By Jeff Nations
Dick Krol will be the first to tell you -- he's been one spoiled track and field coach the last few years.
For the past few years, the Generals have rolled out a number of first-rate athletes topped by last year's outstanding duo of Dylan Shirley and John-Michael Pirtle. Shirley is now competing collegiately in track and field at Kent State, and Pirtle is doing the same at Virginia. The fact that neither are wearing Stonewall Jackson jerseys hasn't gone unnoticed by anyone in the Shenandoah District, that's for certain.
"We've had a luxury for four years," Krol said. "It wasn't just that crew. We've had others who filled in. We had Shirley and Pirtle, and when they were freshmen we won the 4x400 relay. From then on, it was just a glorious ride. I mean, good gosh, those kind of guys can make a coach look good. And they did."
The Generals don't have anyone comparable to the likes of Shirley and Pirtle as they head into Thursday's Shenandoah District meet at East Rockingham. Stonewall Jackson lost nearly all the key contributors from last season's Group A state champion boys team, either through graduation or injury. The best of the lot figured to be Derek Smith, a 400-meter specialist who also figured heavily into Stonewall's relays.
Smith has been sidelined by injury, and Krol wasn't sure late last week whether or not he'd be back to bolster the team.
"If he's out, we're really in trouble," Krol said. "We really don't have a stud. We don't have anybody that we can say right now is going to score in something."
Krol figures meet host East Rockingham is probably the team to beat in the boys competition. Other than Smith, the Generals' best hopes for high district finishes in the boys meet include distance runner Andrew Roy and middle distance runners Jeremiah Hines and Will Sterner.
The girls present more possibilities for the Generals, with talented middle distance/jumpers Ashton Davis and Christina Dinges solid possibilities to pick up serious points at the district level. Those two also factor heavily in Stonewall's relays, which picked up first-place finishes in both the 400- and 1,600-meter relays at last week's Shenandoah County meet.
Stonewall also has a solid performer in junior Amanda Dotson, who won both hurdles events at last week's county meet.
Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com>