As a senior, Courtney Gordon understands that taking on a leadership role is an unwritten rule of her membership with the Vandalia High School girls track team.
Therefore, it’s a good thing, as she puts it, that, “I like being in charge.”
And she has certainly taken charge to lead by example.
Gordon has been a staple in four events this season, regularly placing in the long jump, 100-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles, while also running a leg on a successful 4X100-meter relay team.
“She is a key link right now as far as what she does (on the track) and in her leadership,” said coach Mike Travelstead. “She is really attempting to provide some solid leadership.”
At Breese Central last Monday, Gordon said she helped fill out the team’s lineup, and in doing so, she rearranged the order of the 4X800-meter relay and helped it drop to a season-best time.
She also rearranged the order of the 4X100-meter relay team.
Placing herself at the third leg, and moving freshman Randi Evans from third to first and sophomore Macey Dokey from first to second, helped the team drop its time to 57.8 seconds, which was then a season-best.
“I like doing the relays,” Gordon said. “We’ve cut down a bunch of seconds already in the 4X1.”
So far, the team’s best time of the season is 56.8 seconds, which it recorded at Hillsboro.
For the rest of her events, however, Gordon’s focus has to be on herself and her own performance.
Travelstead said he can see that Gordon is more fixated on success this year and believes she can meet some of her season goals in her individual events.
“The last two years, she was just doing her stuff, and you didn’t really see much intensity,” Travelstead said. “You see that intensity this year.
“I don’t know what it is (that’s changed her), but I wish I did, because I’d bottle it and sell it.”
One of Gordon's goals is to leap close to 16 feet in the long jump. Her personal best is 14 feet, 6 inches, and while her season-best is just 14 feet, 2 inches, she is confident that over the next few weeks, she will improve.
“If I get my steps right, I know I can get over 15,” she said, “but I want to get to almost 16.”
Given that she was also a cheerleader for Vandalia, was enrolled in tumbling classes as a child and had a trampoline, it’s no surprise that Gordon excels in an event that require participants to jump.
She’s not as good in the hurdles, but she has placed in all four outdoor meets this season.
“It all comes natural, because all year long, I’m doing stuff with jumping,” Gordon said. “I’m fading out of the hurdle thing, but I really like long jump.”
Her next leap, both in life and literally, may come at Lake Land College.
Gordon plans to attend there for the next two years, possibly continuing her cheerleading career.
After that, she hopes to transfer to Eastern Illinois University to pursue a degree in elementary education.