PCA back on track, sort of

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 20, 2001

Brittany White, from right, David Holloman, Anna Reiber and Brittany Cobb, practice on PCA’s football field. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[04/20/01] There is no track around the football field at Porters Chapel Academy. In 1997, the track team was shelved because of lack of interest.

Four years later, the school still doesn’t have a track but it sure does have a team.

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After a hiatus, the newly reformed PCA track team has 41 members in its first season, which wraps up with Friday’s high school district meet.

The turnout has surprised PCA coach Roger Browning.

“I think it’s just the excitement of starting something new … A lot of these kids don’t really start on a lot of other teams, and this gives them a chance to start for something,” Browning said. “I think everybody was surprised. It’s been a welcome surprise though. One of those good surprises.”

Enough interest had grown in the student body for the program to be resurrected, PCA athletics director Bubba Mims said, adding that it also helps the school’s other teams by keeping athletes in shape.

Browning, who coached track for five years at Sharkey-Issauqena, was a logical choice to coach the team.

“They asked what I thought about it, and I said I’d love to get the track program going,” Browning said.

The team is also part of a plan to start several new sports teams at the school.

In addition to the track team, a golf team will be formed next spring and the girls softball team will switch from slow-pitch to fast-pitch for the fall.

“We’re going to have a golf team next year for sure. We got track this year, and there’s been some talk of soccer,” Mims said. “We’re going to try and get as many programs out here as we can.”

If the early success of the track team is any indication, they may need to start a new trophy case too.

The varsity girls’ team, with only five members, has finished fourth out of 14 teams at its last five meets. Led by distance runner Allison Horn, a St. Aloysius transfer, the Lady Eagles have gained a lot of their points in relays and distance events.

The 4×200 relay team of Jessica Corbet, Kelly Ashley, E.J. Willis and Brittany White has a season-best second-place finish to its credit.

The success is a bit surprising, not just because PCA is in its first year, but because they don’t have a home track. Practice consists mostly of laps around the football field and runs up a hill that leads to Porters Chapel Road.

“It’s very, very tough. It’s hard to keep the kids focused. It’s hard to practice actual events. It’s just harder to get the feel of a mile,” Browning said.

The boys varsity team hasn’t fared as well as the girls’ because three of its five members compete only in field events. The two runners, sophomores Roman Embry and Chet Wessman, joined the team primarily to stay in shape for other sports.

“I wasn’t playing baseball, so I just decided to do this to help the school,” said Wessman, also a basketball player.

The junior high teams give hope for more success in the future, however. With 31 juniors, including 13 sixth-graders, the Eagles are gaining precious experience that will help them as they compete against older junior high runners, and eventually progress to the varsity level.

“That’s a lot of sixth-graders running aganst eighth- and ninth-graders,” Browning said. “It takes a lot of guts to do that, and they’ve fared very well.”