By JP Widner
Dublin- As the 2013 outdoor track & field came to an end, Jamie McCarty, the head coach for Pulaski County High School, announced his resignation as the head cross-country/track & field coach. After eight years as the head coach and nine total years in the program, McCarty is leaving to pursue his master’s degree while coaching cross country at Sherando High School near Winchester.
The track and field program is arguably the most successful team at PCHS in recent years, sporting numerous district, regional and state champions in the past nine years. Just two weeks ago, the Cougars captured eight All-State awards. McCarty credits the success to his hard working athletes and coaches along with support from the parents.
Many PCHS athletes who have trained under McCarty have gone on to compete at the college level. Seniors Sydney Anderson (Indiana University), Tamera Smith (Radford University), Sarah Wright (James Madison University), Ian Calfee (Emory & Henry College) and Julie Guthrie (Yale University) will compete for their respectful schools this next year in various sports. Current Pulaski County High School German Teacher Lauren Meek ran four years for Salem College. Leslie Anderson (James Madison University), Nikki Roseberry (Radford University), Sabrina Hall (Milligan College), Alfreda Harder (Virginia State University), Amber Church (Radford University), Grace England (Roanoke College), Lance McDaniel (Concord College), Josh Crowder (Concord College) and Will Frye (Milligan College) have all trained under McCarty’s guidance in the past nine years.
No other Cougar program can boast that many awards and athletes moving on to compete at the collegiate level in recent years. What makes this an even more amazing feat is that the roster of the team has been basically a skeleton crew due to lack of participation.
While the track & field program has gained notoriety in the past decade, it has lacked the cooperation and support from other sports. Some of the current athletes have been stretched thin by demands of football, softball, soccer and basketball while being in their track season. Other athletes feel obligated to not run track due to commitments to off-season workouts for their other sports. A compromise and cooperation between all Cougar coaches would build a bigger and more dominant track program at Pulaski County. All three track coaches have commented that PCHS would be unbeatable in the state of Virginia if that would take place.
At this time, the search is on for the new cross-country/track & field coach for the high school. Five year Assistant Coach Sirak Ogbagabir has applied for the position. Ogbagabir has coached for the Cougars the past five years and is a former NCAA Division I cross-country/track athlete at the University of Toledo. While at Garfield High School, Sirak earned 12 All-District, 7 All-Regional and 2 All-State awards while competing in the 300 meter hurdles on up to the 5,000 meter race. He has primarily coached jumpers and middle distance runners while at PCHS. Assistant Coach and high school teacher Heather Booher has coached the throwers the past eight years with much success. She is waiting to see who is hired as the head coach before she makes her decision on whether to continue to coach.
The graduating seniors had some words for their younger teammates and incoming freshman. Tamera Smith encouraged them to set a goal and achieve it; to stay focused and never give up. Julie Guthrie tells them to trust themselves, their coaches and their training. Her coaches taught her to be strong both physically and mentally throughout her high school career. Sydney Anderson gave up her first love (basketball) to concentrate on track & field and never regrets the decision. She learned a lot from her former and current teammates. Sara Wright felt that the track & field team had the best team environment of any sport at PCHS. “No matter what limitations you’re dealt with in life, track is a great place to achieve goals with some wonderful teammates,” said Wright.
And so, the clock is ticking, and the current and prospective athletes are waiting to see who will take over the Cougar program. The PCHS administration has an important decision to make and the sooner, the better as cross-country season is nearing. Good luck and God-speed to the graduating seniors and their promising athletic careers in college. Congratulations to Coaches Jamie McCarty, Sirak Ogbagabir and Heather Booher for a job well done. The three of you and the athletes have set the bar high for the new incoming coach. Bravo!