After possibly one of the most successful seasons in school history, the JCHS track team officially celebrated the end of the year with a special awards dinner and ceremony at the Johnson County Crewette building last week. The first and foremost recognition went to the 13 competitors on the team that qualified and moved on to sub-sectionals in Greenville. Two of those, J.R. Speed and Jacob Henson, actually went on to the next level at sectionals with Henson taking a top 10 spot overall.
Both Henson and Speed were given plaques to commemorate their accomplishment, alongside fellow teammates like Stephanie Coffey and Andy Rosado, who did well in Greenville. In addition to those given to the qualifiers, Head Coach Penny Gentry also presented four individual awards for most valuable player, boys and girls Longhorn awards, and most improved.
Having been one of the most consistent players who also went on to sign with Milligan Colleges track team, it was no surprise that Senior Jacob Henson received the title of MVP. What was shocking, however, was just how far Henson was able to go this season in an event that he had never competed in. Trying the triple jump for the first time just before qualifying for sub-sectionals, Henson dominated the local meets, taking third overall in sectionals and earning a tenth place spot in the state qualifying. Unfortunately only the top eight spots get to move on, but even so Henson was able to rank better than almost any competitor from Johnson County before him in any event.
J.R. Speed, who also went to sectionals, received the Boys Longhorn award, while Brooke Wilcox, a notably strong contender throughout the season, took the Girls Longhorn Award. Coach Gentry had nothing but good to say about both members of the team, noting particularly the tough challenges Speed has faced in getting to this point.
J.R. is very humble, Gentry said. He doesnt give himself credit like he should. He doesnt think he is a good as he actually is. He just came out of shoulder surgery straight out of basketball. Then he went through rehab and no one really knew how he was going to run. I had J.R. in elementary school, I know he is as fast as lightening, but I think he really surprised himself. I dont think he would admit it but I think he is proud of himself and I am very proud of what he has accomplished and excited to have him again for two more years.
Wilcox is also a runner that has had numerous top 20 finishes against even the toughest schools, as well as several top ten finishes as well. Like many of the students on the team, Wilcox has seen a vast amount of improvement over the season, finishing up with a solid performance in Greenville. Yet, possibly the biggest change among any of the girls on the team came from Stephanie Coffey, who received the Most Improved award.
Stephanie really worked hard this year, Gentry said. All the kids continuously improved throughout the season. We think this is the most that have ever went from Johnson County to sub-sectionals. Im very pleased. They worked hard and that showed. There were kids like Dustin Jenkins who came in as a very strong contender to be a freshman. He pushed some of our boys on a little further than they would have went otherwise. Im very happy and I think the kids are very happy. Theyre already looking forward to next year, and Im looking forward to next year just to see what they can do.
The success this year has prompted Gentry to look toward the future, especially considering how young the team is overall. Having participated in a few of the tougher meets with some success, an extended schedule is one part of the changes Gentry sees next season. Were going to try to do more invitationals on Saturdays where theyre up against a little stiffer competition, said Gentry. They really seemed to enjoy those and were going to try to do a couple more next season. It lets them run up against that tough competition and gives them an idea of whats out there; to know before they go to sub-sectionals and meet these bigger schools.
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