The Greenbrier High School girls track-and-field team has discovered there is life after Lindsey.
Lindsay Sutherland was a standout in five events and led the Lady Wolfpack to new heights in 2002, but she graduated last spring and is now a scholarship athlete at Gardner-Webb University.
After losing the best track athlete in school history, Greenbrier was expected to have a hard time defending the Region 3-AAAA title this season.
That assumption was made before Rene'e Jones hit the scene. The transfer student from Tampa, Fla., has put the Lady Pack back on the fast track to success.
"It was a nice addition to the team, for sure," Greenbrier coach Kati Smallwood said of the junior newcomer. "She's definitely a top athlete for our team. She's broken school records in every event she does."
Greenbrier junior Renee Jones crosses the finish line with a win Saturday during the 4x100 relay.
Photo by Chris Thelen
Jones set numerous track records at both high schools she attended in Florida, and now she's shattering records at the Brierpatch. Speed is her specialty, as Jones has established school marks in the 400-meter (58.9) and 200-meter (25.5) races. She also has tied for the top in long jump (16 feet, 4 inches).
Another standard fell Saturday during the Greenbrier Invitational. Jones teamed with Alisha Simmons, April Bennett and Melisa Butler to post a 48.2 time in the 400-meter relay.
Jones anchored the relay, and when she blazed across the finish line the old school mark was eclipsed by a full second. The time posted by the Lady Pack relay runners also matched the Class AAAA state championship time from last year.
The Greenbrier girls went on to win Saturday's meet with a slim victory over Thomson, with Evans placing third in the nine-team event. Jones was first in the 200-meter race, added a third in the 400, and helped the 4x100 relay finish second.
"I love the Greenbrier track team," Jones said. "We have a real good coach and we have a lot of fun. We're very well-balanced. We have good distance runners, jumpers and sprinters. Our biggest goal is to win region."
Greenbrier achieved that goal for the first time last year, but a repeat seemed out of reach in 2003.
The Lady Pack had some solid returnees, including Simmons, Bennett, Carmen Preston and Blaire Peters, and they all fared well in the Greenbrier Invitational. Bennett was second in the 300 hurdles, Peters was second in the 3,200-meter run, and Preston placed second in high jump.
Still, with a strong Thomson team back, plus with Cross Creek, Baldwin and Jones County entering Region 3-AAAA, Greenbrier was going to be hard-pressed to keep pace this season.
But the unexpected arrival of Jones, who is referred to as "the Eric Marshall of track," has brightened prospects at the Brierpatch. Marshall transferred in from Florida and became a basketball star for the Pack.
Now, another junior transfer wants to do the same thing in a different sport.
"I heard a lot about the track team winning region, and I heard Lindsey Sutherland was a very good runner and a big asset to the team," Jones said. "I'm trying to do what I can to fill her spot so we can win region again."
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