IMBLER GIRLS TRACK TEAM DETERMINED TO BRING HOME THE HARDWARE
By Raenelle Kwock
Observer Staff Writer
A pop can.
This item means a lot to the Imbler girls track team.
Senior Tiffany Rasmussen explains former track coach Jeff Larson told them to save their best for the district and state meets last year.
"Don't shake the can till district," Rasmussen recalls Larson telling them. "Then, open it up."
When things get a little tough or they need a kick in the seat of the pants, the Panthers remember the pop can and refocus on the task at hand.
Rasmussen has the top local area best in the javelin (127 feet, 1 inch) discus (119-4) and 100-meter hurdles (17.68 seconds).
That javelin result is the state best in 1A/2A so far. She is also running the 800, 4x400 relay and triple jumping.
The Panthers were named the No. 1 team in the 2003 edition of Who's Who in Oregon Track and Field at the 2A level. Larson was named women's coach of the year. Larson is coaching at Nyssa High School.
The 2003 edition covers the 2002 track season and the 2003 cross country season.
Junior Penny Cline said the Panthers would not have been No. 1 without Larson.
She said people may find it odd that a small school has a No. 1 ranking, but the team did well last year and are really good this year.
Cline is running the 200, 100 and working on pole vaulting.
It's no secret that the team goal is to be No. 1 at the district and state level. The district meet is in Nyssa May 16. The state meet is May 23-24 at Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
"I think we're working our way up to it peaking," Rasmussen said.
Senior Amy Clerget agrees.
"We want to peak at state," she said.
The girls have won three straight district titles.
Clerget has the top local area best time in the 300-meter hurdles (49.25). Her time is first in the state so far at the 1A/2A level.
Senior Rachel Lowe said she and Clerget are "twins." Lowe said she's the second-place 300 hurdler.
Clerget is also on the 4x400 and 4x100 relays, plus long jumping.
Lowe does mostly all the events Clerget does.
Senior Liz Woody said the Panther workouts are preparing them to peak at a certain time.
"I think we're not focused on winning," she said as each meet helps them prepare for district and state competition.
Woody is running the 400; 800; 1,500; 4x400 relay; and 4x100 relay.
Clerget said the Panthers are training for district and state and have utilized good practice techniques to help them get there.
She said there are so many Panthers that can get two or three points in different events, so there's no pressure on one individual. She added that's the best part about being a team.
Another reason for their success is the girls' bond with each other.
"We're really close," Rasmussen said. "We laugh a lot. We have a good time."
Lowe said the goal is to win state as a team.
"We may be small, but we are mighty," she said, adding that the team wants the hardware (trophies).
Woody said the girls all encourage each other to do the best they can even if they make mistakes during relay or individual events.
The Panthers do the "Hokey Pokey" before relays to calm their jitters.
"We're serious when it comes to crunch time," Rasmussen said.
Woody said their coaches have been good to them and that's resulted in success.
Cline said if they are ever hurt, the coaches take care of them.
Such a blast
Lowe said coach Nancy White gave them eggs for Easter because they were "egg-cellent" and they were "egg-static" for them.
"I love these guys," Lowe said drawing awes and a couple tears from her teammates.
"I think they are the best to work with."
She explained they are such good friends and encourage each other in all of their events.
Woody is the inspirational one of the group. Cline said she talks to everyone on the team and inspires them to do their best. She even gives everyone water.
Junior Hannah Hall said the mental toughness has made the Panthers successful. Hall runs the relays and does a couple other events.
Missing is sophomore Kaylee Noyes, who is out with an injury.
The camaraderie of the team can be seen in the names the girls call each other.
The next time you see the Panthers at a track meet, you can cheer on "Jo" (Hall), "Crazy A" (Clerget), "R-Lo" (Lowe), "Change" (Cline), "Xena Warrior Princess" (Rasmussen), and "Woody" Woody.