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Dragon lady thinclads are young, coach ready to mold winners



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From left, senior Ashely Bartreau and junior Molly Emerich race against a pair of Rochester Falcons in an April 11 meet. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
April 18, 2012 - Lake Orion's girl runners are comparatively young this year, but Head Coach Sjonne Mitchell said the team's youth is actually an opportunity.

"We're pretty good this year and it's definitely a young team but I like that," said Mitchell. "I like being able to build the team up from scratch so I'm excited for that. I think it will be an improvement on last year once we get everybody on their events. We're going to see a lot more wins, but it's hard at the beginning while everyone is finding their spot on the team.

"But for now, I'm just concentrating on molding them in the right direction."

Assistant and Distance Runner Coach Debi McDonald said what she's seen of the team isn't bad. McDonald handles the longer racers, including some 400 meter(m), 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m events. While she doesn't have the numbers she usually gets on her cross country team, where she is the head coach, she believes her girls show a lot of promise.

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"A lot of girls go out for softball, lacrosse of soccer, so a lot less join up in spring and it hurts sometimes that I cannot keep all the speed from cross country," said McDonald. "We've only had one meet so it's hard to tell, but there is some strength I don't see in the other girls. I have a combination of the few strong cross country runners that joined up and some girls who only run track that are looking pretty strong."

McDonald mentioned junior Patty Babich as one of her strongest 1600m racers, junior Molly Emerich who is strong in the 800m and 3,200m relay, sophomore Casey Stribbell who decided to concentrate on distance runs this year and senior Britany Burton who is now the strongest 3,200m runner.

Mitchell noted a number of girls on the team who she believes will stand out this year including sophomore hurdler Cory Flanders who really has stepped up since last year and become much more aggressive in 2012. Senior Katie Sumner is running track for the first time after suffering an injury that prevented her from continuing her gymnastics. Still, Mitchell believes she will do well on the track team because she believes Sumner will give it all she has to become a key contributor.

Sophomore pole-vaulter Madeline Martindale practiced during the preseason and has become comfortable with her pole. In 2011 she broke a record at the end of the year but Mitchell said this year she has her eye on the prize. Sophomore Anna Dietz has found her niche in the long sprints after trying the Mile and short sprints, meaning her confidence has grown for the 2012 season.

Senior Captain Katie Grantham has stepped up as a leader. She's taking people under her win and showing them the ropes, all the while doing well in the high jump and other events. Senior Ashley Bartreau has done the same in terms of leadership and, after recently signing a letter of intent, seems to want to leave LOHS with a bang.

As for teams to watch out for, Mitchell said she's simply concentrating on her in-house performance.

"I'm really not looking out for other teams right now because since we do have a young team it's important to stay on them," said Mitchell. "It's easier when you have older girls but with the younger ones you need to give them attention so they learn and begin to understand what they're doing. I like it though, because it gives me a chance to mold them in the right direction."

The team ran and lost to Adams and Rochester last week. In their first meet today, April 18, they competed against rivals to the north against Oxford.

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