3A state track meet: Simiton sparks Wonders
By Bret Strelow
GREENSBORO ó Billy Simiton shook his head to convey a hint of disappointment, but he smiled as A.L. Brown coach Noah Lyon approached with an extended right hand.
Simiton’s victory in the high jump helped Brown’s boys finish second to Marvin Ridge at the 3A state track championships Saturday. South Rowan’s B.J. Grant took third in the same event at North Carolina A&T, and Daishion Barger led East Rowan with a fourth-place showing in the 110-meter hurdles.
Simiton and Glenn’s Chase Ingram both cleared 6 feet, 6 inches on the second of three attempts, and neither competitor succeeded at 6-8. Ingram barely clipped the bar and knocked it off the standards on his last two tries at that height.
The tiebreaker went to Simiton, who was jumping after Ingram, because he had fewer total misses. His third effort at 6-8 was a pressure-free attempt, and Lyon congratulated Simiton once he eased off the mat.
Simiton praised the work of his coaches, notably volunteer assistant and former South Carolina State jumper Kimeka Peak.
“It feels great because I’ve been working at this since my freshman year,” said Simiton, a senior who placed 12th in the state last year. “It comes down to having good coaches helping me, especially Coach P. It was her first season with me, so it was kind of a hard transition from my technique to hers, but it worked out with a state title.”
Simiton had struggled in previous years to maneuver his feet over the bar without hitting it as he descended to the mat.
Peak instructed Simiton to arch his back more and tuck his chin closer to his chest as he jumped.
“Last year I got out because I could never get my feet over,” Simiton said. “I used her technique, and it got me this, so I can’t complain.”
The Wonders finished with 47 points, 17 fewer than Marvin Ridge. Dudley and Southwest Guilford tied for third with 36 points apiece.
Simiton, Artrele Louis, Jamill Lott and Dillon Robinson ran on a second-place 4×100 team (42.63 seconds) and a fourth-place 4×200 team (1:30.45). Tavis Bailey took second in the discus (157-10).
Louis, a standout running back who didn’t play football as a senior because of concerns over a spinal condition, also finished fourth in the 100 (11.30).
“It was fun to be able to play another sport for A.L. Brown and play with my teammates,” Louis said. “I’ve had fun. I got to states like I wanted to and won regionals last week.”
Some colleges have expressed interest in Louis as a sprinter, and he said Elizabeth City State has offered a football scholarship.
According to Louis, it’s his decision whether or not he resumes his football career.
“I want to play football a lot,” he said. “That’s my No. 1 love right there. Track is cool, but football, that’s my thing.”
Louis supported his football teammates during their run to the 3AA title game and appeared at midfield for coin tosses wearing his No. 8 uniform.
“Every Friday he was on the track running,” Simiton said. “He’d come back to the locker room and get dressed and stand on the sideline with us like nothing happened. He’s been working hard all season long.”
South’s Grant, the top seed, was one of four high jumpers to clear 6-4. He won the tiebreaker for third place.
East’s Barger won his preliminary heat in the 110 hurdles and ran a 14.80 in the final to finish behind Southwest Guilford’s Cordell Livingston (14.31), Nash Central’s Danny Allen (14.37) and Eastern Wayne’s Stacey Edwards (14.77).
“I jumped first, but then they caught me,” Barger said. “I was floating over the hurdles, and I might have hit one or two. I did pretty good, but I think I could have done better.”
Barger competed for North Rowan in the 2A state meet last year. He was running second in his preliminary heat when he stumbled and fell shy of the final hurdle.
“Last year I fell, so I was a little shaky, like, ‘I hope I don’t fall and hope I do well and make it to the finish line,’ ” Barger said. “After I got into the hurdles and starting jumping, I felt good about it.”
Barger finished seventh in the 200 (23.14), and East teammate Nathan Robbins also participated in two events. He placed ninth in the shot put (45-111/2) and 12th in the discus (135-6). Keith Leonard was sixth in the pole vault (12-6).
T.C. Roberson won the girls title, and West Rowan’s Amber Holloway led county athletes with a seventh-place finish in the 100 hurdles (16.18). She was on a 15th-place 4×100 team with Nicole Barber, Kimberly Jenkins and Moriah Leach (51.91).
West’s Desere Cross took eighth in the discus (99-5), and East’s Kasee Hepler claimed 15th in the shot put (31-71/2).Northwest Cabarrus’ Maklisha Ford won the 100 hurdles, and Jill Moore earned a point by completing the 1600 wheelchair race in 5:08.74. She was also the only entry in the 3200 wheelchair race, and she received another ovation from the crowd while finishing that event in 10:34.38.