High school track and field: North is back in championship mode
SPENCER — There’s been a resurgence in track and field at North Rowan.
It’s a legendary program that has produced 11 state champion boys teams outdoors, as well as four girls team champions.
The last state title for the girls was in 2010, while the last triumph at the state level for the boys came in 2012.
Aaron Young, a thrower back in the Cavaliers’ glory days under coach Robert Steele, still holds the sweet memory of taking the 2003 2A state title.
Young came home to North Rowan two years ago. He assists in football and is head coach of the track program for boys and girls.
“These are hard-working kids,” Young said. “I’m sure they’ve inspired me more than I’ve inspired them.”
Both North Rowan teams won 1A Yadkin Valley Conference Tournament champions earlier this week.
The girls team is keyed by freshmen Aniya Brown, Tai’lah Ward and Brittany Ellis.
“Those three are regional qualifiers in multiple events,” Young said. “They’re pretty top-notch. We’re talking about very talented kids.”
In the YVC Championships, Ward won the 100, placed second in the long jump and 100 hurdles and was third in the 300 hurdles. Brown won the 200 and both hurdling events and was second in the triple jump. Ellis won the shot put and the discus.
While the girls team is paced by freshmen, the boys team has a blend of youth and experience and has considerable depth in the dashes and jumps.
Hurdlers Tyshaun Pratt and Tsion Delaney have posted the best times in 1A this season.
Pratt also excels in the long jump.
Kendrell Goodes is a regional qualifier in the long jump and high jump. Goodes has high-jumped 6 feet, 6 inches, tied for the best mark in 1A.
Sprinters Devin Kendall, Amari McArthur and Kemon O’Kelly are always threats to go 1-2-3.
“McArthur and O’Kelly are young guys who can be about as good as they want to be,” Young said.
North has enough sprint depth that is has qualified for the regional in the 4×100 and 4×200.
Both relatively small North teams placed third in the Rowan County Championships, mostly because of a lack of distance people, but Young liked the way his teams competed.
“For some of the kids, it was the first time they’d competed in front of a big crowd,” he said. “We didn’t back down from anyone. We ran hard. I thought we rose to the occasion pretty well.”
North is preparing now for the 1A Midwest Regional that will be held at Davie County on June 18.
That’s the last stepping stone before state competition at North Carolina A&T.
“We’re looking good and feeling good,” Young said. “The hope is to make an impact.”
North Piedmont Conference qualifiers will compete in the 3A West Regional at TC Roberson in the Asheville area on June 18.
Central Carolina Conference qualifiers will compete in the 2A Midwest Regional at Surry Central on June 19.