Region track champ eyes 2009
By Greg Sullivan
You would think Morgan County High School junior Andrea Ross has to warrant being called "a natural." And that would at least be partly right.
Having played softball for years, one of Ross' former softball coaches had always tried to convince her to take up a new sport to supplement her time on the diamond.
Then last season the Lady Dogs' shortstop finally succumbed to her former coach's urgings, joining the Morgan County track team for the 2007 season.
The result was startling; a state discus championship in her first year competing in the sport. On top of that, Ross was only a sophomore at the time. The title, she said, caught her by surprise.
Ross finished second in region last year, but surprised, not only herself, but everyone at the state meet in Albany. This year, although she didn't place at a very competitive state meet, she added a region discus title to her list of accomplishments, the only Lady Dog to do so.
Now with state and region titles under her belt, the Lady Dogs are hoping that Ross' leadership will serve them well as the program moves up to compete in Class AAA next season. But it's Ross' hard work, not her natural abilities, that her coaches want younger players to learn from the rising senior.
"She works extremely hard, she's a good student and a good softball player," said Morgan County track coach Charlemagne Gibbons. "I hope she can serve as a model for hard work for our team."
"And hopefully," Gibbons added, "she'll have the opportunity to win another state championship."
This year, Ross said, she was somewhat disappointed by not placing at the state meet on May 5 coming off her strong showing the year before. Ross finished just short of qualifying for the second round of competition at the Albany event.
"I threw my three and it just wasn't enough to go to the next round," she said. However, Ross said she expects the meet will serve as motivation for her as she trains for next season.
"Over the summer before this season I really didn't do enough work," Ross said. "But this time I'm definitely planning on working hard and trying to get better during the off-season."
After losing much of their senior leadership from their 2007 track team to graduation, the Lady Dogs fielded a young squad this past season. In 2009, though, some of those younger players, including Ross, will now be seasoned veterans.
The team, though, has their work cut out for them as they'll face stiffer competition with their transition to Class AAA and their new region.
"I watched them (Class AAA) at state and they were pretty good," Ross said, saying the classification's winning discus throws were about 10 feet further than that of Class AA's.
Ross, however, is confident that her team will compete well next season. On a personal level, her goal is very simple.
"I want to just get better," she said.
Along with looking forward to next year's softball and track season, the rising senior said she also looks forward to finishing up at Morgan County High School and moving on to play college softball.