There’s been a lot of travel involved for Porum senior Lexi Gines to find success and get one more shot at a state tournament berth while helping resurrect a dead track program.
Lexi is a track standout for the Porum Panthers and runs the 100 and 200-meter sprints as well as the 100 and 300-meter hurdles which are her key events. Her love for track started when her family moved from Wyoming to Warner in elementary school.
“I started running in the fifth grade at Warner because everyone had to take part in track and ever since, running has just made me feel alive when I cross the finish line,” said Gines who also ran cross country through middle school and still plays basketball. “I tried hurdles in seventh grade and wasn’t all that good, but coach (Mindi) Peters believed in me, so I just trained and got better.”
Injury kept her sidelined much of her freshman year and then she moved back to Wyoming her sophomore and junior years where she qualified for the state tournament there last year.
Gines moved back to Oklahoma this year and ended up in Porum, which did not have a track program but did have a willing coach in Michael Arnold.
“I helped coach Lexi as an assistant in basketball and towards the end of the season she approached me about track. Porum hasn’t had a track program for about five years, but she was so passionate about it that everyone involved said yes. We recently went to our first meet and Lexi medaled in her events with the best times posted so far in Class A this year.”
Lexi’s influence by example is creating an air of excitement for the Panthers.
“Her passion has helped us grow the program to about 13 athletes so far and has sparked interest in the middle school as well. I had a state qualifier in the hurdles five years ago so I’m hoping to make it two-for-two with Lexi,” laughed Arnold.
Lexi credits Peters and her mom as two main motivators for her track success and has been pleased to see the track program at Porum rejuvenated.
“I asked about getting track started here because having been to a state tournament before, I wanted one more chance to try and medal and I think there are a lot of kids who don’t want to play basketball, baseball or softball but would like another venue to show their athletic abilities and I think track is the perfect sport for that.”
Gines, who is in the National Honor Society and FCA, plans to attend the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith next year and hopes to continue her track career while studying psychology.