Charger girls look to stay on track

by C. Jemal Horton

Providence Day girls track standouts (from left) Dacia Thompson, Emma Brown, Arielle Massillon and Morgan Goodson. C. Jemal Horton/SCW photo

The Providence Day girls track and field team has had its fair share of success throughout the years, but one major thing has eluded the Chargers: a state championship.

This year, despite being one of the youngest teams in the state, the Chargers have a legitimate chance to win the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A state meet, which will be held Friday, May 18-Saturday, May 19 at Charlotte Country Day. And perhaps the biggest reason Providence Day is such a threat is the performance and leadership of a quartet of standouts: senior Dacia Thompson, juniors Arielle Massillon and Morgan Goodson and freshman Emma Brown.

Last week, the foursome helped the Chargers dominate their way to the Charlotte Independent Schools Athletic Association crown by taking home at least two individual gold medals apiece.

Thompson, who will compete in track and field and basketball at Queen’s University of Charlotte, won the shot put (38 feet, 7 inches) and the discus (93-10); Massillon won the 100 meters (13.26) and the 200 (27.39); Goodson won the high jump (5 feet) and the triple jump (33-6); and Brown won the 800 (2 minutes, 27.24), the 1,600 (5:24.74) and the 3,200 (11.77.87).

Massillon also was on the first-place 4×400 relay team with Sarah Whelan, Amanda McFeeley and Hannah Wilson. Brown was on the winning 4×800 relay squad with Nikki Plaus, McFeeley and Wilson.

The Chargers had 171 points, followed by Charlotte Latin (97), Charlotte Christian (42), Country Day (41) and Concord Cannon (18).

“It was really great to win conference because, since we had so many young people, we weren’t really expecting too much this year,” Goodson said. Now, we just want to win the state meet even more because we want to be the first Providence Day girls team to win it.”

Brown, Massillon, Goodson and Thompson aren’t the Chargers’ only talented athletes. Whelan took home the CISAA 400-meter title, and teammate Courtney Joyner was second. Wilson was second to Brown in the 800, Plaus was third in the 3,200, Sandie Bonwinker was second in the long jump and third in the high jump, Rachel Rolband was second in the pole vault, Jill Lally was second in the triple jump, Olivia Parker was third in the shot put, and Madeline Kestler was second in the discus. In addition, the foursome of Whelan, Wilson, Nia Scarboro and Josephine Grimmer won the 4×200.

But Chargers coach Carol Lawrence said Brown, Massillon, Goodson and Thompson have been especially instrumental in making sure the team remains focused and cohesive.

“They’re talented individuals, but they have the ability to bring everybody else on board with them,” Lawrence said. “They make sure the whole team has a great time together. When we go to a track meet, they’re all playing their music together and singing together. Even kids who are freshmen are now good friends with seniors, which is a bit different from previous years. So these four girls have been able to bring everybody from all areas of the team together.”

They also have the ability to quickly get focused on their individual events, which results in valuable points for the team.

“All four kids have an incredible work ethic,” Lawrence said. “Emma would run with the boys all day long, and she’s as tough as a nail. I tell her that she has to stop beating up on the boys – she’s that tough! With Morgan, have you ever heard of that saying, ‘Walk softly and carry a big stick’? That’s Morgan for you. She’s very quiet, but she gets out there and works. And in the corner of her eye, she’s looking out there thinking, ‘If that girl ever beats me, I’m going to cry.’ So she will push herself to keep from getting beaten.”

Lawrence continued: “Dacia? She puts that pressure on herself as well. She wanted to break the school (shot put) record, and she broke it. But she wants to do more. She wants to win states so badly. And with Arielle, there are some particular people who have been beating her for years, so when she goes to states this week, she wants to get them back. She’s just thriving on that.

“All four of them just have that determination about them. They want to win really badly.”

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