The Independent’s Sports Editor, Joseph Garcia, recently caught up with Liberty Hill High School girls track and volleyball Coach Gretchen Peterson for a Q&A session…
I: What have you been up to since coming back from the winter break?
P: Oh, just getting ready for track so that’s been good. We started practicing in the middle of January, so we’ve been practicing since then.
I: I know the weather has played a factor in a couple of track events this season, but what are your thoughts on the track team so far?
P: As far as the weather goes, everyone in our district are all kind of in the same boat. We’ve all lost the same number of meets so it’s kind of leveled the playing field. It’s not like one school is getting its meets in while we’re sitting at home, so I am not too worried about that.
We are having a lot of really good practices, we have a lot of kids coming back that did really good things for us last year, both on the boys’ and girls’ side. So, we are excited about that and we have some surprises, too. We have some freshmen stepping up and doing good things and some sophomores that peaked really well towards the end of their season last year that came back so much stronger and have really matured.
Overall, it’s an exciting time for us. There is definite potential to do some really big things this year.
I: Are there any particular events in which you feel that Liberty Hill will excel?
P: I think our mid-distance and distance kids across the board are some of the strongest in our district. The 800, the mile and the 2-mile both on the boys and girls are a lot of the same kids who had success in cross country. So, they are coming off of that and are in phenomenal shape and have competed at a high level, helping us in those areas as well.
We have some great skill people as well. I think Jessica (Green) is going to do great for us in the hurdles and high jump again. We actually have three really good high jumpers on the girls’ side, so we should do really well there.
Our pole vaulters are doing really good things and are moving in the right direction and our mile relay will be really good. So we have good quality kids that we can put in every event. We have some depth…we’ll pull some points in almost every event that we enter in district, so we are excited about that.
I: How is cross country state champion Susie Kemper looking so far?
P: She looks really good. She is ahead of her time compared to where she was last year at this time. She is running a little bit faster so that’s good. She is staying healthy and getting some quality workouts in. Despite not having the competitions in the two meets (Liberty Hill and Lampasas), she is moving in the right direction.
I: What about Jessica Green?
P: Jessica just came out of basketball and did so well and then our first meet got cancelled. So she hasn’t really had an opportunity to get on the track very much yet, but we’re hoping this week she can get some good workouts in and pick up where she left off last year as well.
I: With two meets remaining before the district meet (April 11-12 in Lampasas), what is the team’s focus right now?
P: We kind of just treat the meets (leading up to district) as another workout or practice since we know it doesn’t matter if you win the Burnet or Marble Falls meets, it’s what you can do when the pressure in on at district. So, we want them to go through those things they need to experience so when district comes they are ready mentally and physically.
We are just keeping everybody healthy, getting them confidence, experience and in shape. We are just getting them ready for district in mid-April.
I: Any teams or runners to look out for at the district meet?
P: Well, Llano has Marcos Vallejo and he is really good. He is, by far for our boys, in the mile and 2-mile, is that kind of guy that we’re going to really be racing up against.
As far as the girls go, Taylor is going to have a lot of speed in the sprint relay and races, they always do. Lampasas has a really good 100 hurdler. Salado has always been really strong in the 400 and 1/4, then they have some really good field event kids.
Llano always finds a way to compete. They may not have as many runners out there, but they bust their behinds to compete and do a good job.
I also know that in pole vault there will be a huge amount of competition. There are two Lampasas girls and two Burnet girls and a Salado girl who are all clearing 10-feet already.
Every point matters when it comes to district because all of the schools have different strengths and weaknesses, so we all kind of balance each other out in a way.
I: Do you miss volleyball?
P: I do, but it’s good because track is a good balance. Typically it’s two different groups of kids so I enjoy that. And for the most part I like being outside if it’s not cold and raining, so that part’s good.
It’s just a different mindset. There is still that competitive nature and that sort of thing, but it’s just a different approach. They balance each other out really well, so I enjoy it. When I’m in track I miss volleyball and when I’m in volleyball I miss track. I always have something to look forward to; I always know that is exciting for me coming up. That part is good; I really like it.