LISBON — Finding new or flowery superlatives to describe leaders of a track program that has swept seven consecutive conference championship meets is a rigorous test of any coaching staff’s vocabulary, institutional memory and creativity.

Still, the Lisbon braintrust has no trouble assigning those labels to Kayla Angelico and Aaron Halls.

It would be enough that Angelico is seeded to score the maximum 40 points in Thursday’s Mountain Valley Conference meet at Cony HIgh School in Augusta.

“Kayla’s one of the top three javelin throwers we’ve ever had,” offered Dean Hall, the Greyhounds’ longtime coach.

“Top three? She set the school record,” chimed in Hank Fuller, Hall’s right-hand man and coach of Lisbon’s successful cross country program.

Halls is one of the top three seeds in each of his four MVC events.

Again, that could speak for itself, and the athlete’s personal preference is to let the times, heights and distances do the talking. But Halls’ coaches have no problem assigning him a place in Lisbon lore, either.

“Aaron is our most respected athlete ever in spring track,” Fuller offered.

Assistant coach Dan Sylvester raised the bar.

“He’s the most respected kid in the school,” he said.

Not hard to understand why the Lisbon girls are a prohibitive favorite to make it an Elite Eight when the league trophy is handed out Thursday evening, or why the boys — with an anticipated challenge from Hall-Dale — have a strong chance to do the same.

“I’m pumped. I’m excited,” Angelico said. “I’m ready to take on anybody who tries to get in our way.”

That attitude doesn’t surprise her coaches.

In addition to Angelico’s prowess in the javelin — her current distance ranks second in the state, regardless of class — she is the first female 300-meter hurdler from Lisbon in three decades to finish the race in under 50 seconds.

That, while training exclusively on Lisbon’s dirt track and then competing on synthetic surfaces.

“We’ve tried different things with her. She wasn’t a miler. We needed her athletic ability in one of the toughest races of all time, which is the 300 hurdles,” Hall said. “She went to states last year and she’s in the top three right now in Class C.”

Angelico’s 4×400 and 4×800 relay squads also are favored to win.

None of the accolades or expectations seem to have an impact on Angelico, who has thrived in the sport since she was 10 years old.

“I don’t think people realize it takes a lot of mental thought to do this,” she said. “It’s not like we’re just running around in circles. We really push ourselves and motivate ourselves to do the best we can.”

Halls anchors the boys’ title hopes with his strength in the 100, 200, 4×100 and long jump.

He has helped fill the shoes of 2012 graduate and conference and state champion Morgan Reeves in the latter event.

“I kind of always wanted to get up there with him,” said Halls, who finished seventh in long jump and second in the 4×100 relay at Class C states a year ago. “Being a leader, you always want to set a good example and make sure you’re doing everything right.”

By all the evidence, Halls goes above and beyond in that department.

“If you watch him at the beginning of a race, he’s shaking every kid’s hand,” Hall said.

“He’s such a genuine, honest, straight-forward kid,” Fuller added. “And it’s not phony. What you see is literally what you get.”

What the Greyhounds get at their final two meets of the season will be built on the foundation of their two esteemed seniors.

That’s OK with them.

“It really pushes me even harder knowing this is the last time I’m ever going to do track, so I want to give it my best,” Angelico said. “We know it’s not going to be handed to us. I think we’re all ready.

“They’re special kids,” Coach Hall said. “We saw them at a middle school track meet when they were in eighth grade and we thought, ‘Whoa.’ They’ve done everything we wanted this year.”

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: