‘It’s their home’: Cumberland athletes see 42-year streak end

Published 1:24 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

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Wednesday, April 17 marked a banner moment for Cumberland High’s athletics program. The school hosted its first track meet since 1982.
Coach Kenneth Jasey, who has been at the helm of the track program for the Dukes since 2011, was among the many thrilled to see this project long in the works come to fruition.
“It’s a great joy with tremendous pride,” Jasey said. “Now, Cumberland’s own can watch their own with a great sense of pride. To compete in front of their folks with the way the community that does support them, it’s tremendous. To not have to go somewhere else all the time and you can run in a place called home, it’s awesome.”
“I talked to a lot of old heads,” Jasey added, amazed at how long it had been since they hosted a track event. “It was a lot further than I thought and I said, ‘Whoa.’  We were always on the road, so we had to call other people’s place our home.  We’d call it our home track meet even though it was an away track meet.” 

A new project

The new seven-lane track at Cumberland – which is made accessible to the middle school and high school teams as well as the community – was under construction for years and finished last August. However, the unveiling waited because of weather and some rearrangements.  They also wanted to have stadium stands in as well.
“We didn’t want to put the cart before the horse,” commented Jasey, who added that they also have pole vaulting in place along with shot put and discus.
Another influential figure beaming about the track is Cumberland Superintendent Dr. Chip Jones.
“It was a big day for Cumberland.  We held our first home track competition in years.  We had food from local vendors.  I am always proud of our students, athletes, coaches, volunteers and the community support.  It brought me great joy to see everything ‘come together’ so our students could compete at home, families could come and watch the event without leaving Cumberland, and to see and feel the excitement.  I appreciate everyone that made this possible,” Jones stated.

Creating challenges for Cumberland

In years past, not having a home site created some challenges for Cumberland track athletes.
“When you have to drive and spend money for food after the meets versus being here when you can go right home after you finish and eat supper with your family, it’s difficult.  You’re also talking about getting back late at night, have to get back up early in the morning and go to class without missing a beat,” Jasey acknowledged. 
“Our kids were extremely determined and had a lot of mental fortitude, always believe that one day we’d have our own.  Now we do.”
With the new track, Jasey sees a difference in the athletes around school.
“A lot more pep in their step. Now, they have something to defend. It’s their home,” he noted.  “It can be more difficult for people to follow you all over the place to different locations when they get off work.  They can now go out there and really put on a show for their family and friends that are right here.”

Holding a test run

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Once the track got laid down, Cumberland High hosted a field day, running the 100-yard dash with Elementary School kids in September.  Additionally, they’re planning to start a summer program for the youth for track and field.  The track program named the Sixty West Jets is in the process of being formed. 
“It’s open to even our neighbors from Buckingham to Prince Edward, Powhatan and all around,” Jasey pointed out.
Jones is excited about the future at Cumberland.
“There are great things occurring in Cumberland County.  As we say, “it is always a good time to be a Duke!’”