2A Track: Salisbury’s Smoot wins state title in 400 meters
By Ryan Bisesi
GREENSBORO — Jaleesa Smoot’s performance in the 400-meter dash at Friday’s state 2A track meet made her sick.
By the time the stellar Salisbury sophomore won the race with a personal best time of 56.59 seconds, just staying upright was hard. Fortunately, her pain gave way to a tremendous gain in a state championship. Salisbury coach David Johnson joked with Smoot that her championship shirt would need to be an “extra, extra small,” but she did a lot of damage at Irwin Belk Track Friday.
“After the 400, she was sitting over here in the tent throwing up and cramping,” Johnson said. “Then, 20 minutes later, she goes and runs the 200 and gets third in the state. She was phenomenal.”
After placing fourth in the 100 and third in the 200, Smoot had a legitimate case for girls MVP. The award was given to High Point Andrews’ Nora McKiver after winning the 300 and 100 hurdles and placing second in the 200. Smoot gathered 21 points from three top-five finishes. When the day was over, she didn’t know her times, but didn’t need them to know she had put in a full day’s work.
“It was very tiring,” Smoot said. “To have these events back-to-back-to-back is hard.”
Smoot ran a 58.16 at the regional 400, placing second to Cuthbertson’s Nikolete Hurrinus’ 56.69. Friday, Smoot dusted third-place Hurrinus and beat runner up Brittany Moss (57.35) of Bandys by almost a full second. She was placed in Lane 5 and caught up with the outside lanes before distancing herself for the final 100 yards with a late burst.
“I run the 400 my way,” Smoot said. “I have my own tactics. I run hard near the end. I’m very happy with how today went.”
Smoot was fourth in the 100 preliminaries and duplicated that with a 12.55 time in the finals. Alex Council (Pittsboro Northwood) was runner up and Tia Glover (St. Paul’s) placed third. She was third in the 200, her final meet, with a 25.71 time behind the Andrews’ duo of McKiver and winner Paisley Simmons.
Smoot was second in the 400 last year as a freshman and was the sprint MVP of the county meet. At the Central Carolina Conference meet, Smoot swept the 100, 200 and 400.
“She’s a gifted athlete and she works hard,” Johnson said of Smoot. “When you put those things together, good things will come to you.”
Salisbury’s Cheyenne Gloster tied for second in the discus, throwing 113 feet, nine inches along with Starmount’s Samantha Welborn. Croatan’s Samantha Layko ruled the event with a 122-1 throw. Gloster entered Friday seeded first in the discus but fell short of her regional toss of 118-03. Gloster dominated the county and CCC meet.
“I would say I’m grateful to be here,” Gloster said. “My goal was to get top three in the state and I accomplished that.”
NOTES: Smoot and Gloster helped Salisbury place seventh in the girls standings with 28 points. Carrboro won the event with 77 points. ... Salisbury’s Zocola Hamilton was 13th in the triple jump with a 31-10 jump. Gloster also placed 13th in the shot put.