WINFIELD, W.Va. — Together in friendship and among the state’s best in their respective track and field events, the Hurricane trio of Audrey Barber, Lauren London and Abby Watson figure prominent roles in the team’s success.
Each of the three junior athletes — friends who play soccer, basketball and run track together — rank in the state’s top 10 in at least two events.
“They’re kind of the backbone of what we’re putting together and as of a week ago, before spring break, we were sitting pretty close to the top of the standings, and they have a lot to do with that,” Hurricane coach Jason Henley said.
At Friday’s Winfield Classic, London individually contributed 22 points to Hurricane’s second-place team finish, despite several Redskins athletes, including Barber and Watson, away for spring break. London won the long jump and placed second in the pole vault, behind Winfield’s Allie Perry. London placed fourth in the 100-meter run.
In girls AAA, London ranks second-best for the long jump and third in pole vault, according to www.runwv.com. Likewise, Barber and Watson list among the state’s best in their respective events. Barber ranks fourth in 300 hurdles, fifth for 100 hurdles and ninth in long jump, while Watson dominates the throws, as she ranks third in the shot put and seventh in discus.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity of being a part of a strong team,” London said. “We all love being out here, which makes it easy to be around each other.”
Less than a month into the season, the Hurricane girls have captured team titles at the Carlos Akers & Doc Hale Memorial Invitational and BB&T Classic. Watson said it’s been fun with her and two of her best friends playing such a role in fourth-ranked Hurricane’s success this season.
“I guess I didn’t realize what a big help we are to the team until we’ve been winning all these meets where it’s all finally coming together,” she said. “It always feels good to be contributing.”
Barber produces the bulk of her points in the hurdles, but the trio provides its greatest contribution in field events, an area much needed for any state-title contending team.
“What we talked about a lot this year was looking a lot at getting as many points as we could out of the relays, getting as many points as we could out of the hurdles and the distance events, but seeing if we could find some untapped people in the field events,” Henley said. “Not that the girls were necessarily untapped – they’ve been there the last few years – but they’re just starting to come into their own.
“You can look and see the results from last year where we were compared to this year. I don’t think we even finished up in the top 10 last season, and the girls have already been up in the top five this season. It’s made a world of difference this year with them scoring those points.”
Each of the girls contributes significantly in multiple events, too, showing great range.
“On Monday, they’re in one area working with one event group and Tuesday, they’re in another,” Henley said, “and they’re very dedicated and focused on what they need to be doing.”
While London excels in both pole vault and long jump, she said feels no preference for either.
“I love pole vault, and I enjoy the long jump a lot,” she said. “I’m actually hoping to do both in college, if I can, but I don’t think I enjoy one more than the other.”
By playing three different sports, each of the girls said they see how skills developed in one sport translate to each of the other sports in which they participate.
“I think my 300s help me in the soccer field, because having endurance is important in soccer,” Barber said.
London said others tell her they see similarity in her play.
“My basketball coach tells me I play basketball like a soccer player,” she said. “Soccer and track contribute to each other, both all around keeping me fit.”
No matter if it’s the pitch, court or track, Watson said the friends enjoy each other’s company and success.
“It’s awesome,” she said. “We all three do soccer, basketball and track. We were three of the four starting freshman in soccer and we all three started this year in basketball, and now we’re helping out on the track team, so it’s really been awesome.”