2A Boys Track: Salisbury boys can't defend title
By David Shaw
GREENSBORO — Strange as it sounds, disappointment ruled the day for the Salisbury boys track team Saturday.
The Hornets placed fifth in the 2A state championship meet at NC A&T — and they did it without Romar Morris, the lightning-quick sprinter who was expected to defend his state titles in the 100- and 200-meter dashes.
Instead, Morris reinjured his left hamstring midway through the 100 and hobbled across the finish line.
“It’s the same one I hurt before (April 2 at Mooresville),” Morris said after receiving post-race treatment. “It’s a shame because I was halfway home and was winning by a good margin. I thought I was going to break my own record, then boom. I didn’t hear anything pop, but I had to slow down.”
With Morris finished for the day, Salisbury coach Darius Bryson never found a way to replace the 24-30 potential team points Morris could have earned.
“The most disappointing thing,” Bryson said, “is that I know, he knows and everyone else knows he’s the fastest kid here. He just wasn’t 100 percent.”
Moments later he added: “That’s the way it works. Hamstrings are tricky, the trickiest muscle. You may think they’re healed when they’re not.”
Without Morris the Hornets amassed only 30 team points. State champion Berry Academy totaled 113 and became the first North Carolina team to win all four relay events in a state meet. To add insult to injury, Berry’s Kedrick Davis later broke Morris’ 100-meter state record (10.54 in 2010), winning the championship heat in 10:47 seconds.
Salisbury had a second-place finisher in the high jump, where senior Darien Rankin cleared 6-6 and closed a magnificent prep career. Afterward he needed some time to himself.
“He’s upset because he’s cleared 6-8 a couple of times this year,” Bryson said. “It was the height, nothing else. He didn’t say anything to me. It was hard enough to get him to go pick up his award.”
Rankin, the top seed, and Topsail junior Will Thomas waged a fierce battle. Both went out at 6-6, but Thomas was awarded first place because he cleared the bar on his first attempt. Rankin missed his first two tries, then failed in three attempts at 6-8.
“I felt like this year was my year,” said Rankin, who also placed eighth in the long jump (20-10 3/4) and triple jump (42-4 1/2). “I don’t know what happen other than I expected more of myself. But (Thomas) is a good jumper. Congratulations to him.”
Thomas, the second seed, raced off the course after Rankin caught the bar on his final jump, cementing the outcome.
“I was just praying that (Rankin) wouldn’t get it,” he said. “But if he did, I knew I always had next year.”
Salisbury’s Keion Adam placed fifth in shot put with an impressive throw of 47-7. Distance runner Philip Tonseth was fourth in the 800 run (2:02.60) and fifth in the 1600 (4:34.67), but was forced to drop out of the 3200 due to a blister on his left pinkie toe.
“I got through the mile OK,” Tonseth said. “But in my prep for the 800 I started looking at it and it was bad, the worst I’ve ever seen.”
In the pole vault Salisbury senior James Means made the lift of his life, clearing 12-6 to finish fifth. The Hornets had the state’s fourth-best qualifying time in the 4 x 100 relay — but that was with Morris running the anchor leg. Senior John Jarrett was a terrific fill-in, leading the Hornets to an 11th-place finish in 43.77. He was joined by Justin Ruffin, Smokey Saryee and Dominique Dismuke.
“That’s unbelievable,” said Bryson. “With Romar that’s easily 42-something.”
Added Tonseth: “We all wanted Romar to run, but we can’t rely on him to do our part.”
Salisbury’s final entrant was the 4 x 400 relay team of Marqui Ross, Tyler Downs, Luc Hutton and William Brown. It placed 10th in 3:32.92, capping a drama-filled day.