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Lyme, IHC athletes bring work ethic, personality to WHS team

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Audrey Schwind arrives an hour late for every track and field practice.

No, it’s not because she’s stuck in detention after school.

The Lyme senior practices and competes alongside the Watertown High School team as her small school is unable to offer a track and field program.

By the time Schwind travels a half hour from Chaumont and arrives in Watertown at 3:30 p.m., the Watertown squad is nearly an hour into its workouts.

Despite the skimpy practice sessions, Schwind has excelled in the sport and has made a positive impact on Watertown coach Robin Boomhower’s squad.

“She’s a great role model for my team and for the modified kids,” Boomhower said.

Other Lyme athletes competing this season are juniors Kimmy Collins and Erica Gardner. Gabryelle Thompson is an Immaculate Heart Central sophomore who also practices with Watertown.

Schwind is in her third season representing Lyme in track and field. Her military family arrived in the area when she was a freshman. She had been involved in cross country and track and field at her former school in New Hampshire. Because Lyme doesn’t offer cross country either, she chose soccer as her fall sport. Her mother tried to make arrangements for her to compete in track and field with another school, but it didn’t work out, and she played golf that spring instead.

As a sophomore Schwind and her sister Abbygail, who was a senior, were allowed to work out with the Watertown track team and compete for Lyme.

“I love running,” Schwind said. “I like having all the adrenaline build up and then right after a race have so much energy.”

Schwind considered herself a distance runner until Boomhower recognized her strength and speed and put her in the 400-meter hurdles.

“I never thought I would actually become a sprinter because I’ve always done distance, until she actually told me to try the 400 hurdles and now I love it, it’s my favorite event,” Schwind said.

Last season, Schwind won the 400 hurdles at the Frontier League track and field championships and captured the 100 and 400 hurdles at the Section 3 Class D meet.

Last year she qualified for sectionals in every single running event, plus the long jump.

“That’s incredibly unusual,” Boomhower said. “She’s just an amazing athlete.”

At the state qualifier, Schwind finished fifth in Division 2 in the 100 hurdles and sixth in the 400 hurdles.

Her main goal is to qualify for the state meet this year. Accomplishing that will require mastering the seventh hurdle of the 400 hurdles race. She’s faltered on that same hurdle at the open qualifier the last two years. She doesn’t have trouble clearing the hurdle but tends to land awkwardly, slowing her down. She thinks because she twisted her ankle once on that hurdle that it’s made her “freak out” over it ever since.

“I have to become best friends with that hurdle this year,” Schwind said. “Qualifying for states is going to take getting over that one hurdle, just that one, and not being scared of it.”

Schwind is also recovering from a pinched nerve in her left foot. Running hurdles hasn’t antagonized the injury as much as the long jump has.

Schwind was selected to the Times All-North first team for soccer last fall. Although she excels as a soccer player, she has chosen to compete in track and field at Utica College next fall.

“That was a hard decision,” Schwind said.

Schwind and her family have gone to a lot of effort to support her running habit.

“It’s so worth it,” Schwind said. “It’s just really fun, I love track.”

THOMPSON’S LUCKY SOCKS

When spectators see Gabryelle Thompson running on the track, the first thing they notice are her wild-looking socks.

The IHC distance runner sports a pair of bright-green knee-high socks during every race. She did the same thing during cross-country season.

Because IHC does not have cross country and track and field teams, Thompson practices with the Watertown High School squads and competes as an individual for her school.

“She’s a very hard worker, very upbeat,” Watertown coach Robin Boomhower said. “She has brought a lot of enthusiasm to my team.”

Thompson’s fashion statement has trickled down through the Watertown squad. At the Cyclones’ last meet there were six girls donning colorful socks.

Thompson’s military family moved to Fort Drum from Washington State in July. Thompson started wearing her green socks for cross-country season when she was an 8th grader at her previous school. Because she ran so well while wearing them, she considers them to be lucky.

“During last year’s track season I couldn’t find them and my times weren’t that good,” Thompson said. “I found my socks and my times got better. I don’t know if it’s just me getting stronger, but I wear them.”

Three cross-country seasons and three track seasons later, the green socks are getting rather worn out. She has limited wearing them for races in fear they won’t hold up much longer.

“My socks actually have ginormous holes in them now,” Thompson said. “They weren’t meant to be used for track and cross country. I really hope they last me through high school.”

Thompson’s best track events are the 1,500- and 3,000-meter runs. She’s seconds away from qualifying for the Section 3 open qualifier in both events and also recently ran well in her first 2,000 steeplechase.

Thompson has started wearing brightly-colored spandex tights to the track. That may be the next fashion trend to spread through the Watertown track team.

LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Frontier League track and field championships are scheduled for next week.

The boys meet is slated for 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Watertown High School. The girls meet will be held at 4 p.m. next Thursday at Carthage.





Thompson is the daughter of Mark and Kathleen Thompson.



Sportswriter Leslie Sheldon covers Frontier League sports for the Times. She may be contacted at lsheldon@wdt.net or 661-2348.

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