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East Clarendon High School
Turbeville

East Clarendon cross-country making great strides

By C.R. Cumbee

Staff Writer

Turbeville—The East Clarendon athletic department added girls’ and boys’ cross-country to its fall sports offerings a year ago, and as expected, there were struggles along the way. This season, head coach Season Johnson and her husband Tracy have seen some of the hard work pay off as both teams have shown massive improvement.

The Lady Wolverines have seen participation levels skyrocket in 2017 after barely having enough girls to compete at meets.

“Last year we were worried about having a team. You have to have a certain number of runners to compete, so we were worried about having enough,” Johnson said. “They’ve all improved their times by a couple minutes.”

Leading the way this season is seventh-grader Jordan Smith, who runs like a veteran while only getting started in the sport.

“She has been a surprise. She’s a transfer student that is in her first year running, and she goes 90 miles an hour. She has a great stride. She’s long and stretched out when she runs. She’s done well,” Johnson said.

Another one of the top competitors is Hope Azurdia, who is only in the eighth grade.

“Hope is new to the team this year, but she’s played other sports as well. She’s very athletic,” Johnson said.

Sophomores Sarah Harrington and Ida Green are also trying to make their marks while freshman Alyzabeth Floyd and sophomore Tristan Azurdia are looking to catch that top group.

With so much youth, the future is bright for the Lady Wolverines.

“They have the talent to go to state and do well if they continue to move forward. Last year the girls went to the state qualifier but did not make it to state. We didn’t expect them to since it was their first year, but we’re building this program and it’s exciting to see them improve,” Johnson said.

The East Clarendon boys’ team enters the year with high expectations after competing in the Class A state championship meet in 2016. They were also second in the region.

“They went straight to state last year and finished ninth out of 13 teams. We were happy about that. We’ve got some football players, basketball players and track runners so we were pleased with that,” Johnson said. “I think they’re motivated and want to see an improvement. Ninth won’t be good enough this year. I’m just trying to encourage them now that they’ve got a year under their belts.”

The Wolverines are an older group compared to their female counterparts, with senior Jordan Brown being one of the leaders of the team.

“He has definitely been a leader. Anything I ask, he does. When it’s time to circle up and warm up, he goes through the stretches with everyone. He’s been very helpful,” Johnson said.

Daniel Johnson, the coaches’ son, is another senior, while Slate Green and Matthew Floyd are juniors.

The most impressive runner so far has been Tanner Strickland, a seventh-grader who has already broken the 20-minute mark at the finish line.

“He’s been a big addition. He also goes 90 miles an hour and doesn’t stop. He finished the last meet at 19:46, which was fourth overall, against juniors and seniors,” Johnson said.

Eighth-grader Kohl Gaymon and freshman Landon Strickland are the other key members of the team.

East Clarendon has already accomplished a lot this year, including having its first-ever home meet against three other schools. They continue their season Oct. 10 at South Florence before heading to Green Sea-Floyds for the conference meet Oct. 18.

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