DAVIDSON – Hmmm, coach Marc Sweet thought. Where can I find some athletes?
A few months back, Sweet was building Community School of Davidson’s first track and field team. His first few stops were in-house.
“I recruited by going to all the other (school) teams,” he said. “I said `Give me the best athletes off your team. My major pitch is that if you run for me, I guarantee you’re going to get better at your respective sport, whether it’s volleyball or basketball. And you never know, you might find yourself a track athlete. We’ve found several of them.”
The first edition of the Spartans has been surprising good.
Track and field is new to many of Sweet’s athletes, but their competitive spirit, flexibility and willingness to learn are forging a memorable maiden voyage.
“It’s new because we’re all starting to try things we’ve never done before,” said Tina Brumm, a sophomore. “The first time I high-jumped was in a meet.”
Was she filling in for a teammate? Did Brumm volunteer?
“No,” she said, laughing. “(Sweet) signed me up for it and said `go ahead.’
That’s one of the enjoyments the team and Sweet are having. Most don’t have track backgrounds, so he tries them in different events. One day, a girl may be running the two-mile race. In the next meet, she could be throwing the discus.
“There hasn’t been a lot of expectations out here, which is the coolest part of it,” Sweet said. “There isn’t any pressure on anybody. The goal is getting them to compete and have fun.”
Sweet’s team isn’t all newbies. It has a talented, experienced points-earner in sophomore Malia Ellington. She is an elite tri-athlete in national ranks, and this spring has the best times among Class 1A runners in three events – 800 meters (two minutes 15.9 seconds), 1,600 meters (4:56.45) and 3,200 meters (10:46.77). Her 800 time is the best in North Carolina in all classifications.
Last season, Ellington competed as part of the school’s club track team, which wasn’t eligible for regional and state meets. Now, the Spartans are sanctioned.
“It’s so much more fun to go to meets with a whole, big team,” Ellington said. “We have a great time being able to warm up together, watch and cheer each other’s events.”
There is plenty to applaud. In their first meet, CSD’s girls won by 73 points against seven other 1A schools. In 1A state rankings, Marissa Lundsten is 10th in 1,600 meters and eighth in 3,200 meters; Mercy Woods is fifth in high jump; Rachel Woods is seventh in the triple jump and the 4x400 relay team is eighth.
“The excitement of them not having any clue about what they’re doing – except Malia – is a godsend,” Sweet said. “They don’t know what to expect. They don’t know what to be down about. They don’t know what’s good or not, so they just go compete. If you can start a program by just competing, then build in the technique, that’s as pure as it gets.”