Riverdale runners headed to colllege

By Jeffery Armstrong

The Riverdale Raider track athletes have been champions in their respective events n now they will try to be champs at the next level.

Six Raider track and field athletes signed track scholarships to various universities Thursday. One athlete, Danica West, was not present.

Nicole Rodrigues signed with the University of Central Florida; Antwann Carson, RaDonye Douglas and Orian Venson all signed with Albany State University and Lydell Perry signed with Clemson University. West, who threw the shot put and discus, signed with Florida A&M University.

Riverdale boys head coach Lonnie White, who's known all the signees since they were in the eighth grade, said he became very emotional seeing them sign scholarship letters.

"I've laughed with these kids, joked with them and given them my last dime," White said. "All of them have potential to do great things. I hate to see them go, but I know they have to move on."

Rodrigues, who set the 2003 county record in the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 14.99, plans to major in Forensic Science at UCF.

"I'm excited; UCF was one of the few schools that had my major," she said. "I'll be a little ways from home, but I don't think I'll miss it that much."

Perry, who placed fourth in the state in the 110 meter hurdles, said he was ready to go to Clemson, especially since it was "far from home." He also said he liked the facilities and the Clemson coaches and has some big plans when he arrives on campus.

"I plan on winning the ACC and then placing in the nationals," said Perry.

Carson and Venson both chose Albany State because the coaches there made them feel like they were at home. Both will compete in the pole vault, which is Venson's specialty. Venson, who plans to major in Automotive Engineering, is a three-time county champion in the pole vault. He vaulted 12 feet at the 2003 county championships.

Carson, who plans to major in Sports Management, will also compete on the 4x100 relay team.

Douglas, who will major in Accounting, had a chance to accept a wrestling scholarship to Southern Illinois University, but decided on Albany State instead.

"It was tough , but the thought of running track at Albany State made me feel more comfortable. It was closer to home and I liked the environment on campus," said Douglas.

Douglas' proud mother Fredricka Douglas-Carson said her oldest son was deserving of his scholarship.

"He's worked hard, he's studied hard and I've never had a problem with him," said Douglas-Carson, known at Riverdale as ?Momma D.' "I'm happy with his decision."