Harding back on track with young athletes

Warren G. Harding’s track and field program has gone through its share of change since Charles Penny took control of the program in 2004.

His main goal from day one was to produce a boys team state championship with its plethora of sprinting talent.

Harding eventually transformed into a multidimensional program with the addition of current KSU junior Marteze Roper, who was part of the 2010 Division I state championship.

The middle-distance runner added the 800- and 1,600-meter run prowess the team dearly sought during its speedster heyday.

Now, the Raiders are embracing their middle-distance roots and senior Jimmy Rumple is one of the area’s better 800 runners.

However, the future is bright for the Raiders. It has a lot to do with the team’s freshman class.

And, yes, the talent starts off with the sprints on the boys and girls side.

They’ve been breaking WGH freshman records in many events.

Keemari Murry has the record in the 100, while Justice Richardson broke the 100 and 200 marks. Her 100 time of 12.41 at the Poland Invitational is the 16th fastest time in the state.

“She comes from a very supportive family,” WGH coach Charles Penny said. “They do things the right way. They keep her grounded. You add that with some athletic ability and you get an athlete that’s pretty good.”

It doesn’t stop there There are plenty of other underclassmen helping the Harding cause.

Add to that a couple of talented eighth graders coming up next season, Penny said.

“They’re a whole lot of young talent in the Warren Harding track crew,” he said. “We have a whole lot of freshman boys and girls that are doing some great things. With public schools, you go in cycles. We have a cycle on the boys team we had a lot of talent sprinters and a lot talented kids. That led to a state championship in 2010. We had a few down years. You look now, we have a lot of talented freshmen coming around.”

The boys team seems to be rebounding after that senior-laden 2010 state championship season. The Raiders’ mojo seems to be translating to the track.

“The future looks very bright for Warren Harding track and all the athletics,” Penny said.

As for the girls, he predicts, like the boys in 2010, WGH’s girls will make a run at a state team title.

“We feel with the freshmen we have now and the eighth graders that are coming up next year and the sophomores and juniors we have now are, in a few years, going to compete for a state title,” Penny said.