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Published: 4/21/2005

Sidelines: Against all odds

BY STEVE JUNGA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Nicole Crowell practices a toss at
Libbey. The discus/shot put practice area is a cement spot
near a drain next to the football field.
Nicole Crowell practices a toss at Libbey. The discus/shot put practice area is a cement spot near a drain next to the football field.
Enlarge
Libbey s Peggy Moore, left, and Danyelle McGary cool down after a sprinting on Libbey s old track. Four other Toledo public schools face the same dilemma. Libbey s Peggy Moore, left, and Danyelle McGary cool down after a sprinting on Libbey s old track. Four other Toledo public schools face the same dilemma.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge
Jobe Jobe
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

Libbey s track teams may not have much in the way of on-campus facilities to practice on, but that hasn t prevented two girls from being ranked among the area s elite individual performers.

Danyelle McGary, the only junior on the girls team of only 14 competitors, swept the City League s 100, 200 and 400-meter sprint finals last year, and placed runner-up in the 400 at the Division I state championships.

Along the way, McGary broke CL the 400 record (55.90 by Central Catholic s Ericka Haney in 1998) in the CL meet with a 55.23, then broke the district record set by Scott s Jackie Sanders (56.30 in 1986) by running 55.56. She ran a 55.41 in winning the regional, and had a 55.68 in the state final.

McGary, who also advanced to the state meet as a freshman, has accomplished these feats all while training on her school s makeshift track.

It s all messed up, McGary said of Libbey s track. There aren t any real lanes, and it s not the same material that we run [races] on.

Her solution?

I m just going to practice harder, she said.

McGary gained some extra incentive last week when she was beaten in the 400 and 200 by Bowsher freshman Meshawn Graham in a tri-meet at Bowsher.

It s good to have some competition, McGary said, because it s going to push me harder.

The roughly 400-meter oval that surrounds Libbey s football field is composed of sand and crushed stone. It is about the width of three official lanes, and becomes a bit hazardous when wet because of deep foot holes.

Sometimes it s hard for them to accept, ninth-year coach Ted Jobe said. They ask me, Why does Bowsher have a track and we don t have one? I try to explain the economics of it, and that the board of education is strapped for money and they re just not going to do it right now.

But sometimes it s difficult to explain equity to a kid who s 15, 16 years old. They still walk away mumbling, That s not fair.

Peggy Moore, is one of four sophomores on the squad. She won last year s City League high jump title and narrowly missed qualifying for regional.

Moore did this despite having no landing mat for the high jump until Start donated its old, worn-out pad midway through last season.

The foam rubber s sort of broken down, but it s better than nothing, Jobe said. Prior to that we had nothing at all, so something s better than nothing.

What is difficult when you don t have a track?

Everything, Moore said. We don t have the [starting] blocks and we don t have real lanes to practice in and we don t have the real distance around.

It s a good thing in a way that we don t have it, because it makes us run harder and work harder for when we do get on a track.

This year Moore is also competing in long jump and some sprints.

Libbey has one of the five CL programs which do not have regulation track facilities.

I know that they re not going to get us a new track, so you have to do what you have to do, Jobe said. After you ve been doing what you re doing with nothing for a while, you get used to it.

I don t complain because I know the answer is no. I know they re not going to do anything more than what they re doing. What other choice do I have? Quit in protest?

Libbey s long jump pit, dug only last year, is a six-foot-by-20-foot landing area filled with 18 inches of sand. A parking lot which leads into the pit serves as a makeshift approach. Hurdles are run in the school basement to avoid excessive cuts and bruises from falling on the crushed stone. Discus and shot put competitors use a slab of concrete near the football field for their throwing area.

Rogers, Scott, Waite and Woodward all Toledo Public Schools entries also do not have tracks adequate for competition. Bowsher and Start are the only TPS high schools that have track facilities used for meets.

The CL s three private schools Central Catholic, St. Francis de Sales and St. John s Jesuit all have tracks, as do non-TPS public schools Clay and Whitmer.

When schools without track facilities need to work out on a regulation track, it is City League policy that any of these have-nots can practice at the schools with tracks.

Obviously the best workout is going to be on a regulation-size track, Jobe said. To get a decent workout, usually a day or two before a meet, we try to round up enough people, parents or whoever, that can drive them over to Bowsher.

Moore keeps a positive attitude.

It really doesn t matter whether you have a track or not. It depends on your dedication and how hard you want to work at it, Moore said.

Contact Steve Junga at:sjunga@theblade.comor 419-724-6461.



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