Boys county track preview
It’s no secret that Rowan County is a hot bed for high school sports. County schools have been in contention for state titles in football, basketball, golf, soccer, and volleyball, among other sports in recent years. So it should come as no surprise that Rowan County punches above its weight in track and field as well.
That speed and athleticism will be on full display on Tuesday as East Rowan High School hosts the 2013 Rowan County Track and Field Championships.
East Rowan is the defending champion, but will have to contend with a strong field of competition, including defending 1A state champions North Rowan in order to repeat as champions. In fact, there is so much parity in Rowan County track, there are four legitimate contenders for the county title: East, North, West and perhaps even Carson (a team which bears a strong resemblance to its rival in Granite Quarry). South Rowan and Salisbury, too, will be looking to make it interesting.
Here’s what to expect:
As always, expect the defending county champion Mustangs to be in the mix for the title. Despite losing all-everything distance runner Cole Honeycutt, Coach Rick Roseman has again fielded a competitive team, anchored by a level of balance and depth unmatched among other county schools.
Led by Conor Honeycutt, the Mustangs have a veritable stable of distance runners, with four boys under the 5:00 mark in the 1600 meter run and three boys under 11:00 in the 3200, along with the county leader in the 800, Graham Lyerly.
Last year’s edition of Carson Track and Field saw the Cougars solidify their place as a County power. However, coach Robert Marchinko entered the season with some serious challenges. First among them: how to replace graduated seniors Zach Blythe in the sprints, Dontae Gilbert in the jumps, and Nathan McMasters in the 800 and 1600 meter runs, all state qualifiers.
But the Cougars enter the county meet with plenty of scoring options, beginning with the one-two punch of Myquon Stout and Tre Williams in the throwing events. Stout needs no introduction. He is the defending state champion in the shot put for outdoor track, and finished second in the event at the indoor state championships in February. He leads the county in both throwing events so far this outdoor season.
The Raider men face a new challenge this year: numbers. There simply aren’t that many of them. Many lack experience and injuries to two key athletes, Tvadis Wesley and Curtis Martin, didn’t help. But don’t confuse small and young with slow and scared. There is a lot of potential in the team from Landis.
That potential starts with the jumping duo of Lavon Hill and Lamyron Greene. Greene excels in the long and triple jumps and will help in the sprints, while Hill has already qualified for regionals in the high jump and will help in the long jump as well.
Kurtis Reed, a steadily improving sophomore, will help lead South Rowan on the track. In the absence of older brother Alex, Reed will finally look to step into the spotlight himself, and is a scoring threat in both the 1600 and 3200.
West Rowan may not have the depth of cross-county rivals East Rowan, but they have plenty of talent. Raykwon Torrence leads the county in the 400, just ahead of teammate Harvey Landy. CJ Ellis, Deondre White and Daisean Reddick provide a balanced attack in the 100 meter dash, while Steven Kennedy is a scoring threat in the 200. Juwan Houston should contribute on relays and will be the favorite in the 300 hurdles.
In the distance events, the Falcons will depend on all-conference cross-country runner Todd Gabriel. Gabriel will join a very competitive field in the 800, hoping to beat out East’s Graham Lyerly, Carson’s Daniel Sherer and Salisbury’s Philip Simons for the county title. He will also hope to crack into scoring position in the 1600.
In the field events, Torrence will be called on again to compete in the long jump, while teammate Chris Patterson has been phenomenal in the triple jump. Caleb Cranfield will hope to pry open the iron grip the Mustangs of East Rowan have had on the pole vault in recent seasons, and the versatile Zeke Blackwood should be a contender for points in both the high jump and the shot put.
It wasn’t too long ago that the Hornets were winning conference titles and were consistently in the running for the 2A state crown. David Johnson’s team may not be climbing to such lofty heights in 2013, but Salisbury has the pieces to be a dangerous team.
After running all over CCC opponents this football season, Justin Ruffin has picked up even more speed on the track. He’s been electric this season, and is one of the favorites to take the county title in the 100. He should also be competitive in the 200.
Ruffin is joined on the track by Phillip Simons, a soccer standout with a ferocious kick that will be in the mix in both the 800 and 1600.
North Rowan is always the elephant in the room when it comes to county track. The Cavaliers have won 11 state titles since 1994, and are the reigning 1A champs. Their strategy is simple: blitz opponents with unbelievable speed. North lost superstar Johnny Oglesby to graduation, but coach Todd Allen can still count on a host of sprinters.
Daylon Gray, Eric Gadson, Xavier Robinson and Cameron Sifford will team up to carry on the tradition of electric North Rowan sprint relays, while 2012 state championships qualifier Darius Wallace will be a threat in the 400.
Justin Kimber, Shareef Walker and Hunter Walker have the unenviable task of replacing Oglesby in the hurdle events. Shareef qualified for the outdoor state championships last year as a freshman, while Hunter is a sensational senior who is new to the track but still managed a 5th place finish at the indoor track state championships.