Lady Pirates track team looks to grow in 2021

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
BOONVILLE LADY PIRATES TRACK TEAM (front row, left to right) Kylee Turner, Jodie Bass and Gracie Sadler. (second row, left to right) Melissa Baker, Haylie Mendez, Gracie Rose, Emily Gibson, Emma Pritchett, Alison Eichelberger, Olivia Eichelberger, Rachel Massa and assistant coach Paul Stevens. (third row, left to right) Assistant coach Ryan Lyons, Jasmine Price, Daylynn Baker, Addy Nichols, Twelva Mason, Elly Giroux, assistant coach Caleb Myers, Leah Gerhart-Cook, and volunteer throws coach Alan McCarter.

After losing the entire 2020 season due to the pandemic, Boonville girls track coach Melissa Baker said this season will be a growing year for the Lady Pirates.

With 16 girls suited out for the 2021 season, Baker said this spring will involve several young athletes and a few that are new to track and field.

“We are looking to improve each and every track meet, both individually and as a team,” Baker said. “We want our upperclassmen to be leaders by setting an example of what it means to work hard in practice and then carry that over to a meet.”

The Lady Pirates will find out soon enough where they stand in the season opener on Thursday, March 25 at California.

With all of last season lost due to COVID-19, Baker said it will be hard to determine who would be the favorite in the Tri-County Conference. She said the top four finishers from 2019 always produce solid competitive teams.

In 2019, Eldon captured first in the TCC while Osage finished second, Blair Oaks third, Southern Boone fourth and Versailles fifth. Boonville, Hallsville and California rounded out the bottom three in that order.

“I think we will have several all-conference performances, and we definitely could have individual event conference champions,” Baker said. “However, due to the smaller size of our team it will be difficult to win enough points to win the title. I foresee us being in the middle of the pack again this year. The key is for the girls to show up every day ready to work hard, have a grit mindset and look to get better every day and every performance.”

Of the 16 girls out for the team this season, four return with track experience. 

Baker said the experience from the four upperclassmen and the team chemistry will be a strength of the team this season. “I think we have the athletes who are willing to put the time and effort in to become better,” Baker said. “We also have solid senior leadership. What is going to hurt us in the long run is that this is a young team with lots to learn. We also have athletes who are still searching for their niche. The smaller numbers will also affect our team standing at a meet.”

The goals, however, haven’t change from this season to two years ago. Baker said like every year the goal is to get stronger, quicker and better every day.

The motto for this year’s team is, “Success is no accident, it is hard work”.

Baker said the coaches picked this motto because they want kids to start identifying the traits that other have that make them successful.

“This holds true not only in track and field, but in school work and in life,” Baker said. “As coaches we pick two Grit Athlete’s of the Week each week. We are choosing athletes that work hard no matter what, as well as athletes that don’t complain and athletes who give it their all day in and day out. We want our athletes to develop drive and perseverance in everything they do.”

Of course who better to lead the Lady Pirates than  seniors Daylynn Baker, Jodie Bass and Gracie Sadler and junior Olivia Eichelberger.

Baker, the school record holder in the 300 hurdles in 47.14 seconds as a freshman, was also a state finalist her sophomore year in the 4 x 100 relay and part of the school record team. She also earned all-conference in 2019 in the 300 hurdles and 4 x 100 and was conference champ in 2018 in the 100 hurdles and 4 x 100.

Baker said she is excited for Daylynn’s senior year. “I’m looking for her to be competitive again in the 300 hurdles,” Baker said. “She will be a strong leg in relay and other open events as well.”

As for Bass, the senior standout was also a sectional qualifier in 2019 in the 4 x 100, 4 x 200 and 100 meter dash-which she ran in 12.77 seconds. Bass was also a state qualifier in 2019 in the 4 x 100 and school record holder in 52.03 seconds and 400 meter dash in 1:05.

Baker said she is looking for Bass being a strong relay leg and running the open 100 and 400 meter dash.

As for Sadler, she threw the javelin in 2019 and recorded a personal best throw of 76’-4”. She also competed in the pole vault.

Baker said Sadler is a leader in the throws this year. “I am looking forward to her throwing shot put, discus and javelin and working on pole vault,” Baker said. 

As for Olivia Eichelberger, she returns in the middle distance events. Baker said Eichelberger will compete in the 800 and relays this season. As a freshman, Eichelberger recorded a personal best time of 6:11 in the 1600, 13:49 in the 3200 and 2:56 in the 800.

“Olivia is coming out strong this season,” Baker said. “She works hard at practice and I am excited to see her be competitive on the track. It will be exciting to see which events she shines at this season.”

Other athletes that will contribute greatly this season are juniors Rachel Massa and Gracie Ross and sophomore Emily Gibson.

Massa will compete in the 1600, 3200, 4 x 800 and pole vault, while Rose will compete in the javelin, sprints and relays. As for Gibson, she will participate in the 1600, 3200 and 4 x 800.

Baker said Massa is working hard. “This will be Rachel’s first year to compete in track, but she did great at cross-country and I am looking forward to watching her run,” Baker said. “She wants to learn how to pole vault and has been working on that as well. 

“As for Gracie (Rose), this will be her first year, also. She is learning the javelin and coach Meyers said she is picking it up quickly. Emily, meanwhile, did a great job at cross-country for two seasons and is working hard every day at practice.”

As for the freshmen and rest of the sophomores, Baker said all of the newcomers have shown a consistent work ethic every day. “They come to practice ready to work hard and get better,” Baker said. “I think they are excited to compete and be a part of the BHS Pirates track and field team.”

Those freshmen and sophomores competing for the first team are: Addy Nichols, Kylee Turner, Emma Pritchett, Twelva Mason, Presley Nease, Jasmine Price, Leah Gerhart-Cook, Alison Eichelberger and Elly Giroux.