Clovers will run on the experience of fourth-year 'freshmen team'

Thursday, March 28, 2013
Cloverdale's Amillia Nally, a member of the "freshman team" as a 2013 senior, competes in a relay during the 2012 West Central Conference track meet. (Banner Graphic Archive/CAINE GARDNER)

CLOVERDALE -- The only way to get better at a track and field event is to work hard, practice and gain experience.

When Cloverdale girls' head coach Susi Jordan looks at her "freshmen" team, she sees all three.

"Even though they're seniors, they refer to themselves as my freshmen team," Jordan said. "We're just a really close-knit group."

Jordan began working with the Class of 2013 when they were in just fifth grade. While she's lost a few along the way -- to softball, golf and other things -- the ones that have stayed have helped shine a light on Putnam County's southern-most track program.

"For the majority of these girls, I'm the only coach they've ever had," Jordan said. "The seniors have had me for eight years now. That's a long time to have the same coach."

While some people might get sick of one another after eight years, the time together has just brought them closer, Jordan said.

Part of that is just buying in to what the coach expects and part of it is sharing the same goals.

"We don't do drama; we don't do attitudes; we don't have senioritis," Jordan said. "We just really have a good group of girls that are willing to help each other, and that I think is our strength. We've got freshmen running with seniors and they're just working really well together."

The team lost a few key contributors to graduation last season, but several will now have a chance to step up.

Paige "Diddle" Gruener is one of the leaders, but all the seniors have stepped up to show their event group the ropes.

"Diddle pulls the sprinters, and so does Miranda Tate," Jordan said. "Claudia Monet really pulls the distance girls. ... My seniors work as a group. Not one stands out.

"All of them -- all of my seniors -- and that's unusual. You usually have senioritis, and I don't have that. And I'm proud of that."

Jordan began working with the class as a middle school coach eight years ago. When this year's seniors were in eighth grade, the group went undefeated.

The next year, as they moved on to high school, Jordan moved up with them.

Every one on the team this year is one of Jordan's girls, she said, and the chemistry and talent could pay off.

Cloverdale's 4x800 relay team is hoping to be top-two in the county. They have a hurdler with ambitions of going to state.

"Overall, as a team, we just want to do as well as we did last year," Jordan said. "We were really happy with how we did last year and we'll go from there."

If chemistry and leading by example have anything to do with it, the Clovers will be at optimum ability all season. The seniors will make sure of that.

"They don't treat the freshmen like freshmen, and that's what I love," Jordan said. "Because they remember what it was like when they came in. They were the big group when they came in.

I've lost a few over time ... but overall, those seniors step up and jus twork as a team to pull everybody together."

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