Mount Vernon Academy has much-improved indoor and outdoor athletic facilities at new Murray campus
Oct 04, 2017 09:21AM
● By Carl Fauver
Andy Pan, Jesse Montoya, Coach Wes Lambson and Shumin Boa (L-R) are busy this fall with cross country for Mount Vernon Academy, the school’s first team to operate out of the private school’s new campus. (Carl Fauver)
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Murray’s 42-year-old Mount Vernon Academy has moved seven blocks south, half a block east…and light years ahead, when it comes to the Patriots’ athletic facilities.
The quaint private school with just 80 students has shifted from its old Vine Street campus—an aging church and library building—to the more spacious former Christ Lutheran Church School, constructed much more recently in 1992.
“I honestly think we could double our student population in just a few years,” Principal Mike Lambson said. “We have much more classroom space here and the building is much newer and more functional. The improved air conditioning system alone makes it much nicer.”
Perhaps most significantly, with the move to 240 E. 5600 South in Murray, the Patriots will now be able to play their first, truly “home” basketball games.
“We had a tiny gym (at the old campus) that really wasn’t even big enough to hold a decent practice,” Lambson added. “But this new campus has a huge gymnasium and even balcony seating for our fans. That first home game this winter is really going to be exciting.”
Before the weather forces Mount Vernon athletes indoors, the Patriots first team to operate out of the new school is practicing outdoors. But it’s not the team Lambson has coached for years. Instead, it’s a different sport, with his brother Wes calling the shots.
“We’re never sure from year to year which sports our students will be interested in,” Lambson added. “But for more than 40 years one team we have always fielded is a fall baseball team… until this year.”
Lambson shares that with a little melancholy in his voice, because he was a standout Patriots baseball player soon after his parents opened the school in 1975. He’s also coached the team for 12 years.
“We surveyed our students last spring and there was just not enough interest for a baseball team,” he said. “But we are adding a team this fall, because last year we had only a boys’ cross country team, while this year we have boys and girls running.”
Like the basketball teams coming in a few months, the Mount Vernon Academy students also have a improved practice area at the new campus. In a nutshell: lots more grass.
“We can train here (at the new campus) and also at Murray Park, where we will host our home meets,” said Coach Wes Lambson.
In fact, Mount Vernon will host the Class 1A Region 22 final meet at Murray Park, where top finishers will qualify for the state finals.
On the boy’s side, Lambson has good news and bad news for this year’s cross country team. The bad news is, Brody Peery has transferred to Summit Academy charter school in Draper. Last year he was the Patriots’ only cross country runner to qualify for the state finals, placing third in region.
But the good news is, with the demise of the baseball team this fall, one of Mount Vernon’s top all-around athletes is shifting to cross country.
“My favorite sport is actually basketball,” sophomore Jesse Montoya said. “So I really only played baseball to stay in shape for that. Now, instead of baseball, I’ll run cross country to prepare for winter. That may turn out to be even better for me than baseball was.”
The only returning boy from last year’s Mount Vernon cross country team is Andy Pan, who was born and raised in China until coming to the Murray school a year ago.
“My goal is just to improve on my best time (from last season) and hopefully qualify for state,” he said.
On the girls’ side, another athlete from China is also leading the team. Like Pan, Shumin Bao is a senior and in her second year at Mount Vernon Academy.
Principal Lambson said all of the students, parents and faculty seem to be thrilled with Mount Vernon Academy’s new campus, which is now being leased from Christ Lutheran Church.
“We may like to buy it outright someday,” he said. “But we aren’t discussing that right now.”
As for the old Vine Street campus, Lambson said the three-acre site should be sold soon. Developers have told him they plan to tear down the old church building, but refurbish the library to create a senior assisted living center.