The track and field teams of Briarwood Academy are resting this week due to their annual spring break.
And it is a rest that is much needed.
Erin Wester strains to clear the bar on the high jump during a meet at Briarwood last week.
For over the past several weeks, the Lady Bucs and Buccaneers have been practicing and performing in several big track events, both at home and on the road.
Coach Clayton Parrish's Lady Buccaneer roster is comprised of 11 young ladies that range from a trio of seniors, to a pair of juniors and sophomores, to one lone freshman, and to a trio of aggressive eighth graders.
Seniors for the Lady Bucs are Melissa Newsome, Katie Reese and Beth Gerlach. Juniors are Olivia Lyons and Angela Kirkland. Sophomores are Whitney Carani and Cassie Pickrell. The lone freshman on the team is Jamie Russell. Eighth graders are Lizzie Keene, Anna Goolsby and Erin Wester.
"I have been really pleased with our team, especially with the eighth grade class," Coach Parrish said. "Everyone has been running real hard and performing well against pretty tough competition."
Senior Katie Reese is one of the leaders for the Lady Bucs this year. She participates in the discus throw, the triple jump, the 200 meter dash and several relays.
Reese is the defending state champion in the discus throw, where she owns the state record with a throw of 92 feet, 11 inches.
Joseph Batrous takes to the air on the long jump.
"This year, Katie has finished first in the discus in all our meets except for one, where she finished in second place in the Brentwood Relays a couple of weeks ago," Coach Parrish said. "She has all the ingredients to repeat as champion this year."
In the Brentwood Relays recently, the Lady Bucs finished fourth overall out of 12 teams. Reese finished second in the discus and third in the triple jump.
Wester placed in second position in the high jump with an effort of 4'10". Her best ever finish has been at the height of 5 feet even.
Goolsby finished second in the 800 meters with a time of 2 minutes, 33 seconds. She finished just behind the defending state champion.
Gerlach placed third in the shot put event with a throw of 32'9". She also participates in the triple jump, relays and 100 meter dash.
Newsome finished third in the hurdles with a time of 18.10 seconds.
Coming in fourth place in their respective events were Pickrell in the hurdles and Keene in the 400 meters with a time of 66 seconds.
Briarwood Academy was the host of a six-school track meet on Wednesday, March 29. The other teams that participated were Brentwood, Thomas Jefferson, Edmund Burke, Curtis Baptist and Westminster of Augusta.
Beth Gerlach concentrates while tossing the shot-put during the March 29 track meet.
The Lady Bucs scored 144 points in this meet to claim first place. The other scores were Brentwood 112, EBA 100, Curtis 55, TJA 35 and Westminster 15.
Grabbing first place honors for the Lady Bucs were: Reese-discus throw-82' 8-1/2", Gerlach-shot put-32' 1-1/2", Wester-highjump-4' 9", Goolsby-800 meters-2:45.75, girl's 4x100 meter relay-Briarwood's No. 2 Team-55.71 and girl's 4x400 meter relay-Briarwood's No. 1 Team-4:40.
"Our times and distances are getting better every week," Parrish said. "This is happening just in time for the region meet."
Coach Jimmy Barnett's Buccaneers are really excited about the 2006 season. He has 12 members that make up the team which includes six young athletes who are the base core of the squad.
"March Madness has finally slowed down for us at Briarwood," Barnett said. "A lot of our athletes participate in numerous events during the early part of Spring, such as baseball, golf, tennis and track. Now, they are starting to excel in only one sport and we are really just beginning to concentrate on track."
Four of these six athletes who have the ability to skyrocket Briarwood to the top of the region and state track rankings are freshmen.
"Our young kids are doing a great job for us, and many of them are the heart and the core of our team," Coach Barnett said. "These freshmen and sophomores haven't missed a practice or track meet this year."
Ben Raburn runs primarily in two events for the Bucs. He participates in the 1600 meter and the mile event, which he has finished with a time of 5 minutes, 42 seconds. He is now beginning to throw the discus, with his best effort so far being 75 feet.
"Another freshman that we are real proud of is Matthew Graziano," Coach Barnett said. "He is a good example of a success story at Briarwood. Before last year, he had never seen a discus. Now, Matthew is throwing close to 100 feet. He has worked extremely hard and has the form to become a great thrower."
Another freshman who has become one of the hardest working athletes at Briarwood this Spring is Corey Davidson. He is now running middle distances, with a concentration on the 400 meter dash.
"Corey has run the 400 meters in 63 seconds for us. He needs to get closer to 60 over the next few weeks. He is also running several relays for us," said Coach Barnett.
He continued, "If hard work will get it done, then freshman Nick Dawson will be a success. Right now, he is running in several events for us, including the relays."
In the 100 meter dash, Dawson has finished with a time of 12.1 seconds. Also in the 200 meter dash, he has posted a time close to 24 or 25 seconds.
"The surprise of the spring for us here at Briarwood has been sophomore Hughlon Mays," said Coach Barnett. "He has totally amazed us through his hard work and dedication."
In a recent track meet that featured 11 schools, including two Class AAA teams as Pinewood Academy and George Walton, Mays ran the 100 meter dash with a time of 11.7 seconds. The winning time by the AAA schools was 11.1 seconds. Under his belt so far at Briarwood, Mays has won a couple of 100 meter dash races and is running well in the 200 meter event.
"Another athlete that has made his presence known has been David Joesbury," Coach Barnett said. "He is really just coming on full-time in the track program, because he has played multi-sports in the spring."
He added, "Joesbury won the high jump event in his first meet of the year with a leap of 5' 10". He is starting to work hard now to perfect his technique."
The teams of Briarwood Academy will be participating in the region meet on April 20 at Gatewood academy in Eatonton.