|From left, members of Lancaster High School’s new indoor track team are assistant coach Justin Stewart, Sean Jones, Mary Frere, Tanner Steensma, Patrick Kelly, Vilesha Waller, Ronnie Cutler and coach Jim Timm. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
"In the snow and the cold, in the rain and the wind, they were on the track or the trails," said coach Jim Timm. "No matter what the weather was, they were practicing. They were a very dedicated group."
In its inaugural season, the Red Devils track team of four boys and two girls competed in three meets, including the Group 1A/2A state meet two weeks ago at Liberty University. Without the luxury of indoor track facilities, practicing on the cross country trail or the outdoor track was often a challenge, said Timm. But the group braved the cold temperatures and frequent snowstorms this winter without breaking a stride.
The team competed at the Boo Williams MLK Invitational in Hampton on January 20, where five runners qualified for the Region 1A East meet. Senior Ronnie Cutler, junior Sean Jones and sophomores Tanner Steensma and Patrick Kelly placed second in the region in the boys 4X800-meter to qualify for state and were only seven seconds off the school's outdoor 4X800 relay record time.
Cutler also qualified for the state meet in the 3,200-meter run but didn't run because of an injury.
In the girls events, freshman Mary Frere finished fifth in the region in the two-mile run to qualify for state and ran a 12:36 race to finish third in the state in the 3,200. She beat the LHS outdoor two-mile time by 14 seconds.
Freshman Vilesha Waller was the sixth member of the team. Also a distance runner, Waller competed in the two-mile and the 1,000-meter run.
"These kids went from cross country straight into pushing for an indoor track season," said Timm. The program was approved in the fall of 2013.
"We were hoping to compete in three or four invitationals but only got to do the one before region," said Timm.
Indoor track and field meets include distance, hurdles, sprints, jumping and throwing events, he said.
"You can have a whole team and that's what we're hoping for next year, to grow and develop this program," added Timm.
Timm was assisted by LHS graduate and distance runner Justin Stewart.
Other area Group A schools with indoor track and field programs include Northumberland and Mathews.