra Rakes is back at the helm of the Patrick County High School Lady Cougar soccer team after taking a year off. She is impressed with the drive that she has seen after the first week of practice.
“They are eager to play and it shows in the way they are working,” she said. “They are becoming accustomed to working with each other.”
With 16 varsity players, including six seniors, eight juniors and two sophomores, Rakes is unsure who will be the one to take a leadership role or be a star player. “It’s hard to tell who will be the outstanding player this early,” she said.
One thing Rakes stresses each day is players’ skills. “We work on improving those skills throughout the season. I want to see these girls develop into a team that can work together and play for each other,” she stated.
The Lady Cougars split practice locations with the boys’ team between Rotary Field and the PCHS practice field in the back of the school.
“I think we’re going to have a good season this year. We have some tough teams to face, but I think we may just surprise them,” Rakes said.
Twelve players make up the junior varsity team that includes two sophomores, seven freshmen and three sub-freshmen.
The first scrimmage was at home against Floyd yesterday (Tuesday); the Lady Cougars compete in the Bengal Bash Jamboree at Smith River Sports Complex Saturday, March 12. The first regular season home game is against George Washington of Danville on Thursday, March 17.
Rakes is assisted by Houstan Boles and Brittany Joyce; Chelsea Hardy is the JV head coach.
Boys’ tennis looking forward
Coach Andrew Terry says that his boys’ tennis team is looking forward to getting back into action, but they also hoping for warmer weather soon so that there may be some consistency in the team’s practice schedule!
Terry has nine players on this year’s team, including six returning from last year.
“We have two really solid players that did not get to compete last year as eighth graders,” he said. “Frankie LaComa and Garrett Worley really developed last year throughout the season and hopefully that will continue this season. They will be our two strongest players,” Terry said. “We also have four other returners who have all improved since last year,” he said.
The team is looking to compete with teams in the district this season and continue to get better throughout the year.
“The first week of the season has showed several areas we need to improve—primarily in ball placement and consistency, but the guys have looked good for the first week having not been able to be on the courts much,” Terry said.
Terry has set two primary goals for the season. They are: 1) Get better at understanding the game and becoming consistent ball strikers. “We beat ourselves more last year than them beating us in matches,” he said. 2) Win and compete in matches with everyone in the district and our conference. “We play in one of the toughest conferences in the state when it comes to tennis. We hope that level of competition will help us to improve and understand where we need to be to compete at the highest level,” he said.
Patrick County’s first scrimmage is Thursday at Ferrum College vs Franklin County High School. The first official match of the season will be Tuesday, March 15, at Halifax.
“Our guys have really been excited about getting back out on the courts. They love to play and compete, so this season will be a lot of fun,” he said. “We will work and play hard and get better as the season goes on. I think we will surprise people with how impressive we may become as a team this year,” he concluded.
Cougar track is anxious
for the season
Danel Slaydon and the Patrick County High School track team coaching staff is excited about the athletic ability and coachability this group of athletes has shown during the first week of track practice. “They work well together as a team and enjoying pushing themselves as a whole group,” he said.
Both the boys’ and girls’ teams consist of 17 members each. On the girls’ side, there are two seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores, five freshmen and one middle school member. For the boys’ there are three seniors, one junior, four sophomores, six freshmen and three middle schoolers.
A number of impressive athletes return this season. Autumn Hubbard, as a freshman, finished ninth in the state meet last year in the 400-meter dash with a season best time of 1:02.17. Macie Rogers ran a 5:32 mile to win the Roanoke Valley Area Championships Junior Division. Emma Hubbard, Lexy Carico, and AK Scruggs all narrowly missed the state championships last season.
“We look for these ladies to qualify for the state finals this year and fight for All-State honors,” Slaydon said.
Shane Spencer was last year’s Conference 32 thrower of the year, leading the way for the boys throwing 142’ 10” in the discus last season. ”His main mission is to erase his throwing coach Winfred Hill’s 155’ school record this season and finish on the All-State podium,” Slaydon said.
Ethan Gilbert and Juan Cisneros led the way on the boys’ distance front, both running a 4:45 mile time. “We look for Gilbert and Cisneros to have a breakout season and to steadily improve as the season progresses,” he said.
Other outstanding competitors include Amber Triplett and Jacob Kisamore.
According to Slaydon, the goal for the season is simple: Focus on the process of getting better. “If we as a coaching staff can impress upon our group that success is making the appropriate decisions many times throughout each day, we are going to have an excellent season,” he explained. Slaydon and his coaches have high hopes for this season. “We would like to end the season with a strong showing during the Championships section,” he said. “For our team, this means having multiple All-Conference, All-Region, and All-State performers.
“Our ninth and tenth grade girls also want to have an impressive showing at this year’s Roanoke Valley Area Championships Meet. Last season the girls’ team finished in the runner-up position; that is something we feel we can improve upon this season,” he said.
Slaydon is assisted by Justin Adams (middle distance/sprints), RJ Scott (throws/sprints/jumps), Winfred Hill (throws), Kali Slaydon (distance) and Johnny Miller (weights).
The Cougar track teams compete in the Mighty Viking Invitational at North Stokes High School March 19. The first middle school home meet is March 17, and the first PCHS home meet is March 23.