• 63°

Prep Track: North Rowan boys win another 1A state title

By Mike London
mlondon@salisburypost.com
GREENSBORO — After competing in the shot put, Tydler Watlington happily pointed two long fingers at coach Robert Steele, who was seated in the bleachers 50 yards away.
Watlington wasn’t holding up an old-school peace sign, he was conveying the information to his coach that he’d finished second with a season-best throw (47 feet, 6 inches) and that eight more huge points had been added to the Cavaliers’ column.
Watlington and high jumper Malik Ford, who soared a surprising 6-4, earned silver medals while competing in the shadow of a billboard at North Carolina A&T that read, appropriately enough, “I spy something green.”
Watlington and Ford were part of North’s devastating early surge in the field events, and the Cavs held off a charge by North Carolina School of Science & Math to repeat as 1A state champs.
A lot of what happened right for North on Saturday was meet MVP Johnny Oglesby, who accounted for 38 points with three golds and a silver, but it wasn’t like even Oglesby could do it by himself. North clawed for just enough points to hold off Science & Math 79-75 in a two-horse race.
“Track coaches can almost always figure out who’s going to win a meet the night before,” Steele said. “But, honestly, this one was too close to call. There were two great 1A teams here today. One of them was going to win. The other was going to compete its hardest and still finish a little bit behind.”
North had no margin for error. If, for instance. Neegbeah Reeves, who placed fourth in the 1600, had switched finishes with Science & Math’s Robert Baraldi, who was sixth, the day would’ve ended 77-77.
It was that tight.
“Coach gave us our goals on Friday and everyone knew they needed to live up to those expectations,” said Watlington, who also contributed a seventh in the discus. “All of us, especially the seniors, wanted to do this for Coach Steele. We know how much he loves it.”
Ford isn’t a senior, but he literally rose to the occasion. He strolled to the high jump pit as one of a cluster of jumpers who had cleared 6 feet, but 6-2 was no obstacle and neither was 6-4. On an ordinary 1A day, he would’ve won gold, but Hendersonville’s Grant Rivers notched 6-6.
“Second place wasn’t what I wanted, but it was still the best I’ve felt all year and the best I’ve jumped all year,” Ford said. “Last year, I jumped 5-10 because I was thinking too much. Today, I tried hard not to think and did a lot better.”
Oglesby did what was expected.
The key moment for him came early on in the long jump. He looked stunned when Mount Airy’s Joktan Moore hit a mark of 22-4, but Oglesby, with Steele urging him on from the bleachers, soared 22-6 to nip Moore for the gold.
“When he got that 22-4, I was like, ‘Oh, nooo,’ ” Oglesby said. “I kind of shocked myself that I still won that event.”
Oglesby politely applauded for himself as he climbed from the pit, and no one blamed him. After that, he was on his way. He defended all three of his state titles, but there was one anxious moment when he briefly pulled up lame during his second-place effort in the triple jump.
“My leg was a little sore — not a big thing at all,” he explained.
Apparently he was OK. He was a blur in winning the 300 hurdles in 39.08 seconds and the 110 hurdles in 14.40.
His teammates chipped in. Corey Angle scored five points in the jumps. Pierre Givens added three in the triple. The 4×400, 4×200 and 4×100 relay units pieced together 10 critical points. The 4×200 crew of Xavier Robinson, Daylon Gray, Eric Gadson and Jareke Chambers had the best finish. They placed fourth.
It came down to the next-to-last event — the 3200. Science & Math had three strong entries, and North, which was trying to hold a 78-47 lead had none. Had Science & Math runners gone 1-2-3, it would suddenly have been 78-71, but the Cavaliers got help from Mitchell and Chatham Central. They limited the Unicorns to a 1-3-5 finish and 20 points.
That meant North led 78-67, and with only the 4×400 left on the docket, the Cavaliers owned another state title — their 21st under Steele (counting boys and girls, indoor and outdoor) since 1990.
“Our kids just keep improving, and we found a way to get it done today,” Steele said. “We were focused, we were determined, and we wanted it. Not that winning is everything, but it does feel good.”

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Man charged for stowing away on Norfolk Southern train, impeding railroad operations

Local

Group will protest treatment of Georgia woman during 2019 traffic stop

Crime

Man overdoses at Piedmont Correctional Institute

Crime

Sheriff’s Office: Two men escape from jail, found in bushes on Fulton Street

Ask Us

Ask Us: When will North Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue be resurfaced?

Local

Political Notebook: Rowan’s lawmakers pass 140 bills into the opposite chamber before deadline

Local

Police chief to present use of force policy; city manager to present 2021-22 budget

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on charges of felony larceny, possession of stolen vehicle

Coronavirus

CDC director says mask turnaround based solely on science

News

Catawba College hosts three in-person commencement ceremonies

Local

With high case loads causing numerous staff departures, Child Protective Services seeks more positions

Education

Livingstone College graduates celebrate ‘crossing the finish line’ during commencement celebration

Coronavirus

Rowan sees 4 new COVID-19 deaths as mask mandate lifted, vaccines administered continue decline

Local

Spencer is latest town updating its development ordinance

Local

Salisbury native Kristy Woodson Harvey makes NY Times bestseller list

Local

Board of Commissioners will convene for third time in May

Business

Biz Roundup: Salisbury, Kannapolis among recipients of Region of Excellence Awards

Local

Cheerleading team competes at Disney

Education

Salisbury High to celebrate football, swimming champions with parade

High School

High school girls soccer: Isley, Webb lead all-county team

Local

Spencer awarded $10,000 to develop trails at Stanback Forest

Books

‘Tails and Tales’ coming to library this summer

Local

Public Records: March Deeds

Entertainment

Salisbury Symphony’s ‘Return to the Concert Hall’ available May 24-31