For a handful of performers from Wilson Times readership-area schools, their performance Saturday in the 3-A meet at the North Carolina HIgh School Athletic Association 2-A/3-A East Regional super-meet at Fike gave them a chance to handle some unfinished business.
Hunt senior Zach Farmer ensured that he would have one more shot at winning a state 3-A title in either the discus or the shot put — or both — by winning the former and placing fourth in the latter to earn a state meet berth. Meanwhile, fellow Hunt thrower Nakeisha Jones will be able to defend her NCHSAA 3-A girls discus crown after winning that event Saturday. Jones added to her largesse by qualifying for the shot put with a third-place finish, setting school records in both events.
Southern Nash senior Jaquay MItchell, who has had the top 3-A boys triple jump this season, followed up with a regional title in that event to go along with a runner-up spot in the long jump.
Firebirds sophomore Nadir Thompson, who was second in the state 3-A championship in the 200-meter dash last year, will return to the NCHSAA championships as the 3-A East champion in the 200. Thompson will compete in four events in the NCHSAA 2-A/3-A championships Friday on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Thompson and Mitchell were joined by Dae’One Wilkins and substitute Lamont Strickland on the 4x400 relay that finished fourth while the Firebirds 4x200 unit of Wilkins, Zonovan Knight, Chris Lucas and Thompson also placed fourth and secured a state meet berth.
“I’m really proud of the guys. They did some really great things,” Southern Nash coach Brian Rice said after his team placed third behind winner Jacksonville and runner-up Richlands in the boys team standings.
Farmer, who entered with the top seed in the shot put and discus, repeated as regional king in the discus with a throw of 160 feet, 5 inches. That was more than five feet less than his personal-record toss of 167-8, set at The Wilson Times Track Classic at Fike on March 21.
“I liked how discus went,” remarked Farmer. “A few feet off my PR, but not bad.”
Shot put was a little more problematic for the East Carolina University recruit. Farmer heaved two impressive shots, but both were out of bounds. With one throw remaining in the first round, Farmer made sure he could advance.
“We did a safe throw to get him into finals and he did and then he came back and popped one that he really had to have on his final throw,” Hunt throws coach Andy Ray said.
Farmer, who entered with the top seed throw of 54-9, settled for 51-0 and fourth place, but good enough to make the trip to Greensboro. He will have familiar competition from the Big East Conference there in the shot as Fike’s Alex Williams was second while Rocky Mount’s Sherrod Greene won with a PR toss of 57-1.
Williams, in particular, was happy to qualify for the state meet. A year ago, he entered the 3-A East Regional as the top seed and failed to produce a regulation throw.
“I think I got a little big-headed because I was the No. 1 thrower in 3-A,” Williams said. “But this time, I had to just focus on the little things.”
Williams actually led the event but Greene, who completed his finals throws later because he was involved in a running event, overtook him.
“I was surprised because of the way his technique is but he’s such a strong individual that he was able to do it,” Williams said.
Williams will be joined at the state meet by Fike teammate Elijahwon Cooper, a freshman who surpassed his PR by two inches to finish third in the high jump with a 6-0 clearance.
Williams said he knew the freshman “had it in him,” even though Cooper hadn’t gone more than 5-10.
C.B. Aycock’s Jarius Hinnant was fourth in the high jump, also clearing 6-0. He is the Golden Falcons’ only state qualifier.
Hunt senior Marcus Medina-Artis narrowly missed qualifying in the boys 200, finishing fifth in 22.84 seconds, which was a hundred of second slower than fourth-place Rashaed Whittington of Jacksonville. However, Medina-Artis had already secured passage to Greensboro by taking fourth in the 400 dash with a season-best time of 49.48 seconds.
Hunt’s Jones repeated as regional discus queen but did so with a career-long throw of 120-3, a foot more than her state championship-winning throw in 2015, that came on her last throw of finals.
“I ain’t going to lie, I gave up the past couple of throws but this last one, it surprised me!” she said of her winning toss, which also stands as a Hunt record. “I told my mom, let’s go home, I don’t even want to throw anymore. She told me it’s your last throw, calm down, concentrate, and I just forgot everything. It was (like) nobody’s here and I surprised myself! I was like wow!”
Jones, who was the only area competitor to qualify for the state 3-A girls meet, placed third in the shot put but her heave of 36-0 also set a school mark.
“She may be nervous but I’ve never seen it,” Ray said. “She says she is but she is a cool customer.”
The coolest customer might have been Southern Nash’s Mitchell. He entered with the No. 1 triple jump among the NCHSAA 3-A ranks with a 47-9.5 that he set at the Times Track Classic. He didn’t quite get there, producing a best of 47-3, but he served notice that he is going to be the triple jumper to beat in Greensboro.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can do,” Mitchell said. “If I do the best I can do, usually, hopefully, I’m going to win, so I just try to outdo everybody else that’s coming in.”
Mitchell also entered with the top seed in long jump at 22-4.5 but could only muster a 21-4. Triton’s Isaiah Bryant won the competition with a leap of 21-9.25.
“I wish I had won the long jump but, hey, I’m going to states next week,” Mitchell said.
So is teammate Thompson, who blazed to victory in the 200, the event in which he missed out on a state title by a hundredth of a second last year. Thompson ran it in 22.34 seconds, which wasn’t his fastest time of the season. He was third in the 100 in 11.17, .13 seconds behind winner Blake Hartsfield of Eastern Wayne.
“He wants to win everything he does,” Rice said of Thompson.
The Firebirds finished fourth in the 4x200 but it came at a price when senior Chris Lucas tweaked his hamstring. That injury threatened Southern Nash’s shot at qualifying in the 4x400 but Rice and fellow Firebirds coach Brian Batchelor inserted Strickland and the quartet matched the team’s best time of the season with a fourth-place finish in 3:26.46.
“Chris getting hurt but us in a bind but we had guys step up, which is a neat thing,” Rice said.