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North hurdlers produce big points for small team

By Bret Strelow
Salisbury Post
SPENCER ó In a matter of 0.61 seconds, North Rowan’s regional championship hopes received a welcomed boost.
Three black, green and white jerseys blurred past the finish line in that short span of time, delivering 24 points to the Cavaliers’ track squad.
The number-crunched Cavs won the regional with 63 points, and the team’s three hurdlers will put their talents on display again today during the 2A state meet at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.
John Bostick is the defending champion in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles, and fellow senior Rodney Smith has qualified in both events. Daishion Barger, an eighth-grader who has aged out of middle school competition, will join Bostick and Smith in the field for the 110 hurdles.
Bostick, Barger and Smith swept the top three spots in that event at the county, conference and regional meets. Bostick won last weekend with a time of 14.77 seconds, and Barger crossed next in 15.00. Smith was third with a 15.38.
“Most people think they’re a sprinter or most people think they’re a long jumper,” North coach Matt Price said. “We can key on events like the hurdles, and it’s a good event to coach that a lot of teams aren’t coaching.
“You get a good hurdler, it’s kind of rare. John Bostick is a rare kid, and (Barger) is going to be a rare kid. What we have, it’s special.”
The entire trio nearly qualified in the 300 hurdles ó Smith’s best event ó but 0.03 seconds separated Barger from Monroe’s Darius Cureton, who nabbed the fourth and final berth.
Bostick and Smith are also members of two state-bound relay teams from North, which has won four of the last five 2A championships. Shelby is this year’s favorite.
“If they score 60 points, they’ll be hard to beat,” Price said. “If we get some help from everybody else and do what we’re supposed to, we’ve got a shot.”
The Cavaliers have eight separate entries, and their total of seven state-qualified athletes includes Anthony Imes (discus), Lathan Charleston (4×200 runner), Corey Angle (4×400 veteran) and Cameron Mallett (4×400 contributor).
North needed only five participants to win the title in 2005, when the Cavs settled for second at their own conference meet, and this year’s team has some similarities.
Salisbury captured the CCC championship, and the Cavs bounced back to finish first in the regional. They don’t compare favorably in terms of size to the other three teams that won regionals.
Shelby, which possesses a pair of top-seeded relay squads, will use 12 different athletes to fill 18 entries. It has three of the top seven seeds in the 100 meters, making it the only boys team other than North Rowan with three participants in one individual event.
North Brunswick has the same number of athletes (13) as entries, and Southern Guilford’s 10 entries feature 11 athletes.
“We’re very, very small,” Bostick said. “It’s about the teamwork at practice, making everybody come to practice and working together.”
Bostick is seeded third in the 110 hurdles behind Owen’s Michael Simmerson (14.56) and Shelby’s Rodrick Blake (14.67). Simmerson took fourth at the state meet last year, and Blake didn’t make the final.
Bostick led all qualifiers by running a 14.55 during the regional prelims, but times from the finals are used for seeding. Barger comes in at No. 4, and Smith is seeded sixth.
Bostick edged Barger for first place in the county, conference and regional competitions. Smith finished third each time.
“We just try to push each other going down the track,” Bostick said. “Going down the track, going over the hurdles, we just get faster and faster and faster until we see who comes out.”
Bostick’s regional time of 39.76 in the 300 hurdles final ranked first among state qualifiers, and Smith is seeded seventh.
Smith, who placed second behind Bostick at the county meet and took third at the regional, finished fourth at last year’s state championships.
“When his steps are right, he’s hard to beat,” Price said. “John’s just one of the people who has beaten him. They’re buddies, and I don’t think they mind too bad. I know John doesn’t.”
Price laughed at the last part.
His hurdlers are competitive, but they realize the value of multiple point-producing efforts.

Contact Bret Strelow at 704-797-4258 or bstrelow@salisburypost.com.

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