Duplicating those accomplishments of a year ago will be a challenge for the Lady Spartans, with the loss of several key performers. But with the return of senior standouts Kelli Hardnett and Monti Willis, Campbell still has the potential to make some noise come time for the region and state meets.
The Lady Spartans’ success in 2011 certainly has increased the expectation and excitement level for the team, according to coach Mike McCloud.
“There is a lot more excitement among the student body towards track and field,” McCloud said. “We’re all excited about the season.”
Campbell does have some big holes to fill, though, with the departure of Shaina Walker, Tershauna Broadnax and Brianna Chambers, who all contributed to the Lady Spartans’ third-place finish in the 400-meter relay and fourth-place showing in the 1,600 relay at the state meet.
“Losing (Walker, Broadnax and Chambers) is the biggest difference for us,” McCloud said. “We lost three girls from the (400) relay team and lost one girl from the (1,600) relay team. But we know our program has been build on our relay teams for the last 20 years, so I feel pretty good about that.”
Fortunately for Campbell, it will once again have Hardnett and Willis, its two biggest point-scorers in last year’s state meet.
Hardnett finished second in the long jump and fifth in the 200 dash at the state meet, while Willis was fourth in both the 100 hurdles and high jump, as well as fifth in the 300 hurdles.
“This year, Kelli and Monti have to step up and take more of a leadership role,” McCloud said. “They were leaders last year, but with Tershauna, Shaina and Brianna gone, their role is even more important than last year.”
The Lady Spartans will need a few more athletes to step up alongside Hardnett and Willis if they are to stay among the top tier in Class AAAAA.
Campbell is hoping to get some of that extra support from a number of its returning athletes, including senior high jumper Priscilla Atkinson, junior sprinter Norelithia Harris, junior distance runner Laurie Pray and junior middle distance runner Jazmin Lacy.
McCloud is aiming for another successful season for his Lady Spartans, though he acknowledges that matching their accomplishments of a year ago won’t be easy.
“I would have to say staying focused and healthy is the key to another successful season,” McCloud said. “We lost three athletes that helped us compete at a very high level, but we have Kelli and Monti back, and we have several other promising athletes on the roster, so we still have the potential for a successful season.”