Kat Conroy and Ashley Beauregard helped lead the Hornets' young squad to its first ever team championship.
As they stand in the hallways, the sounds of the pep band pierce through the cracks around the doorframe.
There, waiting, is Kat Conroy and Ashley Beauregard — the two Bishop Moore athletes everyone is waiting to see.
With students in their assigned seats in the school’s gym, there is a lively energy throughout the packed crowd that seems unaware that it’s eight o’clock in the morning.
After stepping out to mid-court, Principal Scott Brogan kicked off the pep rally in full voice.
“Last year, we were fortunate enough to have a state champion in two events and team runner-up,” Brogan said. “With the addition of another athlete, we are team state champions with three individual championships.”
The announcement was met with loud applause, but it was the introduction of Conroy and Beauregard that sent the roof down.
As they rolled out from the hallway and into the gym, Conroy and Beauregard both were met by a wall of pure sound as their classmates yelled their names and cheered them on.
It was a big moment for these young athletes and those such as Bishop Moore track coach Carolista Ware.
“Every day, they came out and they worked hard,” Ware said to the crowd. “They wanted to do this not just for themselves because this is our first-ever adapted track-and-field state championship.”
CLAIMING THE CROWNS
Going into this year’s state tournament, the only member on the team with any experience was 16-year-old sophomore Beauregard — who was coming off a phenomenal year where she won first in both the 200- and 800-meter races.
Despite her soft-spoken and humble nature, there was still a level of surprise when, at this year’s state finals, she once again took home the top prize in the 200 meters (45.31) and 800 meters (3:28.71)— while also taking second in the shot-put.
“I was still in shock with it, even though I knew I could do it,” Beauregard said. “Of course I’ve done this before, so I know what it is kind of like because I did this last year too — that kind of helped me.
“My freshman year I didn’t even think I could do this, and then that (state titles) happened,” she said. “Now sophomore year — I can’t believe it’s already here again.”
Although Conroy’s story is a little bit different — as she moved to Florida from her home in Indiana three years ago — the reaction was still the exact same.
In her first and only year of being a part of the young adapted track-and-field team at Bishop Moore, the 18-year-old Conroy followed right behind Beauregard with a second-place finish in the 200 meters (59.22) and 800 meters (4:34.84). She also managed to best her teammate by winning the state title in the shot-put.
“I can’t believe I did this, because I was able to walk and run before eighth grade — I never thought I would win a state championship,” Conroy said. “I got casted the summer going into eighth grade to change the position of my foot — it threw my balance off course.”
Although both Beauregard and Conroy use the usual electric wheelchairs throughout their day, on the track, they utilize specialty tricycles powered by hand.
For Beauregard there was relative ease, since she had been using them before, but for Conroy there was a lot of practice involved to get use to the new machine.
And although some might think that the practices would be a bit different for adapted athletics, they would be wrong, Ware said.
“They do very similar workouts as the rest of the athletes,” Ware said. “If the athletes are working on starting blocks, then they (Beauregard and Conroy) are starting on their blocks for their 200 or 800. If they’re doing 300 that day, then these guys are doing 300s that day.”
The practice routine set into place by Ware and her assistant coaches have developed has been both a fun and educational process for a team that’s only in its second year of existence.
“It was all new to us — none of us had ever coached adaptive track and field before, so we wing it a little bit,” Ware said with a laugh.
Bringing home individual and team state titles by simply “winging it” implies that whatever Ware and her assistants are doing, they’re doing it the right way, and there is sure to be more titles in the future.
Although with Conroy graduated with her fellow seniors Monday, May 21, at CFE Arena, the adapted track-and-field team will look to Beauregard to continue leading the way.
“It turns out that this has been the best thing that could have ever happened to me,” Conroy said. “Bishop Moore is such a welcoming community — I love all my friends here, and I don’t want to leave them. Leaving my friends here at Bishop Moore is harder than leaving my home of 14 years.”