FAIRMONT - In an unusual spring with unusual weather, the Fairmont Cardinals girls track and field team has a quartet of athletes who have dominated the field events.
Seniors Paige Bearson and Tracy Thiesse, along with junior Brooklyn Leichtnam and sophomore Sierra Schultz, have a strong hold on the field events in leading the Cardinals to their successful season.
"We typically have a few athletes that do really well for us, but this year, we have done unusually well in the field events," said Fairmont head coach Bob Bonk.
LEGENDARY LEAPERS — Fairmont track and field standouts, from left, Paige Bearson, Sierra Schultz, Tracy Thiesse and Brooklyn Leichtnam display their vertical jumps and athleticism during Tuesday’s practice session at Cardinal Track in Fairmont. Fairmont’s fearsome foursome hopes to put its skills to the test during Friday’s Sentinel Relays in Fairmont. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Doing well seems to come naturally to these four who also are the top four scorers for the Cardinals.
Schultz has succeeded both on and off the track for the Cardinals, leading the team in scoring this season. Schultz has earned honor-roll performances in each of her four events - the long and triple jumps and 100- and 300-meter hurdles.
After winning the Section 2A championship in the triple jump and claiming a ninth-place finish at the state meet in 2012, Schultz has reached the honor roll again with a distance of 35 feet, 1/2 inch.
Schultz's long jump of 16-2 1/2 has put her on the honor roll, along with a 300 hurdles time of 50 seconds for a first-time honor-roll standard. The high hurdles time of 15.7 puts her fourth all-time in the Fairmont record books, along with placing her on the honor roll.
"Sierra is such a fast learner. She can work on an event two or three times and with her abilities, do things that some people can't accomplish in their careers," said Bonk. "She is just a scoring machine in each meet, and is such a focused athlete."
With two years remaining in her prep track and field career, Schultz has scored 665 career points, and could become the Fairmont all-time leader.
"A meet like the (Sentinel) Relays is really good because the competition is just as good as you are. It really pushes you to do better," said Schultz.
In the long and triple jumps Schultz and Bearson are both successful, pushing each other every day to improve their jumps.
Bearson has earned honor-roll performance in both the long and triple jumps, with leaps of 16-11 1/4 and 34-8 1/4, respectively. Coming off of a 10th-place finish in the Class A state triple jump with a leap of 34-5 1/4, Bearson is looking for a return trip.
"I think it's been hard this season to get back to where we were last year at the end of the season because of the weather," said Bearson. "We haven't been jumping outside that much and it's been hard to practice."
Despite missing out on practice time, Bearson has added experience to the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400 relays.
"Paige is a hard worker for us and is solid in both of her jumps," said Bonk. "Last year at sections, she had a clutch jump to reach the state meet, and she just doesn't fold under pressure. She is a great competitor."
Thiesse has helped Fairmont succeed in a variety of events this season, with her high achievements coming in the high jump.
Thiesse, a five-time letter-winner, has reached seventh all-time in the high jump with her personal-best mark of 5-2 this season. She also has ran both the open 200 and the 4x200 relay to the No. 5 spot on the all-time list in 27.7 seconds, along with running a strong open 400 and 4x400 relay.
"I think that Tracy might be the most versatile on the track. She can run the 300 hurdles, the 200 and 400. She has definitely excelled as much on the track as she has off of it," said Bonk.
This Friday, the talented opponents will look to push Thiesse and her teammates even farther.
"All the people that come to watch and all the different teams competing in the meet, it pushes you and makes you want to do so well," said Thiesse.
Brooklyn Leichtnam, the lone pole vaulter of the group, has reached a personal-best height of 8-6 this season for the seventh spot on the all-time list.
Leichtnam is the third-highest scorer for the Cardinals this season, and adds her talents to both the hurdle events as well as the relay races.
"Brooklyn is really solid in pole vault. That was an area we weren't sure about with the girls behind her, but Brooklyn has done a really good job," said Bonk. "And she is a good hurdler and I feel like if I need to move her around to different events, I can. She is a versatile and important part to our team."
Leichtnam's high hurdles time of 17.61 and 300 hurdles time of 51.64 have helped the Cardinals more than once to sweep the hurdle events.
"I really like the vault, but the 300 hurdles and I have love-hate relationship," said Leichtnam. "This season has been hard because I've really only practiced vaulting once or twice outside, so I just hope to keep improving on my personal best on Friday."
With such successful athletes in nearly all the field events, the Cardinal girls will look soar by their opponents during Friday's 58th running of the Sentinel Relays at Cardinal Track in Fairmont.