Seniors help track team earn second at district, first in area

The runners get set in the blocks and await the sound of the starter’s pistol. BANG. Athletes explode off the line as they look toward the finish. Seniors Miranda Golden and Charnell Gibson advanced to area to help the team win the area championship. While Gibson focuses on the shot put event, Miranda participates in the 4×4, 300 m hurdles, high jump, and occasionally the relays, but out of all of these, the hurdles is her favorite event.

“I enjoy hurdles because it’s something I have to push myself to do,” Miranda said. “I like to challenge myself.”

She quietly leads the team by example by always working hard no matter what people around her are doing, and her coach Jennifer Pittman sees those leadership qualities.

“When everyone else is slacking off, they see Miranda going and getting after it and they try to follow suit,” Pittman said. “She works really hard in practice all the time, and other people see that and they want to emulate that.”

Charnell also demonstrates leadership through her hard work not only at practice but also at home to condition herself to become stronger as she focuses on throwing shot put.

“I practice every day,” Charnell said. “I lift weights and do about 100 push-ups every morning, added to the mindset that I can do it all.”

The time and effort paid off when the team earned 2nd at district, just short of 1st place by 9 points, but at the end of the day, the team was proud of what they were able to accomplish.

“All in all, track is a team sport,” Pittman said. “Individual people can win a gold medal for doing this or doing that, but a team championship is a hard thing to do. I think with the kids and the numbers we have, almost beating College Station with about half as many girls is an incredible accomplishment.”

With the second-place finish at district, the team worked hard and managed to win first the area meet, something that has not been done in many years.

“It was exciting simply because we missed the district championship by nine points,” Pittman said. “I was ecstatic. Getting that area championship was so much sweeter.”

At the area meet, the team saw improvements in both the track and field events. Charnell’s throw at district was 37’12.5”, but her throw at area far exceeded it at 37’ 9”.

“I had thrown 36 feet at first and was in third place thinking there was no way I could beat the other girls,” Charnell said. “When I threw 37 feet, I didn’t know how I did it. My favorite part was looking at Coach Pittman. She had the biggest smile on her face and was so happy for me.”

Charnell’s hard work and determination earned her the area win as she looked to the older girls who graduated a few years ago and practiced shot put.

“I’ve never won area,” Charnell said. “I used to look up to Chassidy Rusk, a girl who used to throw shot put here, and she would always win, and I would always get second. At area, I finally made it.”

Chassidy’s motivation and work ethic served as a model for Charnell, and the two worked together to form a great bond.

“I admire her both in shot put and as a person,” Charnell said. “She pushed me more than I could push myself and always told me to do well in class and be respectful. Every time I saw her, she gave me the biggest hugs, and I always felt so at home when she did. She gives great advice and is such a wonderful person.”

Miranda also had girls she looked up to on the track team. As a freshman, she admired Kaitlyn Harris and Jamie Kennedy, and former coaches Coach Holder and Coach Beal also helped her improve in running.

“Kaitlyn and Jamie were fast, and I wanted to be like them,” Miranda said. “My coaches motivated me want to get on the track and run. They gave the the confidence to do it and pushed me to work harder.

Charnell is planning on joining the military and possibly continuing shot put there while Miranda plans to transfer to Sam Houston University to run track after first attending Tyler Junior College.

“Track has pushed me to go to college,” Miranda said. “Track is not only for fun, but I’m also doing all of this to get a good opportunity later in life.”

Pittman hopes the girls learned more from track than simply becoming more athletic.

“I hope they learned how to work hard, how to persevere, and how to keep fighting,” Pittman said. “It’s a life lesson. You’re not going to be the fastest person at every track meet nor are you going to be the best person in every job you try or every class. You’ve got to work hard, keep pushing, and keep going.”