Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
Glenn Reaves has fond memories of the time he and Scott Jones spent in preparation for The Wilson Daily Times Track Classic, which he and Jones co-founded as track coaches at Fike High in 1991.
“Back then I was a single guy and we would spend hours seeding the meet and preparing the track and painting things,” Reaves recalled in a Sunday telephone conversation.
Then after the meet was over, a celebration for the coaches from Fike and some of the other teams would ensue at Reaves’ “bachelor pad.”
It’s those memories that remain vivid in Reaves’ mind of Jones, who died in February at the age of 50. They first met when Jones was a senior at Fike and Reaves was a first-year track coach in 1986. That friendship continued over the years with Jones serving as a volunteer track coach and, years later, as an English teacher at Beddingfield when Reaves was principal.
Just as Reaves and Jones conceived of the idea of a major meet in Wilson and sought the sponsorship of the Times, Reaves came up with another idea — renaming the Classic after Jones.
“It was important to me that Scott be remembered,” said Reaves. “A perfect way to remember Scott would be to name the Times meet after him.”
Jones, who was a freelance photographer for the Times up until shortly before he died, remained connected to the Classic. He served as meet director for several years and always was on hand to take photographs.
Thus, the Wilson Times Track Classic will be known henceforth as the Scott Jones Memorial Classic as presented by The Wilson Times. The 26th edition of the meet will be held Monday, April 16, at Southern Nash High, which will be hosting for the eighth time but first since 2006. The meet is set to begin at noon with the field events; however, the chance of heavy rain Sunday night could force postponement to Monday, April 30. There will be a $7 admission charge for this year’s Classic.
In addition to the host Firebirds and Ladybirds, the teams competing will be Beddingfield, Fike, Hunt, Community Christian, Wilson Christian, Nash Central, Greene Central, SouthWest Edgecombe and Kinston.
The meet has undergone very few changes since it began in 1991. It’s a relay-heavy event with distance and sprint relays joining the traditional four — 4x100-meter, 4x200, 4x400 and 4x800. The only open track events are 100 dash, 110 hurdles (100 for girls) and 1,600.
The idea to create a meet was borne from the desire to have something in Wilson instead of traveling to participate in big meets, as well as to showcase Fike’s track facility, Reaves said.
“We modeled it at that time after what Apex did,” Reaves said. “There’s a meet called the Apex Relays. Kids get excited about relays and that’s something we always enjoyed about going to Apex.”
One relay that Reaves and Jones, who coached throws at Fike, came up with — the weight relay — has also endured. Still a nonscoring event, it involves throwers, usually the biggest athletes on the team, running a 4x100 relay strictly for fun.
“That really started as kind of a fun add-on at the end,” Reaves said. “It’s just something we used to do at dual meets just as a way to give kids something to have fun and do something different.”
The coed relay — a 4x100 with two males and two females on each quartet — was added as a scoring event in 2012 by Beddingfield head coach James Ward, who has served as meet director since 2008.
Nash Central will be going for its third straight girls championship at the Classic while Hunt and Kinston shared the boys title in 2017, making it the fourth straight year the defending boys champion did not repeat. Hunt coach Rusty Boyette hopes his Warriors can halt that trend.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Boyette said. “Obviously, every year you lose some kids to graduation and we’ve lost a couple of good ones, but our teams as big as it’s ever been. I think we’ve got some guys and girls who can contend for some spots and we’re looking to defend on the boys side.”
The Warriors will be led by seniors Dionte Alston and Renzo Cieza, both of whom are entered in four events. Senior Jeremiah Ganaway, who tied a Times meet record last year when he cleared 6 feet, 8 inches in the high jump, will return in that event and compete in some relays as well.
For the Lady Warriors, who finished second behind Nash Central last year, distance runner Isabelle Reed and thrower India Barfield lead the way. Barfield is the latest in a series of throwers produced by Hunt throws coach Andy Ray, who coached Hunt state champions Trevor Kyle and Nakeisha Jones.
“Coach Ray is the main reason why our throws program is where it’s at. Without him, I don’t think it would be in the conversation,” Boyette said.
Beddingfield, which hasn’t won either team title since sweeping the 2015 Classic, has several potential event winners, including senior Aaron Bland, who will run the 100 dash and 110 hurdles. Also expected to produce points for the Bruins are Zach Adams, Johnathan Harris, Travon Newsome, Zy’Ree Wilder, Kamare Watson and Marcus Parker.
The Lady Bruins will look to Shimega Jackson, Shakira Moody and Alexa Ruffin for points.
Fike coach Sonny West doesn’t think either the Golden Demons or Lady Demons will finish first but thinks both squads should earn their share of points.
“I’ve got a good group of kids,” he said. “I think we’ll score a few points. I don’t see us being champions but we’ve got a solid group.”
Junior Elijahwon Cooper is a contender in the boys high jump as well as long and triple jumps, along with senior Brandon Atkinson in the latter two. Tyreon Brown, back from an injury, soared over 40 feet in the triple jump last spring.
For the Lady Demons, West thinks Nirrya Foster and Kiya Richardson are strong bets to score in the sprints while Ashleigh Sage should do well in the high jump.
Southern Nash coach Brian Rice is without fellow coach Brian Batchelor, who stepped away from his track duties this season. Sterling Leonard is coaching the Ladybirds while Kenneth Jones, Kwamaine Battle and Sue Phillips are also helping out.
Rice, now in his 12th coaching track at Southern Nash, said with 2016 state 200 champion Nadir Thompson is not running this spring as the Virginia Tech football signee tries to recover from injuries sustained during football season, the Firebirds might be strongest in throws with Ricky Knight and Donovan Thompson leading the way. Still, Southern Nash should be a contender in the sprint relays.
Rice is also excited about having the chance to host the Scott Jones Memorial Classic.
“I think it’s great for people to come out to our place,” Rice said. “We have some great facilities and (athletic director) Robbie (Kennedy) and some of the other coaches take great care of them.”