1A Track Meet: North Rowan boys win state championship
By Paul Hershey
GREENSBORO — A strategically placed single bench sat behind the podium on the infield of North Carolina A&T’s Irwin Belk track, serving as a place for athletes to wait before they received their medals.
If it seemed like North Rowan’s Johnny Oglesby spent much of his time on a sunny Friday afternoon making use of that bench, that’s because he did.
Oglesby won three individual titles, Garland Archie added two of his own and the Cavaliers’ depth overwhelmed the field to win the NCHSAA 1A state championship by 33 points — and it only got that close at the end.
“The guys have enjoyed a great season and they came today focused to get the win and they did the things that they had to do to be successful,” North coach Robert Steele said.
“I think we came through most everywhere we thought we would. We ran well and we threw well and we jumped well. The kids just performed at a real high level so I’m real happy for them.
“It’s always great to win a state championship.”
It’s the first 1A boys crown for North, but the 10th state title overall in the last 17 years.
Coming in as the favorite after an impressive regional performance last weekend, the Cavaliers didn’t disappoint on the bigger stage, totaling seven event titles and racking up 116 points. Defending champion North Carolina School of Science and Math was a distant second with 83.
“You never know coming into a state championship,” Steele said. “I knew that Science and Math was good and Hendersonville was good and several other teams would present a challenge. But our guys rose to the occasion today and just performed at a real high level. My hat’s off to them.”
None were better than Oglesby, who took first place in the 110 and 300 hurdles along with the long jump to earn Most Valuable Performer honors.
“This is what we wanted to do and we came out here and did it,” Oglesby said. “I’m just happy. I worked hard all year and I guess I got what I deserve. (The work) really did pay off.
“I thank my coaches most out of everybody. My coaches pushed me and I just did what they tell me to do and it got us a championship.”
Archie got the Cavs off a fast start by winning the shot put and discus, and with Sam Starks’ victory in the triple jump, North claimed four of the six field events. The 4×100 relay team of Titus King, Daylon Gray, Darius Jackson and Jamone Kelly provided the other event win.
Oglesby was only seeded ninth in the long jump, but his leap of 21-111/2 was an inch better than his regional jump and an inch and half better than the rest of the state field.
He surprised very few, himself included, by dusting the competition in the two hurdles events, with times of 14.62 and 38.71.
“I kind of knew that was going to be the outcome, but I still had to work hard,” he said. “You’ve still got to push yourself. You can be the best, but that doesn’t mean you’re the best that day.”
The time in the 300 was just .13 seconds off the meet record, his lone disappointment on an otherwise stellar day, but one that he took hard.
“He’s a kid who competes with a passion,” Steele said. “After completing his 300 hurdles he was headed back to where the team was and he broke down and started to cry. I asked him ‘What are you crying about?’ and his answer was ‘I did not break the state record.’ ”
Archie’s winning throw in the shot put of 49-91/2 came on his first attempt, while the decisive toss in the discus of 144-7 came on his next to last attempt.
“They weren’t my furthest throws, but I won with them,” he said. “It wasn’t my best day, but it was a good day, to come out and win both events and score 20 points because most people aren’t doing that.”
The discus win also provided redemption from a disappointing performance in the event last year when, like this year, he was seeded first, but ended up finishing 11th.
“I couldn’t repeat the same mistakes twice,” he said. “I just came out and corrected my mistakes from last year. I gained my composure and did what I had to do.”
Starks, who added a state track title to the basketball championship he was a part of in the the winter, had a strong all around day. Aside from the win in the triple jump (45-4), he was runner-up to Oglesby in the 110 hurdles (15.06) and fourth in the long jump (21-31/2). He was also part of the 4×200 relay team that took second (1:30.03). King, Gray and Jackson joined him on that squad that held the lead after three legs before being overtaken by West Montgomery.
Jackson added a fourth-place finish in the discus, Neegbeah Reeves was fifth in the 1600 meters, Javon Hargrave placed fifth in the shot put and Kelly took seventh in the 100 meters.
“We didn’t drop many things performance-wise that we were supposed to do,” Steele said. “That’s always key in a state championship. You try to make sure that you don’t lose any places that you’re supposed to get. The boys were real sharp.”
NOTES: The only event in which North missed out on expected points was the high jump. Malik Ford settled for ninth after placing first in the regional.
The North Carolina School of Science and Math earned 28 points in the last two events to make the gap smaller than it had been almost all day. … For Rowan County, it was the seventh state title this year and 17th in the past three. Rowan prep teams have won 29 state championships since 2000.