FORT MILL -- In his first season as the head coach of the Nation Ford High School boys track team, Victor Sanders likes what he sees.
Sanders, who works with wide receivers on the Falcons' football team, decided to transfer some of those coaching skills to the track for the team's second season and so far, he's enjoying it.
"We have an awesome group of kids this year - a great group to work with," Sanders said. "It's probably the best crew I've ever coached."
Making the transition, along with Sanders is senior Dee Truesdale, who is one of the football team's leading receivers and will compete in the long jump, high jump and triple jump.
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"He's a great athlete. He'll do what he needs to do," Sanders said about his lead jumper.
Truesdale said his training is going well so far this season and he expects to concentrate on the long jump, where his longest attempt is 21 feet, four inches.
"I'm going to try and make it to states this year, try to win it," Truesdale said.
He said training in dual sports has helped him with his explosiveness, getting off to fast starts and improved his leaping ability.
Another group off to a fast start is the 4x100 relay team, which recently turned in a time of 45.9 seconds in practice.
The state meet-winning time from last year was just under 42 seconds, a goal the team is striving for.
With three of the four members returning from last year's relay team- John Chapman, Marteka Davis and J.R. Bunch, the group is hoping to compete for the state title.
"This team looks a lot better. We have a big group of seniors," said Davis.
A strong core of runners will lead the boys distance team. Heading the group so far are senior Kevin Coleman, who was the team's top cross country runner after finishing 13th in the state championship race, sophomore Kevin Ketner, who finished seventh in the state in the mile last season, and senior Ian Wallace, who is also coming off a great cross country season, according to head girls coach Abby Beard, who works with the cross country team.
This will be Beard's second season at the helm of the girls team, and she thinks this group going into the season ready to compete with anyone.
"We have a well-rounded team. If the girls can master the potential they have, I think we could win every meet this year," Beard said.
Freshman Meredith Kilburn, who burst onto the scene last fall by placing seventh in the state in cross country, will provide a huge boost for the distance team. Beard said she is looking for a lot of points this season from sprinter Alex Land and hurdler Imani Smith, a junior who is in her first year at Nation Ford.
Smith transferred from a high school in Edinboro, Pa., a small town in the northwestern part of the state. She said she would run both the 100 and 400-meter hurdle events, as well as the 400-meter dash.
Smith's top time in the 100 hurdles, her favorite event, is 16.45 seconds.
"I want to get that down," she said. "I want to break 15.7 - that was the record at my old school."
Smith said she decided to try hurdling events because it looked fun. Although she has a small frame, she still has no trouble clearing the jumps.
"I think a lot of it has to do with my speed. I have enough momentum when I run," she said.
Smith said she is enjoying South Carolina so far, especially the winter weather, or lack of winter weather, depending on how you look at it.