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2A track: Salisbury boys win state title

By Bret Strelow
bstrelow@salisburypost.com
GREENSBORO ó Romar Morris, a champion in two events, crouched with each of his index fingers pointed skyward.
Morris struck that pose from atop the medals stand, but he did so with teammates surrounding him.
Salisbury, with a boost from the meet MVP, is indeed the No. 1 boys squad in 2A track and field.
Morris won the 100 meters and 200 meters for the Hornets, who totaled 55 points and secured their third state title Friday at North Carolina A&T. They repeated as 1A/2A champs in 1988 and 1989.
A fifth-place finish from Philip Tonseth in the 3,200 ó the next-to-last event ó enabled Salisbury to gain needed separation from runner-up East Lincoln (49 points) and Shelby (44).
“I’m shocked,” Salisbury coach Mike Allen said. “Totally unexpected. I knew we had a shot. When somebody asked me, I said, ‘Yeah, we’ve got a shot. One through six.’
“I didn’t think we could win. I really didn’t. We covered a lot overall, and that’s what did it. We had a lot of guys step up and really believe we could do something.”
Morris, the top seed in both the 100 and 200, joined Adam Boyd, Andre Steele and Desmond Adams on the short list of Salisbury athletes with outdoor sprint titles.
Morris won the 100 with a time of 10.80 seconds, and Shelby’s Larry Raper finished second in 11.04.
Morris ran a 21.85 in the 200, and North Brunswick’s Jesse Riley took second in 22.20.
“I was running relaxed, and Coach told me to run all out because there’s nothing else until football season,” Morris said with a laugh. “I had butterflies in my stomach before the race started, but I was more nervous before the 100 because it was so tight.
“It’s real satisfying because I had a target on my back. Everybody was looking at me because I had the fastest times. I’ve been working hard in practice, and Coach said I could do it. I believed I could do it.”
Morris, who failed to make the final in the 100 as a freshman at the 2008 state meet, strained his right quad early in the CCC championships.
He won both sprints at the Midwest Regional and collected a pair of convincing victories Friday.
“It’s a great feeling, but I know next year they’re going to come after me even harder,” Morris said. “I’ve got to work just as hard to get another one.”
Tonseth, fellow distance runner Nick Summers, high jumper Darien Rankin (fourth, 6-6) and A.J. Ford (eighth in the shot put at 46-31/2) also scored points as individuals.
Morris, Ford, Joseph Figueroa and Hanson Saryee were part of a 4×100 relay team that placed third (43.30). The eighth-place 4×800 team of Nick Summers, Philip Tonseth, Tyler Downs and Marqui Ross earned one point.
Tonseth ó who also claimed fifth in the 1,600 ó cut more than 15 seconds off his personal-best time in the 3,200 by crossing in 10:27. East Lincoln’s Brather Cline was 10th in the race and didn’t score.
Salisbury entered that event with a seven-point lead on Shelby and an eight-point advantage over East Lincoln, which had defeated the Hornets for the regional title a weekend earlier thanks in part to the 10 points it received from a win in the 4×400 relay.
Tonseth’s four points increased Salisbury’s edge to 11, meaning the Hornets could celebrate even without an entry in the 4×400.
“I was told before the 3,200 that I had to beat East Lincoln,” Tonseth said. “If I did that, we would be state champions. I was shaking. It was horrible. Every time I turned around I was looking for him and hoping I could beat him.”
Summers played an important role by placing third in the 800 (2:00) and second in the 1,600 (4:34).
Wilkes Central’s Chase Miller won the mile by more than five seconds, and Summers was in fifth place with half a lap remaining. He sprinted past three competitors in the next 150 meters.
“It was kind of hard, but I had Philip back there motivating me,” Summers said. “I have a strong kick, so I try to stay in it until then and just go.”
North Rowan’s boys, led by Samuel Starks and Titus King, finished 10th with 14 points.
Starks placed third in the 110 hurdles in 15.68, and King crossed in fourth with a time of 15.98. Starks, a sophomore, was in second place before he clipped the next-to-last hurdle.
“I have two more years, and I’ll just have to perform better,” he said.
Starks, King, Cameron Mallett and Lathan Charleston were on North’s sixth-place 4×200 team.
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Local results are in Scoreboard.

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