Prep Track: West boys lead county into 3A state meet
By Ronnie Gallagher
MOUNT ULLA — Rowan County has its state championship in golf, thanks to the Salisbury Hornets a couple of days ago.
Now attention has turned to track.
Salisbury and North Rowan will be among the favorites in the girls and boys state meet, but that’s next week.
Tomorrow, the 3A teams will take their turn.
And Ralph Ellis’ West Rowan Falcon boys, a mild surprise regional winner, is leading the county charge.
Ellis will take only a handful of Falcons with him to Irwin Belk Track at N.C. A&T Friday but don’t tell him he can’t win the big prize.
“It can be done,” he said.
Ellis remembers when West won its last regional in 2002.
“I took five to the states and we were runnerup,” he smiled. “We led right up to the last event.”
The eight Falcons headed to Greensboro are talented ones, led by Daishion Barger in the 110 hurdles. He is the returning state champ but he has been hampered by a broken hand. He still finished first last week.
“He’s about 75, 80 percent so we really don’t know how he’s going to run,” Ellis said.
Jamarian Mabry and Trey Mashore are healthy and both can place high in the long jump. They were 1-2 last week with Mabry recording a leap of 22-2.
Another first-place finish was turned in by the 4×200 relay team of Mashore, Tevin Gregory, C.J. Ellis and Brandon Ijames.
Ijames, a sophomore, ran only relays last year, but Ellis tried him in the 200 meters this season. It paid off last week as Ijames, seeded 12th, finished third.
“We broke a big-time seed there,” Ellis said.
C.J. Ellis also qualified in the 100 meters. Quinton Phifer qualified in the high jump. Trey Cuthbertson qualified in the 300 hurdles.
Coach Ellis was asked if the team was feeling the pressure. West, along with Forestview, Rocky Mount and Fayetteville Byrd won regional titles.
“They’re about as casual as they were last week,” Ellis chuckled. “We’re not doing a whole lot. No need to run and hurt ’em up now.”
West’s strategy remains the same.
“We’re going to break a few seeds like we did in the regional,” Ellis said. “Just looking at how they’ve got them all lined up, I don’t know who’s going to win it. There’s definitely no favorite.”
Just don’t count out the Falcons.
East’s boys were a disappointing sixth in the regional, in part due to Ben Hancock not running in four events. Coach Rick Roseman figured that was 20 to 25 points the Mustangs didn’t record.
But the Mustangs are taking Cole Honeycutt, Sam Sherman and Jordan Hopper. All three won regional firsts.
Honeycutt won the 800 meters, while Sherman took the shot (53-9). Hopper won the discus (149-10) with a personal best. He’ll also perform in the shot.
Salisbury and North are competing in regionals on Saturday.
Salisbury’s boys, the defending 2A state champ, is at Cuthbertson. The girls, second in the state last year, have a good shot at winning their third straight regional.
North is the defending 1A champ in girls and appear even better than last year, thanks to Meloney Ramos, who transferred from Salisbury. She’s a threat to win the hurdles and jumps in the regional, scheduled for Monroe.
North’s boys were sixth in the state last year, but are also much better with the addition of Johnny Oglesby, a star jumper and hurdler.
NOTES: The defending 3A state champs are Winston-Salem Prep’s girls and Marvin Ridge’s boys. … Marvin Ridge (79) finished third in the regional behind West (96) and Hickory Ridge (84). …. The 3A state meet on Friday and Saturday’s regionals start at 10 a.m. … … Olivia Sabo will compete in the discus for the East girls. … Sherman will need a monstrous throw in the shot to beat the state record of 61-41/2 set in 1975 by Northern Durham’s Mike Salzano.