Rowan County Boys Track Meet: North talent too much for Hancock, East
By Ryan Bisesi
GRANITE QUARRY — “He’s a freak of nature,” shouts East Rowan’s Evan Hiatt when talking about the day that teammate Ben Hancock had at the Rowan County Meet.
The claim had merit, as Hancock claimed personal bests in winning the 400 and 200 meter runs, helped win a 4×400 relay and took second in the 100.
Hancock, whose 20-year-old brother Gabe committed suicide in January, explained it another way.
“I felt like my brother was watching over me,” said the future marine. “I asked him to give me a hand and he came through. It felt good.”
In a day where just about all the athletes on East Rowan’s football field had an interesting story to tell, Hancock’s was impossible to overlook. He won the 400 for the third straight year and was the meet’s sprint MVP, a worthy accolade according to his coach.
“He has been so motivated by Gabe going into this season,” East coach Rick Roseman said. “Gabe has inspired Ben to do what he did today.”
Hancock’s spirit was matched around the field on Wednesday with a stellar senior crop, all showcasing their talents. North Rowan’s talent and experience won out in both the boys and girls competitions with the Cavalier boys edging East 156-146 for their first County title since 2006.
Even with the competitive nature of the day, rival athletes stood in admiration of their competitors. North junior Johnny Oglesby pointed over at Salisbury stud Darien Rankin.
“That man over there is going to make me compete in the long jump,” Oglesby said with a laugh.
Oglesby, who won the 110 hurdles (39.37) and the 300 hurdles (39.37), later fell to Rankin, the field events MVP, in the long jump (21-7) and high jump (6-6).
North’s Sam Starks, already a 1A state champion on the hardwood, took his second consecutive triple-jump title (44-10).
Starks and Oglesby traded firsts in several events, but no petty qualms were invoked. It only equaled a title for the Cavs.
“It’s like when you’re a little kid and you want to be the strongest and fastest in everything,” Starks said. “It’s the same way with us. We try to have fun with it.”
Oglesby was an inch short in the triple jump, finishing second to Starks. Starks and Titus King finished 2-3 behind Oglesby in the 110 hurdles. Demiah Hawkins was runner up to Oglesby, a transfer from Lexington, in the 300 hurdles.
“Sam and Johnny are real competitive,” said North coach Robert Steele, in his 26th year with the Cavaliers. “But the good thing about it, even though they’re in the same events, they’re great teammates. There’s no envy or jealously.”
Rankin was disappointed after not clearing 6-8 in three tries in the high jump, but took solace in the several meets left in his career.
“I think I could have done it in my sleep,” Rankin said. “I practiced and practiced, but it wasn’t my day.”
Sam Sherman boosted East in the shot put despite three scratches. Sherman’s top toss of 53-41/2 missed his personal best of 55-9 thrown last week at South Rowan, but it was good enough for first place.
“There’s so many miniscule things that you can do wrong to effect your throw,” Sherman said. “It’s just one of those days, but you’ve got to bounce back.”
The Mustangs took first by eight seconds in the 4×400 (3:29), while West won the 4×200 (1:31) and 4×100 (43.27).
South Rowan’s 4×800 relay broke a county record with an 8:18 finish in the third straight title. Michael York, the final leg of the relay, was distance MVP after capturing the 1600 (4:32) and 3200 (10:22). York led for nearly the duration of both races.
“It’s great to come out here and win county titles in such a hard county to race in,” said the Lenoir-Rhyne signee. “It’s an honor.”