Rowan County track: Cuthbertson leads North Rowan
By Bret Strelow
GRANITE QUARRY ó North Rowan freshman Teaunna Cuthbertson won four events at the Rowan County Track Meet and set the pace in the final race around East Rowan’s oval ó an enthusiastic victory lap for the Cavalier girls.
Cuthbertson accounted for 40 of first-place North’s 163 points, one more than the amount two-time defending champion Salisbury totaled Tuesday. East Rowan was a distant third, followed by West Rowan, South Rowan and Carson.
The final event ó the 4×400 relay ó decided the meet. North, trailing by three points before the start of the race, picked up 10 when Tatiana Banks, Corbin Bennett, Akevia Charleston and Tenesha Dickerson won with a time of 4:29.
A second-place finish would have given Salisbury eight more points and the team title, but East won a tight battle for the runner-up spot in the relay.
The Cavaliers, with legendary coach Robert Steele now in charge, captured their first county championship since 2004.
“It just means a lot because, when it’s so close and you want something so bad, you want nothing more in the world than to get just that little bit,” Bennett said. “If Salisbury would have come in second and they would have won, right then and there I would have broke down crying. For the dedication we had and the dedication other teams had, we pulled it through.”
Bennett was talking about East’s relay team, anchored by Jenny Hughes.
The Mustangs edged Salisbury by 0.80 seconds, limiting the Hornets to six points in the event. North runners mobbed Hughes and her East teammates in a show of appreciation.
“For them to pull through and make our dream come true on this day, against our biggest rival, we love them for it,” Bennett said.
North and Salisbury combined for all of the victories, but the Hornets were hurt by a disqualification that cost them second place and eight points in the 4×200 relay. An athlete who had failed to show up for an earlier event and thus was ineligible to compete for the remainder of the meet ran in the 4×200.
Banks, Charleston, Abril Ellis and Yasarian Bush helped North win that race. Bush was the 200-meter champion, and Bennett took first in the 400.
Cuthbertson was the top finisher in the long jump (18 feet, 91/4 inches), triple jump (36-71/2), 100 hurdles (14.76 seconds) and 300 hurdles (50.80). She won the sprints MVP award and shared the field honor with Salisbury’s Alisha Bradshaw, who dominated the shot put (37-7) and discus (121-1).
“We’re continuing the tradition,” Cuthbertson said. “It was great just being able to be out here with my team to help them in many ways.”
Cuthbertson repeated a rare feat accomplished by cousin LaTasha Pharr, who won two jumping events and two hurdles races as a North freshman in 1998.
“It’s very exciting,” Cuthbertson said. “I really didn’t think I was going to win all four, but I’m glad I did.”
Salisbury sophomore Dasia McGill had a similar performance last year, but a second-place finish in the 300 hurdles prevented her from collecting four victories. She was second in the long jump, second in the triple jump, third in the 100 hurdles and fifth in the 300 hurdles Tuesday. Melaney Ramos won the 100, was second in the 100 hurdles, took third in the long jump and joined Kia Rice, Symone Knox and Najwa Allison on the first-place 4×100 team.
Bradshaw won the shot put by almost 4 feet and outdistanced second-place Desere Cross of West Rowan by more than 18 feet in the discus. Distance MVP Katherine Shields ó who was on the first-place 4×800 relay with Emily Shields, Brooke Johnson and Katelyn Horning ó won the 1,600 and 3,200. Emily Shields was the 800 champion, and Rice claimed first in the high jump.
The Hornets wound up with nine wins, but a timely victory in the 4×400 gave North reason to celebrate following the final event.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” Steele said. “My hat is off to a great Salisbury team, and I’m very proud of my team. A lot of courage and determination.
“We’ve gone through some adversity, but we’ve continued to strive for excellence.”
NOTES: A story detailing Cuthbertson’s sterling county debut will appear in a future edition of the Post.
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