Eagles not slowed by size

Wednesday, April 27, 2022
Tegan Patterson clears a hurdle in the 110-meter race at the Hillbilly Relays in Pierce City this season. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Personal records keep coming for Purdy track

Purdy may have a small track and field team with only nine members, but the diversity of their events is making the Eagles a force at local meets.

Four sophomores, three juniors and two seniors make up the team this season, and Coach Mikayla Palmer said the season has been an exciting one.

“We have stand-out athletes in sprints, distance, throwing and jumping events,” she said. “Specifically, two athletes, Bryce Ozbun and Jake Young, have been excelling at their distance events.”

Ozbun has set multiple personal records this season in the 1600- and 3200-meter runs, and Young did the same in the 1600 and long jump.

“Bryce has accomplished so far this season and are expectant of what is to come,” Palmer said. “Jake shows natural athleticism and is a self-starter. It has been exciting to watch him grow as an athlete and find success in a variety of events.”

A pair of strong throwers bolster the Eagles’ roster.

“We are lucky to have two talented throwers on the team: Esdras Juarez and Elijah Webb,” Palmer said. “Each athlete left off the spring 2021 season on a strong note, and they have been putting in much effort to match, and ultimately exceed their past season’s scores. Webb shows particular skill. He left off the previous season with a seventh-place ranking of 32.88 meters at sectionals in discus, and he has been focusing on surpassing his personal best in both discus and shot put this season.

“Both boys have a strong work ethic and have shown great sportsmanship in working with often-limited resources in regard to throwing. I am incredibly proud of the time and effort they continue to give to their events, and ultimately, our team.”

Palmer said the team itself, though small, manages to have a powerful chemistry.

“While much of track and field meets involve individual events, our team has not struggled to bond or work well together as a whole,” Palmer said. “This is a fun thing about the sport — an athlete’s performance benefits the greater team yet is their own at the end of the day. This rings especially true in our relay team. We have developed a 4x100 meter relay team of Lucky Periman, Jake Young, Preston Hibbard and Weston Ellision. While working with limited resources, as Purdy does not have a track, these boys have been impressive in their ability to form a strong relay team.

“It takes a great deal of communication and practice to establish effective relay handoffs, and these boys have taken on the challenge while maintaining positive attitudes. It has been especially rewarding watching our seniors demonstrate positive leadership within the team. Specifically, Weston has not only presented himself as a strong and experienced athlete, but uses his experience to help teach his teammates and rally the team overall.”

Palmer said as the season heads toward the end, she hopes her athletes continue to set personal records, but also grow outside of competition.

“While it is great and important to achieve success in the form of medals and PRs, my ultimate goal is for each athlete to finish out their season with a feeling of, ‘I spent my time earnestly working as hard as I could, and look at how far I’ve come,’ or ‘I tried something new this year, and I learned more about myself and am a better athlete, teammate, friend and student because of it.’ I hope these athletes see the benefit of putting their mind to something and seeing it to fruition. 

“I believe a lot about high school athletics is learning to show up. You don’t get to a new PR without showing up. We show up to the cold and windy days of practice, to the early mornings of cold and windy and dark days of practice, to the practices where we don’t feel our best, and to the practices where we know we are going to work hard. I think there are many lessons to be learned in the midst of just showing up. A new PR or a medal is just a visible form of that.”

In her first year with the program, Palmer said she has been impressed by and blessed to have the group she does.

“They are aware that this is my first time in this position, and they have given me a great amount of grace as I learn alongside them,” she said. “This is a group of serious athletes who have overcome obstacles associated with working with limited resources, such as a lack of rack and field facilities. I have seen Preston Hibbard consistently challenge his personal bests and lead his teammates daily at our practices. Preston shows both athleticism and is a model of positive sportsmanship.

“I have also observed Lucky Periman make great strides in his performance as an athlete relatively new to the sport; his teachable and positive attitude sets him up for success. Additionally, I have been proud to see our dual baseball athletes excel at their particular events. Tegan Patterson started off the season with a 20.11 on the 110 meters. His self-motivation pays off in his ability to attend our meets in the midst of a busy sports season and still excel at his event. Jeremiah Williams has also shown himself to be a strong athlete. He has shown potential in the 800 meter run and long jump.”

Palmer also mentioned the team’s manager, Anna Hoffman, as a great asset to the team.

“Anna has graciously volunteered much of her time to assist the team this season, and myself and athletes have benefitted from her help in taking times and assisting to needs at practice and meets,” Palmer said. “She is absolutely a positive addition to our team, and I am grateful for her help.”

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