The 2016 track and field season was one of transition for the Belleville West girls track program as first year head coach Sally Stephens worked with and trained a young Maroons squad.
This spring, with both Stephens and the Maroons with a year of experience behind them, a still young West team looks to move up the ranks in the Southwestern Conference.
West, which opened its outdoor season on Friday at the Southwestern Illinois Relays, has two of the top seniors in the SWC in Dejah Campbell and Kameron Frazier as well as two elite athletes in junior Brittney Walker and sophomore Kelvi Searcy, all of which could contend for berths in the Class 3A state track meet in May.
But Stephens also has plenty of quality depth in the sophomore and junior classes, of which to develops as the season goes on.
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“I love being a head coach. I think a big part of it is working with the kids, helping them develop and then helping them become the athletes that they want to be,” Stephens said. “Our senior class only has four members but three of them are four-year track team members and we’re looking for (seniors) Dejah Campbell and Kameron Frazier to step up as leaders for us.
“We have strong sophomore and junior classes as well and so we’re hoping to have a successful season.”
Frazier will lead the Maroons efforts in the sprints and will also compete in the sprint relays, while Campbell will combine with Searcy to give West a pair of superb athletes in the hurdles. Campbell will also run in some relays. But just as important as they are as individual athletes is that Stephens hopes her two standout seniors will step up as leaders.
“What we’re trying to do it build the team chemistry and create more of a tem atmosphere,” Stephens said. “Track and field can be such an indviidualized sport, but I wanted to build the family environment because I believe that type of success leads to a more successful program.
“These kids are really working hard to make it a family and create a very good team environment.”
Senior CC Campbell is another four-year track athlete who will compete in the discus and shot put, while Walker is one of the conferences top athletes in the long jump and triple jump. Walker will also compete in the 200 meters. Juniors Amaria Byrd and Teonna Davis are other exceptional athletes who will compete in the sprints.
“We have a large group of young sprinters and I’m really excited about a strong group of distance kids that have shown a lot of potential,” Stephens said.
Freshman Danell Meitzenheimer will help in the field events while competing in the shot put and discus.