French Camp ready to open 2020 season

By LAURENCE HILLIARD,

A couple of long distance runners – senior Colby Walters for the boys and freshman Averie Jane Gundy for the girls – will lead the French Camp track teams this spring. The Panthers open the season Thursday with a meet at Pearl High School.

The boys and girls teams both finished eighth at last year's 1A state meet. Walters was second in the 800 and 1600 and Gundy sixth in both races. In the fall, both made all state in cross country, Walters with a sixth-place finish at the state meet and Gundy in ninth place.

Coach Joe Watkins said he has a large contingent for the girls teams, but a small boys team. “Colby is the guys' team for the most part. I have high expectations for him.”

He is also high on a couple of eighth graders, Stratton Choppola and Silas Hodge, who will run the middle and long distance races. They were key members of the cross country teams that finished fourth at the state meet, Choppola finishing 22nd and Hodge 27th out of 89 runners.

“We're looking for good things from him,” Watkins said of Choppola. “He keeps getting better and better.”

Watkins described Hodge as a powerful runner. “He looks like a football player.”

Phillip Caradine was the top sprinter for the Panthers as a junior last year, but will not be able to run this year due to a high ankle sprain suffered just before Christmas “He's still in a boot,” Watkins said,

The middle and long distance races will also be the strength of the girls team, led by Gundy, her sister Olivia, Lucy Littlejohn and Arista Rodriguez. Olivia Gundy and Rodriguez are eighth graders; Littlejohn a seventh grader. The Lady Panthers took third at the state cross country meet, with Olivia Gundy 17th and Littlejohn 26th.

Two other key members of the team are sophomores Maddi Davis in the hurdles and Jasmine Bonty in the weight events. Davis was sixth in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles at last year's state meet. Bonty was fourth in the shot put and seventh in the discus.