Girls county track preview
The Rowan County girls track and field championships will not boast a defending state champion, as the boys meet will in North Rowan. But headlined by Salisbury sprinter Jaleesa Smoot, West Rowan distance runner Rebecca Parker and East Rowan jumper Shenique Pharr, there will be plenty of intense competition in Granite Quarry on Tuesday. With defending champions South Rowan having suffered greatly from graduation, the door is cracked open for a balanced West Rowan…unless the Cougars of Carson or the Mustangs of East can steal the crown.
Rick Roseman’s lady Mustangs might be the biggest threat to West Rowan. Though they lack the star power of Salisbury’s Jaleesa Smoot, they are solid across the board.
If the Mustangs are to stage an insurgency, it will likely begin on the field, where they are likely the strongest team in the county in the high jump. Brittany Small, Melissa Greene and Jocelyn Lowe are all potential point scorers in that event. Lowe will join with Haley Gardner and Elizabeth Martin to form a potent trio in the discus, while Gardner and Melonye McCree will attempt to pry away points from three powerful Falcon throwers in the shot put. In the jumps, it is all Shenique Pharr, who may well be the county’s best in the triple jump.
Pharr will take some of that explosive talent to the track, where she and teammate Zaria Houston will try to catch Falcons Khaila Hall (in the 100), Hannah Landy and Shay Steele (in the 200), not to mention Smoot. The Mustangs will also need great efforts from Faith Blume (800, 1600), Leah Bumby (3200), and Kayla Myers (100 hurdles, 300 hurdles) if they hope to pull off a win.
If there is a favorite for the county crown, it is Brittany Chester’s West Rowan Falcons. The reason is simple. On paper, it’s hard to find an event without at least one Falcon in contention to win.
In the 100, that Falcon is the freshman speedster Khaila Hall. In the 200, it will be the dynamic duo of Hannah Landy and basketball star Shay Steele. Brienna Owens will join Landy and Steele in the 400, the event where West Rowan might be deepest. Outside of Salisbury’s Jaleesa Smoot, West has an outside chance of finishing 2-3-4. Owens and Hannah Allison will handle the 800, while Allison will team with Emily Goddard to threaten in the 1600.
Perhaps the most significant addition to Chester’s team is Rebecca Parker. Parker is new to the track, but should be a familiar name to those who follow distance running in Rowan County. She’s been dominating in cross-country for two seasons, and hopes to bring that same domination to the 3200.
Defending Rowan County and NPC champions South Rowan took perhaps the biggest hit in the offseason. Sprinter Alexa Allison, distance runner Hannah Houston and thrower JaQuasha Littlejohn all graduated. The Raiders also lost all-everything hurdler, sprinter and jumper Talvanisha Lawing, who transferred to AL Brown, as well as 400 and 800 runner Nicole Mauldin.
But even as the Raiders reload, Coach Angie Chrismon has developed some impressive talent in key events. First and foremost, expect the high flying Raiders to be very competitive – and deep – in the pole vault. Chrismon has three girls that have already qualified for regionals in the event: sisters Dallus and Dakotah Lambert as well as senior Arielle McConneaughey.
It’s a rebuilding year for the perennially strong North Rowan Cavaliers. After a fourth place finish at last year’s outdoor state championships, North failed to score a single point at the indoor championships in February. Used to sprinting all over local opponents, this year’s version of the Cavs are mostly freshmen and sophomores.
Amber Carter will be a leader for coach Todd Allen’s team. She finished 8th in the shot put at last year’s 1A outdoor state championships at NC A&T University, and should be a challenger for points in both throwing events at the county meet.
Josh Carter’s Cougars will have some strong senior leadership as they take to the track on Tuesday. Paris Parks, Porche Parks, Jesse Troutman and Miranda Wyatt are all seasoned veterans. Porche will be key for Carson in the sprints and jumps, will Paris will stick to the sprints. Troutman has been among the county’s best in the pole vault for years, but has yet to make it to the outdoor state championships in the event. She’ll be looking to make a statement at the Rowan County meet on Tuesday.
The Cougars have gotten some help from some unexpected places as well. After a stellar basketball season, seniors Kelly Dulkoski and Allison Blackwell are performing well on the track. Blackwell has been solid in the 800, while Dulkoski has been strong in both the 800 and 1600.
Akia West took the 100 in a meet against South Rowan just last week with a respectable 13.3, and freshman Autumn Pace has been solid as well.
The Salisbury High School women’s track team boasts one of the best sprinters in the state of North Carolina. That sprinter is the pint-sized Jaleesa Smoot, who currently sits atop the CCC rankings in the 100, 200 and 400. The sophomore finished 2nd in the state last year in the 200 and 400 and is hungry for gold in 2013.
Though the Hornets are small in numbers, Smoot will not be competing alone. If it weren’t for Smoot’s long shadow, teammate Brianna Gibbs would almost certainly be known as one of the CCC’s best in the 100. She will race in that event at the county meet on Tuesday, as well as the 200. She will also be a key part of both Salisbury sprint relays.
Cheyenne Gloster qualified for the state championships last year in the discus, and is a favorite to run away with both throwing events when all the county teams meet. Coach David Johnson also hopes for impressive performances from jumper Bria Gardner.