High school boys track and field: State champ Julian leads All-Rowan County team

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 9, 2024


By Mike London

LANDIS — When he was 8 years old, Eli Julian was running against the wind in Texas and he mastered national-level competition in Augusta, Ga.

He was honored as an All-American after both of those races, and when you’re an 8-year-old All-American, not only is the bar set very high for your running career, you say goodbye early in life to idle TV nights and candy bars. As a 10-year-old, Julian already had the discipline of a sergeant in the armed forces.

Somehow, Julian has lived up to the powerful pressure and huge hype that has been present for half of his life, winning state titles — four of them — and earning a scholarship to Liberty University, the school where he found the best fit for his faith and his academics, as well as his track and field goals.

A pile of trophies and a sea of accolades has washed over Julian during his high school career at South Rowan, where he’s been coached mostly by Tyler Downs, but through it all, he’s managed to balance both a competitive fire and a gentle spirit. There’s still quite a bit of humbleness about him. Every time he receives a ‘Congrats, you’re the player of the year!” text, he is excited and appreciative and seems genuinely surprised.

He really shouldn’t be surprised. Julian had a first place and a second in the 3A State Championships in the outdoor track season and is the choice for the Post’s Rowan County Male Track Athlete of the Year.

This is actually the seventh time Julian has been recognized as the county’s best for a sports season. He’s been honored three times for cross country, twice for indoor track and field and now twice for outdoor track and field.

The county boasted numerous multi-event track guys, but Julian stood out the most.

He won his usual string of county, conference and regional titles to set the stage for his main event — the 3A State Championships at North Carolina A&T.

“It was a hot day for May, and my first event was the 1600 meters at 3 p.m.,” Julian said. “I didn’t really know what to expect, but then some guys took it out really fast right the start. That race didn’t work out for me, and I didn’t quite have the time I wanted, but I was able to hold off a couple of guys and get second place.”

Julian was clocked in 4:17.70.

There was about a two-hour interval for Julian between the 1600 meter run and the 3200.

“My legs were still a little tired for the 3200 (just a bit less than 2 miles), but I was able to position myself well in that race,” Julian said. “Then my instincts took over. With two laps to go, I made a move, and then it was just two of us in a sprint to the finish. The first part of that race was strategic, but it was a very quick finish, as fast as I’ve ever run a closing lap. I ended up with a good time.”

Julian ran 9:26.81, one of the best times ever recorded in the county.

Julian couldn’t quite pull off the 1600/3200 double that he successfully executed in the indoor season, but he left it all on the track in a noble attempt.

The competition is normally stiffer in the spring, as some of the top distance runners take the indoor track season off to recover from the grind of cross country. Even Julian always saw the indoor season mostly as a training ground for the outdoor battles yet to come.

Julian made history. He is the only South Rowan athlete who ever has won a running event in the NCHSAA championship meets. South’s previous male state champs were in the shot put and pole vault outdoors and in the high jump indoors.

Julian is enjoying some down time now, but he’ll be going at it again in earnest by July, as he prepares for Liberty’s cross country season.

“I’m enjoying the rest, but then I’ll start building up again,” Julian said. “I know it’s a big step from high school to college.”


Rowan County had some strength in track and field this year. Carson, which has a strong distance group. finished fifth in the 3A State Championships. Salisbury, which was tough in the relays, placed fifth in the 2A State Championships.

How strong was it? Salisbury finished second behind Carson in the 4×800 in the Robert Steele Memorial Rowan County Track Meet, but the Hornets were the 2A state champs in that event.

The basic criteria for making the All-Rowan County team is running on a winning relay team or placing first or second in an individual event in the county meet. The Post adds a few athletes to that list. Those athletes either were conference champions in that event or scored points with a top-eight finish in the state meet. In a few instances, the members of a relay unit were different in the state meet than the county meet.

All-Rowan County track and field


Eli Julian — 1600, 3200

Grayson Cromer — 800


Jacob Butler — Shot, discus

Oliver Shank — Pol vault

Christian Seballos — Pole vault

Kaleo Tolentino  — Pole vault

Aiden Morris – Long jump

Jordan Brooks — Triple jump


Ayden Blevins — 100

Tristen McBride – Shot, discus

Damir Miller — High jump

Carson Aman — Triple jump

Connor Price — 4×800

James Anderson — 4×800

Eric Gillis — 4×800, 3200

Bricen Burleson — 4×800, 800, 1600

Jorge Clemente-Garcia — 4×800


Harry Hartwell — 110 hurdles

Kaden Feaster — Long jump

Kendrik Cornelius — Triple jump

Brennen Stevenson — 400


Kemyon Oglesby — 110 hurdles, 300 hurdles


Deuce Walker — 100, 200, 4×100, 4×200

Robert Moulton — 300 hurdles

Quincy Robinson — 4×100

Jaylin Johnson — 4×100, 4×200

Jamal Rule — 400, 4×200, 4×400, 4×800

Jaylin Smith — 200, 4×100, 4×200, 4×400

Jeremiah Davidson — 4×400

Samuel Fatovic — 4×400, 4×800

Finnegan Avery — 1600, 4×800

Austin Massaquoi — 4×800

Jordan Waller — 4×200, 4×400

Athlete of the Year — Julian, South

Coach of the Year — Jonathan Lowe, Carson (county champions)