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Prep boys track: East’s seniors make it four in a row

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GRANITE QUARRY — East Rowan’s seniors had never lost a Rowan County Championship Meet, and they weren’t about to lose this one.

The Mustangs finished off their fourth straight title in style Tuesday by winning the 4×400 relay. Josh Little, a perennial standout in the 100 and 200 was asked by coach John Fitz to attempt the 400 recently, and he has done so.

Little started that winning relay with a blazing 52.3 split before collapsing, every ounce of energy drained from his body.

“That was everything I’ve got,” said Little, who plans to sign with Western Carolina.

Willie McCree and Devaniel Dale took the baton next, and then Conor Honeycutt, the face of the program for four years, whirled around the track to win by more than six seconds. Then he hugged teammates and bounced  around the infield in celebration.

“We knew we had the meet won after the 3200,” Honeycutt said. “We came very close to the school record in the 4×4, and it was just a great feeling to be the one who brought it home for us.”

East Rowan won with 169 points. West Rowan, led by Jaylon Sanders, put up a fight and finished with 145. Carson totaled 123 distance-heavy points. North Rowan (65), South Rowan (37) and Salisbury (13) rounded out the field.

“We lost a meet at West Rowan a few weeks ago, and that’s something that hasn’t happened here in the regular season in four or five years,” Fitz said. “We didn’t want that to happen again. We’ve got great kids. When you challenge them, they respond.”

Sanders won the 100, 200 and 400 and was named Sprints MVP. Carson’s Brenden Westbrook, who won the long jump and placed in the high jump and triple jump, was named Field MVP. Carson’s Zachary Marchinko, who cruised in the 3,200, topped Honeycutt in a ferocious 1,600, and helped Carson win the 4×800, was crowned Distance MVP.

North Rowan’s Alexis Archie won the shot put. North Rowan’s Michael Streater won the high jump. West Rowan’s Juwan Houston took the 110 hurdles. West Rowan’s Kevin Galliard nipped Houston in the 300 hurdles, passing his teammate when Houston sailed in the air a split-second longer bounding over the final hurdle.

Carson’s Tyler Mason threw 139 feet, 1 inch and won the discus by an inch over North Rowan’s Keance Miller.

West Rowan won the 4×200, but East Rowan, with Little doing great work, won the 4×100.

East Rowan also got a win from Honeycutt in the 800 (2:01.59) and a victory in the triple jump from football star Max Wall.

It was still tight between East Rowan and West Rowan until the pole vault results were posted. The Mustangs went 1-2-3 there, with senior Marshall Shank clearing 14 feet to win. Teammates Lee Sharum and Jake Boltz followed. That meant 24 unanswered points in an event where the Falcons had zero.

“We did what we needed to do where we expected to do well,” Fitz said. “The pole vault put us over the top.”

For Shank, it was a sweet victory. Rowan County champion as a freshman and sophomore, he didn’t clear a height in the county meet as a junior.

“This was redemption,” Shank said.

For all the Mustangs, including Honeycutt who plans to enter military service rather than compete in college, it was a day they’ll remember with pride.

“This one felt a little different than the others because I’ve got so much experience now,” Honeycutt said. “The seniors weren’t going to let it get away.”

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