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The journey to a track and field state championship for area athletes will make a pit stop at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association regionals this weekend.
The 3-A East Regional will take place at Franklinton High on Saturday, a day after the school hosts the 2-A Mideast Regional, while the 2-A East Regional will be at Fike on Saturday.
At stake is a trip to the NCHSAA state championship meets in Greensboro the following week with the top four finishers in each regional event advancing.
Among the top contenders for a regional championship is Hunt High senior Dionte Alston. Alston became the first ever indoor track and field individual state champion from Hunt in February with a jump of 23 feet, 5.5 inches at the NCHSAA 3-A championship meet. The senior jumper enters Saturday’s meet with the longest jump in the NCHSAA this spring at 23-6 and as the top seed in the 3-A East’s triple jump with a 45-7. Alston is also a part of Hunt’s 4x100-meter relay team that sits at third heading into the regionals with a time of 43.14 seconds.
Alston’s biggest competitors for the regional title could be teammate Clarence Ward or Fike senior Elijahwon Cooper. Ward is two spots behind Alston in the triple jump with a 44-4 leap. Ward is fifth in the long jump seeding at 22-1. Cooper, who won the 2018 East Regional high jump with a career-best 6-10, is currently tied for third place in the high jump with a 6-6 leap and is in the final qualifying spot for the long jump and triple jump with 22-2 and 43-2.5, respectively.
Outside of the jumpers, Fike’s Davis Nicol enters with the highest pole vault at 12-7, an inch higher than Southern Nash’s Trysten Roberson.
Ricky Knight of Southern Nash will go into the shot put at third with a 50-4 throw.
In the 3-A East girls meet, among the best bets to qualify for the state meet are Hunt’s Jada Carpenter, who is tied for the second spot in the high jump at 5-4, and Southern Nash’s Tristian Foster, who goes into the 300 hurdles with the second-best time of 47.94 seconds.
In the 2-A East Regional at Fike, Beddingfield junior Makayla Everett has the best discus throw at 116-3. Everett also is fourth in the shot put with a 34-2, while SouthWest Edgecombe’s Alonee Smallwood is one spot ahead of her with a 34-3 shot.
Ihjanae Cooper from Beddingfield has the third-fastest time in the 300 hurdles at 51.04 seconds.
SouthWest Edgecombe, the 2-A Eastern Plains Conference boys champion, has a pair of relay teams eyeing regional titles. The Cougars’ 4x200 tandem of Jamari Staton, Jarquez Dickens, Tayshaun Pittman and Cortezz Jones go into the regionals with the top seed at 1:30.36 seconds. SouthWest’s 4x100 quartet of Demari Mabry, Jelan Smith, Pittman and Staton have the second-best time at 43.86.
Gregory Daniels from Greene Central has the third-longest shot put throw in the boys 2-A East with a 49-5.
North Johnston, a member of the Eastern Plains Conference, will compete in the 2-A Mideast Regional instead of the East. The Lady Panthers’ Tatiana Powell enters second in the girls 100 and 200 dashes with times of 12.64 and 26.13, respectively.