High school boys track: Carson is back-to-back county champ

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 27, 2024

By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY — The journey to Carson’s first county championship in boys track and field was a marathon, but now the Cougars have sprinted to back-to-back titles.

Carson won Thursday’s Robert Steele Memorial Rowan County Track Meet with 158 points. Salisbury placed second with 120, with 92 of those coming from the sprints and relays. Next were East (88), West (80), North (58) and South (49).

“Carson had never won this even until last year, so two in a row feels really good,” Carson head coach Jonathan Lowe said. “We had an incredible effort from a lot of people, and this is just a credit to the great multi-sport athletes we have at Carson.”

Lowe and assistant coach Zachary Marchinko had studied the results throughout the track season and were certain it would come down to Carson and Salisbury.

“We figured it would be a five-point meet that could go either way,” Lowe said. “Salisbury has a bunch of guys who can flat-out run, but what we’ve got is depth. Something I learned from Coach Rick Roseman when I was competing at East Rowan was that you win big meets like this by getting three guys in every event. We almost were able to do that today. We had three in everything except the hurdles, and we had two guys in those.”

Carson’s depth prevailed. The Cougars scored across the board, in prints, hurdles, jumps, relays, throws and especially distance, where Marchinko’s crew — they were third in 3A in cross country — accounted for 54 of Carson’s points.

The Cougars won bigger than they thought possible because there were surprises, such as Tristen McBride finishing second in both throws for 16 massive points. The football star posted PRs in both events.

“Tristen is a gamer,” Lowe said.

Damir Miller won the high jump for Carson, clearing the bar at 6 feet, 2 inches.

Carson Aman didn’t have quite as amazing a meet as he had last spring when he won three events and propelled the Cougars to the championship, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t all over the place — second in the high jump, third in the triple and long jumps and fourth in the 400. He accounted for 24 points.

The distance guys did what they were expected to do.

The Cougars ran 1-3-4 in the 800 for 20 points. Bricen Burleson won the event, while Connor Price and James Anderson placed.

Carson went 2-3-4 in the 3200 with Eric Gillis, Jorge-Clemente Garcia and Burleson placing behind South’s record-setting Eli Julian.

In the 1600, the Cougars were 2-3-5, with Burleson, Gillis and Clemente-Garcia placing.

“As head football coach, I’ve got a good relationship with our football guys and my job as track coach is to get them to the field,” Lowe said. “But Marchinko provides a lot of the brain power for this team, and his distance guys were amazing.”

Another key to Carson’s victory was freshman sprinter Ayden Blevins. He was second in the 100 and helped Carson finish second in the 4×100 and third in the 4×200.

“He’s a kid who only did track this year,” Lowe said. “He hawked some people down in the relays. He’s got a chance to be one of the best sprinters Carson’s ever had.”

Salisbury’s effort was led by Deuce Walker, a Division I football recruit headed to Georgia State. He had a 4-for-4 day.

Walker, Sprints MVP, won the 100 in 11.16 and the 200 in 22.46, an event in which he nipped teammate Jaylyn Smith.

Walker ran with Quincy Robinson, Jaylin Johnson and Smith on the 4×100 relay winner and teamed with Johnson, Smith and Jamal Rule to win the 4×200.

Rule, the electrifying running back, won his individual specialty, the 400, in 49.69 seconds, a top 50 time in the state. Rule, Smith, Samuel Fatovic and Jeremiah Davidson won the 4×400 for the Hornets.

Field Events MVP Jacob Butler led East’s third-place finish. Butler swept the throws, winning the shot put with an effort of 47 feet, 8 inches and taking the discus with a fling of 119 feet, 4 inches. Tim Grooms had a third and a fourth for the Mustangs in the throws.

The Mustangs also did well in the jumps. Jordan Brooks (42-1) handily won the triple jump. Mustangs Oliver Shank and Christian Seballos went 1-2 in the pole vault.

West Rowan’s points came mostly from the jumps and the two hurdling events.

Kaden Feaster won the long jump with an effort of 20 feet, 4 inches to edge East’s Aiden Morris and Carson’s Aman by 2 inches. Kendrik Cornelius was second in the triple jump. Harry Hartwell had a second and third in the hurdles.

North Rowan’s standout was Kemyon Oglesby, who won both hurdling events with PRs. He clocked 15.66 seconds in the 100 hurdles and 40.39 in the 300 hurdles.

South Rowan’s 49 points came mostly from distance and featured record-breaking performances by Distance MVP Julian in both of his individual events.

His 9:44 time in the 3200 broke his own meet record.

The Liberty recruit’s 4:23.96 clocking in the 1600 broke a long-standing mark set by West Rowan’s Jeff Hutchinson. Hutchinson had a remarkable county meet in 1980, winning the 800, 1600 and 3200. He was timed in 4:24.46 in the 1600, a mark that lasted for county meets for two generations.

South got a PR and a second-place finish in the 800 from Grayson Cromer, a recent commit to East Tennessee State.

But it was Carson’s day. The Cougars are kings of county track for the second straight year.

“No Gatorade bath,” Lowe said with a laugh. “But the county trophy is plenty. It was a phenomenal day to be a Cougar.”