DAVENPORT — With eyes on the future, June Wilden and her assistant coaches on the Clinton High girls track team decided to forgo potential points in varsity competition and make the night as successful as could be at the sophomore level at Thursday’s Mississippi Athletic Conference meet.
The desire to create confidence for the young athletes couldn’t have gone much better. While the varsity finished with just 11 points, the sophomores ran away with the team title, scoring 168 points.
“Our decision was we wanted the freshmen and sophomores to try to win the title as a team because it truly is a team sport,” Wilden said.
With only a handful of juniors and seniors on the team, that didn’t leave many events for the varsity. As it turned out, the Queens entered just two of the 18 — the 400-meter dash and the 800.
Junior Erin Wenzel earned fourth places in both races — running the 400 in 1:00.78 and the 800 in 2:27.80.
“It went good tonight,” she said. “I like running the open events.”
Wenzel won her heat of the 400 and said had she been in the fast heat, she might have earned a spot in the top three.
“I didn’t have anyone to push me in the 400,” she said. “It’s you against time, pretty much.”
Senior Shelby Weets, who also won her heat in the 400, scored Clinton’s other varsity point, taking eighth in the 800 (2:41.42).
Had Clinton’s times and distances in the sophomore meet been used — as well as the best times of the season in relays where Clinton uses a combination of younger and older runners — the River Queens could well have scored another 30-40 points. That might have pushed them up all the way to seventh in the team standings.
But, Wenzel stood by her coaches’ decision to sacrifice varsity points to make the younger athletes better.