Track preview ... Buffs strong in the sprints

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Atwood-Rawlins County head coach John Terry has coached the Buffaloes' track program virtually every year since 1970. The teams have won five track championships, all coming since 1990. The Buffs have normally seen success in the 1,600-meter relay and throwing events. However, this year, Atwood's strength lies in the sprints with a pair of sisters who grew up in Rawlins County and another sprinter who came from halfway around the world. Junior Dylan Tiemeyer was the only boy qualifier, in the long jump.

"Kind of strange just to be all sprints for this year," Terry said.

Senior Taylor Leitner will make her fourth trip to state by qualifying in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 400-meter relay. Leitner has competed in five events at state, but has never medaled. Her sister, sophomore Lexy, is going in the 100 dash and 400 relay after she took 11th in the 100 and sixth in the 200 at state last year. Their parents, Brad and Mandy, were strong track athletes for the Buffs in the javelin/pole vault and sprints, respectively.

"Comes naturally," Taylor said.

Sophomore Rohey Singhateh moved to Atwood from Gambia in junior high to be near some family that has settled in Atwood. Singhateh finished seventh in the long jump last year, but qualified in the 100 and 200 dashes, 400 relay and long jump this year.

"Beginning of the (2012) year, she just didn't even know whether she wanted to be out," Terry said. "By the end of the year, yeah, she kind of liked it. She is coming into her own right now. She has got a lot of raw talent. I think if we can get it going in the right direction, she is going to be a super athlete when she is a senior."

In Gambia, Singhateh said track is not an well-known sport; soccer is the country's favorite. In Atwood, Singhateh briefly quit track in junior high, but her teammates helped her come back to the sport. She enjoys jumping and her teammates.

"Way different," Singhateh said of the two locales. "I didn't play sports there. I was very lazy. Here, they helped me and push me, so that helps a lot."

Taylor qualified in the 200 as a freshman and sophomore, but Lexy beat her often in 2012, and didn't reach state in any individual events. Before the spring started, Terry was worried that Taylor wouldn't have a good year. Instead, Taylor has ran very well, especially in the second half of the year. She won the 100 against a stacked regional field and was pleased she could go to state in a different event.

"She really has came back this year," Terry said. "... Personal motivation is a lot of it."