SPORTS HEADLINES

Unbeaten run: 2 of the 3 Paradise relays head into district meet undefeated

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Taylor Richards quickly points out the key for the Paradise Lady Panthers, success this spring.

“We like winning,” the sophomore said.

On the track, the Lady Panthers have experienced more than their fair share of wins this spring, especially in the relays. In fact, they are undefeated this year in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays. In the 4×400, they’ve lost just once at Boyd to Alvord.

Near Perfect

NEAR PERFECT – The three Paradise relay teams that include Carressa McCasland, Taylor Richards, Mikeala Beck, Aliyah Read, Bailey Sides, Makala Neighbors and Kyndall McCasland have lost just one race this season. The teams will try to bring home three gold medals Friday at the District 9-2A meet in Boyd. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“That just motivated us more,” said Mikeala Beck. “We came back and asked for the a hard workout after that.”

Friday at the District 9-2A meet at Boyd, the Lady Panthers are hoping to add to their impressive medal collection and sweep the relays. District 9-2A starts Thursday with field events and prelims beginning at 9 a.m. The meet will conclude Friday with the running finals starting at 5 p.m.

“They are ready for Thursday and Friday,” said Paradise coach Johna Ford. “They are a pretty athletic group that has worked hard. We’ve been fortunate to not have any injuries.”

The sprint relay squad of Kyndall McCasland, Bailey Sides, Richards and Beck is 5-0 heading into district. The team’s best time is 50.9.

So far, the squad has ran off and left the competition at every meet. Beck said at one meet a photographer couldn’t get another team in the same shot as Paradise because it was so far out front.

“We try not to take it for granted,” Beck said about the success.

“We like competition,” Kyndall McCasland said.

The team even gets competitive with itself during workouts.

“Even in practice we compete with each other,” said the group’s lone senior Bailey Sides.

That competition helps push everyone through grueling workouts.

“We don’t let each other have bad days,” Beck said.

The 4×200 relay squad that includes Carressa McCasland, Sides, Richards and Aliyah Read is also 5-0.

“We’ve never come close to losing,” Read said.

The team’s best time is 1:49.

“Coach thinks this is our best chance for state,” said Sides, who runs on all three relays.

The quartet knows they can run faster than the 1:49.

“With more competition, we can push ourselves to go faster,” Carressa McCasland said.

At their most recent race in Boyd, the squad won by more than a second despite less-than-stellar handoffs.

“Our handoffs were awful, and we still blew everyone away,” Sides said.

On the 4×400, Sides and Read are joined by senior Makala Neighbors and Beck. Sides and Neighbors are four-year veterans of the mile relay.

“I love it. It’s my favorite,” Neighbors said.

Sides added: “It’s so hard. You’ve got to have a big heart to run it.”

The mile relay has improved by 10 seconds in the past few weeks and expect to give Alvord a run for the gold this week.

But aside from winning medals at every meet, all the relays, along with the athletes in many individual events, the main goal is now to break their coach’s school records.

“We want to break her records,” Read said.

Which Ford doesn’t mind her records at Paradise falling.

“They are made to be broken,” she said.

The Lady Panthers don’t want their current string of wins broken.

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