Spring Loaded part 2

This is the second story in a two-part series previewing spring sports at area high schools. Last week, the Village News offered a look at the excitement at Thomas Dale and potential at Matoaca.

Meadowbrook track looks to build on Prior success
Last year, Meadowbrook’s track team performed solidly, finishing in the top three in the district and sending many performers to states. Perhaps most notably, its 4x1 relay team, featuring athletes Cierra Morris, Angela Harris, Torie Cunningham and Jasmaine Smith, finished third.

This year, the squad will look for leadership from Morris on the girls’ side and Romaine Dorrell on the boys’ side. Both boast impressive GPAs, 3.8 and 3.65 respectively.

“Cierra [Morris] and Romaine [Dorrell] are definitely what I’d call scholar-athletes,” said head coach Rickey Brown. “They are consistent leaders out here in practice and in the classroom.”

Morris recently accepted a scholarship offer to JMU, while Dorrell is considering Hampton, Norfolk State, and North Carolina A&T as possible places to continue his education and running career.

On the boys’ side, the Monarchs will have several contributors with a chance to perform well in regional or state competitions.

“We’re a very young team this season, but we’ll look to our seniors and juniors for big contributions,” Brown said. “It’s expected out here that the older kids help and teach the younger kids, that’s what’s really going to help us.”

Garrett Tyler, a senior who was a solid regional and state competitor last year, will look to improve his performances even more this season. His high jump of 6 foot 7 inches was good for second in states last year, and he has been working to improve his performance in the long and triple jumps, as well.

Junior Dominic Philips, who competed in states in the long jump, according to his coach, is one of the team’s best sprinters, competing in the 100 meter and 200 meter events. Another underclassman, sophomore Tony Tyler, is looking to put forward an impressive season in the triple jump and hurdles.

On the throwing side, Meadowbrook has three strong candidates: Two in the shot, seniors Da’quan Chapman and Tevin Hanley, and one in discus, Dushown Thompson.

“Overall, I think our throwing has the chance to be the strongest on our boys’ team,” said Brown. “They have a lot of potential.”

On the girls’ side, there is plenty of speed to burn. The newest Bulldog, Morris, will look to compete and improve in her strongest events, the sprints and the high jump. Harris and Cunningham also look to improve in the sprints and the high jump, as well as their state performance in the 4x1 relay.

Meadowbrook will look to grow as a team this year, both on the track and in the classroom.

“It always seems to come down to Thomas Dale and Prince George,” said Brown. “We hope to be in that top three this year and make some waves. I tell them focus in the classroom leads to focus on the track, so we need to get it done in both places.”

Bird’s baseball team seeks consistency, momentum
L.C. Bird is showing a young team this year, with just two starting seniors: Connor Kaufman and Sean Belcher.

Staff ace Kaufman has signed with Cornell, and his arm and GPA go hand in hand: both are impressive.

“He’s a hard thrower and has a good off-speed pitch,” Bird head coach Tony Nicely said. “He’s a good leader, and he’s pitched for several national showcase teams.”

Belcher, meanwhile, roams centerfield for the Skyhawks.

“He’s got a great stick, good power, nice range in centerfield,” said Nicely. “He’s a very strong kid and pretty much the leader of the team.”

These two seniors will look to lead the wealth of youth on this year’s team. A pair of juniors, known as “The Nicks,” are among the underclassmen who stand to contribute.  Shortstop Nick

Connor and second baseman Nick Matty were on junior varsity team together, got called up to varsity together and will start together on this year’s team.

Connor is also the team’s closer. He’s often clocked at over 90 mph on his fastball and in three appearances so far this year, hitters have snatched just one hit and Connor has given up no runs.

The Skyhawks look to play consistently this year, and peak at the end of the season come tournament time.

“We want to build momentum and play with consistency all year,” said Nicely. “In the past, our hitting hasn’t been great, but I really feel like the guys are starting to come around this year. With Kaufman pitching, we feel like we can play with anyone.”

Practices can be long and structured under Nicely, as players work on fundamentals and baseball skills.

“We try to hold very structured practices. I feel like baseball is a technique sport and that needs to be practiced every day,” said Nicely. “We take a lot of reps every day to improve our game.”

It’s not a one-man coaching job for Nicely, however. Under Chesterfield budgeting, only one coach receives any kind of compensation for his or her time.

“I just want to give my coaches their due,” said Nicely. “Sal Kamp and Keenan Entsmiger are out there each and every single day for the love of the game.”

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