April Warden has always had goals in her athletic career at Shady Spring.

The lanky senior has excelled in volleyball, basketball and track for the Tigers. Now headed into her final month of athletic competition at Shady, Warden is preparing for a chance to return to the state track meet May 19-20 in Charleston.

“I just need to practice hard and be there on time,” she said. “I need to give it all I’ve got at practice because the way you practice is the way you’re going to run.”

Practicing hard has never been a problem for Warden, and Shady Spring track coach Vince Culicerto says that’s what he looks for out of his senior leaders.

“Showing up at practice every day,” he said. “With track, you get a lot of things you battle with in the spring. Things that they need to be doing with school, proms and things like that. For her to show up every day and run the events that the coaches want her to run in and work hard every day in practice — she’s done that. She never misses an event or a meet.”

Warden was a member of the Tigers’ 4x400 relay squad that placed sixth last year. She also competed in the high jump, 4x100 and 4x200 but didn’t place.

This year, she has been showing well in the high jump and running as a member of the relay squads again.

“She’s a really good relay girl,” Culicerto said. “She has been for the four years that she’s been here.”

While she is strong in the 4x100, 4x200 and 4x400, Culicerto has been toying with the idea of moving her into the 400-meter dash.

“We’ve been trying to find another individual event for her,” he said. “High jump we knew was her best and she’s pretty much placed one or two all year with a fourth-place finish at the Gazettes.”

A successful move would mean a chance for the team and Warden to earn more points in the regional and state meets.

“What we’re working on is another open event that we think we can get more points in our region with,” Culicerto said. “We’ve used her in the 400 and the 100, and we feel the 400 is her best one to score on.”

The Coalfield Conference meet Tuesday at Independence was Warden’s first real test in the open 400.

“We tried her in the 400 at Nicholas,” Culicerto said. “Weather conditions weren’t very good, so we should get a good read on that today. She’s been a solid performer all year.”

Warden called her fourth-place finish in the high jump at the Gazette Relays last weekend a good measuring stick.

“Yeah, it was,” she said. “Just to see where I stand and see some of the people that I might see again in the states.”

Warden says her older sister Krystal got her interested in competitive sports.

“My sister has been the biggest influence on my sports career,” she said. “She made me want to do everything that I did. I’ve followed in her footsteps.”

While her sister was a big influence on her, they each competed in different events.

“(Krystal) didn’t high jump,” Warden said. “She long jumped, but it just so happened that I got stuck in (high jump).”

When asked what she brought to the high jump event that made her tough to beat, Warden had to think carefully about her answer.

“Athleticism,” she said. “I don’t really have steps. A lot of people use tape and stuff, and I don’t.”

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