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When the mass of track and field humanity that is the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A/3-A East super regional convenes at the University of Mount Olive’s Ray McDonald, Sr. Track and Field/Lacrosse Complex on Saturday afternoon, a handful of entrants from The Wilson Times readership area will have paths to championship contention.
While the goal, at minimum, is a top-four showing and the accompanying berth to next week’s state championship meet, Hunt, Fike, Beddingfield and Southern Nash all boast potential regional champions in various events.
Coming off a sensational individual performance at last week’s Big East Conference championship, Fike junior Elijahwon Cooper enters the 3-A regional with the top seed time in the region with a clearance of 6 feet, 8 inches. Hunt senior Jeremiah Ganaway ranks second behind Cooper, at 6-6. Cooper, who also won the long jump and triple jump at the Big East meet, is eighth in the long jump and sits inside the cut line for a state berth in the triple jump with his third place seed attempt of 43-2.50.
In 2-A boys, Beddingfield senior Aaron Bland could see his workload reduced. Hailed a threat to win any event he’s entered in by boys head coach James Ward, Bland will run in the 110-meter hurdles, the 100-meter dash — where he’s ranked second behind West Craven’s Josh Moore — and will serve as the anchor leg of the Bruins’ 4x100 relay team with Johnathon Harris, Zach Adams and Travon Newsome. The quartet is seeded third in the 4x100. However, Ward termed Bland a “game-time decision” in the 200-meter dash and the 300 hurdles. Bland enters regional competition third in the 110 hurdles.
Sneaky 3-A regional championship contenders exist at Southern Nash.
Carrying the top seed into the 4x100 boys relay is the Firebirds’ quartet of senior Dae’One Wilkins, senior Kendrick Bell, junior Zonovan Knight and senior Nadir Thompson, who will play college football at Virginia Tech. The SN relay team owns the top time of 43.34, one-fifth of a second faster than Cleveland.
However, Thompson, who has not ran an exhaustive schedule in the spring, awaits as a sleeper contender in the 200, if such a label can be applied to a former state champion. In limited action, the 2016 3-A champ in the 200 is seeded second at 22.04, just one-tenth of a second behind Edward Anthony of Jacksonville White Oak.
Beddingfield senior Marcus Parker is seeded second in the 2-A triple jump with a qualifying leap of 44-9. Malcolm Dameron of Hertford County holds the top spot in the event by 19 inches at 46-4.
The Bruins will likely be without freshman distance phenom Kamare Watson in the 800 and 1,600 after Ward reported Watson sprained his ankle playing AAU basketball.
Beddingfield is also a championship threat in the 4x200 relay, seeded No. 2 with a time of 1:31.05. That trails Kinston’s quartet at 1:30.70.
On the 3-A girls side, Charles B. Aycock senior Arlanda Faulkner is third in the 100 hurdles with her seed time of 15.54.
POTENTIAL 3-A QUALIFIERS
Southern Nash will be fighting for a state berth in the 300 hurdles and 4x100 relay. Sophomore Tristian Foster is ranked fourth in the region in the girls 300 hurdles, taking a seed time of 50.74 into action. Cleveland’s Zacoriia sits just one-tenth of a second back. Foster is also part of the Ladybirds’ fifth-place 4x100 relay team alongside junior Jenira Mckoy, senior Carmen Carrigan and senior Symia McCalston. Southern takes a seed time of 50.24 into the regional, trailing the 50.04 of No. 4 Havelock.
C.B. Aycock senior Kamarion Graham, who took the No. 1 seed in the entire state into the championship meet last year only to false start in the 100-meter preliminaries, is back again. However this time, Graham is seeded in the 12th and final position at 11.14.
CBA senior Deshawn Owens, bound for Barton College, is in range in all three distance events. He’s less than 2 seconds behind Zach Tucker of D.H. Conley in the boys 800, ranks second in the 1,600 at 4:35 and is fifth in the 3,200. Owens’ biggest challenge stands to come in the 3,200, where he needs to make up more than six seconds on Wilmington New Hanover’s Tommy Fernandez (10:21.02) to qualify for the state championship in that event.
In the boys’ 300 hurdles, Southern Nash’s Wilkins is sixth at 41.54 and trails No. 4 Bogue Dick of Swansboro by half a second for a qualifying spot. Thompson, Wilkins, Knight and junior Darius Edmundson are No. 7 in the 4x200 relay, chasing the 1:31.10 of No. 4 Swansboro. The Southern Nash team needs to make up seven-tenths of a second to get into qualifying territory, according to seed times.
Fike junior Davis Nicol is six inches ahead of a four-way tie for fifth in the pole vault after posting a qualifying attempt of 11-6.
Joining Cooper in the triple jump from Fike is junior Tyreon Brown, who is seeded No. 4 at 43-0. That trails Cooper by 2.5 inches.
Hunt junior Dionte Alston is seeded seventh in the long jump, needing to get four inches on Clayton’s Romeo Stancil to crack the top four.
Southern Nash junior Ricky Knight is a solid second in the shot put, boasting a seed mark of 49-11. Ahead of him is the lofty throw of Topsail senior Adam Hart, the region’s top seed at 53-6.
Beddingfield sophomore Shamya Best is sixth in the 100 hurdles with a time of 17.39, trailing Holly Ridge Dixon’s Ashley Teilborg by .4 seconds for fourth. In the 300 hurdles, Lady Bruins freshman Ihjanae Cooper is in a battle with North Pitt’s Destiny Person for the fourth and final state qualifying spot. Cooper owns a time of 51.07, four-tenths clear of Person.
The Lady Bruins’ 4x100 quartet of senior Jayla Bullock, senior Shimega Jackson, senior Alexa Ruffin and sophomore Shakira Moody are within range of a qualifying spot, although entering with a No. 7 seed.
Ayden-Grifton is the No. 4 seed, with a time of 51.34.
Beddingfield’s Jackson is a solid third in the long jump, owning a seed leap of 16-1. Jackson finds herself within shouting distance of a regional championship in the triple jump, ranked second with a leap of 33-1. She trails Eastern Plains Conference opponent, Sarah Hicks of Nash Central, by 1.5 inches at 33-2.5.
Beddingfield sophomore Makayla Everette and SouthWest Edgecombe freshman Alonee Smallwood find themselves with state qualifying seeds to defend in the shot put. Everette is third at 33-10, with Smallwood just one inch behind at 33-9.
Everette ranks No. 5 in the discus at 94-11, seven inches back of Kinston’s Natasia Wooten for the all-important No. 4 spot.
Senior Jahkele Goins of SouthWest is No. 4 in the boys 200-meter dash at 22.43.
Greene Central sophomore Sayquan Conner is fourth in the long jump at 21-2.50.