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Prep Track: Salisbury in 2A state meet today

By Ronnie Gallagher
rgallagher@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Just when you thought Salisbury’s boys track team had lost its luster, the Hornets glimmered again in last week’s 2A regional.
Salisbury finished a disappointing fourth in the CCC meet but bounced back with a strong third-place effort, trailling only Forest Hills and Cuthbertson.
It has David Johnson’s guys feeling good about themselves heading into today’s state meet at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track,
Johnson said that the regional meet was “by far our best effort of the season. We did not have a high number of athletes compete at regionals, but the ones that did compete excelled in their individual and relay events.”
Especially William Brown. He already owns a state title in the indoor high jump and will be the overwhelming favorite to win outdoors after leaping an eye-popping 6-foot-10 to win the regional.
“William jumped 6-10 with ease,” Johnson noted. “He has worked hard on his technique this season and it is paying off. Seven feet is a definite possibility if he can conquer the mental aspect.”
Brown wasn’t done. He placed third in the long jump and was a member of the qualifying 4×400 relay team, which includes Hanson Saryee, Luke Hutton and Erik Murray.
Rasean Bledsoe won the triple jump (44-51/2) and is a favorite in the state meet.
Bledsoe was in second before his last attempt and he was the last one to jump. He leaped two feet further than his personal best.
“He thrived on the pressure,” Johnson said. “He is ranked second in state competition based on regional marks. I believe he will step up to the competition and have a shot at the state title.”
Also going to the state meet are DaQuan Robertson (long jump and triple jump), Montana Harmon and Terrence McElrath (discus) and Philip Simons in the 1600.
There’s no Romar Morris or Darien Rankin, who put Salisbury on the track map, but the handful of Hornets going are talented enough to make some noise.
“We are going to North Carolina A&T as an inexperienced team competing at the state level,” Johnson said. “However, they feel like they have something to prove after losing some experienced and successful athletes in the last year’s graduating class.”

Only one girl scored in the regional but boy, did Jaleesa Smoot score. She tallied 26 points by herself, winning the 400 meters while finishing second in the 100 and 200.
And get this. She’s only a freshman, one year out of Southeast Middle School. She has been competing in AAU for a few years.
“She is definitely blessed with speed and a great work ethic that has gotten her very far as a freshmen,” Johnson said.
Smoot’s best chance is the 400. She is ranked first based on her time at regionals.
“This is her best shot at a state title,” Johnson said. “She will be in the hunt in the 100 and 200, but they have a lot of great, older competition in these events.”
The regional showing rejuvenated the Hornets. Johnson hopes it carries over.
“There is going to be a high level of competition, and physically we will be ready to compete,” he said. “My hope is my athletes will be as mentally prepared as they are physically capable of succeeding at the state level.”

NOTES: Field events begin at 10 a.m. and running at 11. … Admission is $6.

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