Winston-Salem Prep’s girls rise to state outdoor track and field champions

Winston-Salem Prep’s girls rise to state outdoor track and field champions
May 21
00:00 2015

In the photo above: Winston-Salem Prep, Class 1-A girls state track champs (Photo by Craig T. Greenlee)

     They’re baaaaack!

     After a six-year absence, Winston-Salem Prep’s girls are back in the saddle as Class 1-A state outdoor track and field champs. The Phoenix totaled 64 points to secure the team title at the state meet last Friday in Greensboro. Prep outlasted the Community School of Davidson County (56) and Swain County (48) in the chase for the championship trophy.

     The Phoenix generated all of its points from the efforts of two individuals and two sprint relay teams – five people in all.

     Deonica Reid, who has signed with Campbell University, ruled the 100 and 200-meter dashes and added a second-place finish in the long jump. Ashya Smith delivered as the state runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. The Phoenix put its personal stamp on the meet with dominant victories in the 4×100 and 4×200 relay.

     “This was an ideal day for us,” said first-year coach David Lindsay. “There were a lot of personal best performances and our kids took it on home. Everybody did exactly what we asked of them.”

     Aside from Reid and Smith, the Phoenix got valuable input from Reid’s younger sister De’ja, along with Loriane Forman and Malaysia Albright. Even though De’ja suffered a torn ACL less than a year ago, she healed quickly and established herself as a prime figure in both relays.

     “I can’t say enough about De’ja’s comeback and how she’s competed at such a high level in spite of coming off a serious injury,” said Lindsay. “Loriane, who is our lead runner for both relays, does an excellent job of pushing the stick through the zone and getting out fast. Malaysia has only been with us for about four weeks, but she’s really helped out in the 4×100.”

     Looking back on the state championships, Deonica Reid was most pleased with her performance in the 200. Before the start, she felt ill, but willed her way through the race. Deonica won in 25.36 seconds to beat Walkertown rival Aaliyah Craft. “The 200 was the most satisfying win,” she said. “Right before the race, I felt sick, so I was glad to run a personal best and make it to the finish line.”  
     In the 100 finals, Deonica seized control from the start and was never pressed. She crossed the line in 12.43 seconds, a few strides ahead of runner-up Jessica Norman of Littleton Northwest Halifax (12.64). “I felt like I was kind of floating,” she said. “But since I won, I can’t be mad about that.”

     Deonica had hopes of winning four gold medals. But those hopes vanished in the long jump, which was decided by a mere three inches. Vanisha Wilshire of Louisburg won the event with a leap of 18-feet, and Deonica was next with a jump of 17-feet, 10 inches. “I don’t believe I did anything wrong (that caused me to finish second),” she said. “What happened is that she (Whilshire) just had a very good day.”

     The performance of Smith, a sophomore, is a clear signal that despite Deonica Reid’s graduation, the track and field outlook for Prep is bright. She’s much-improved in the hurdles and has stepped up as a key member on both relay teams. Smith’s showing from last Friday represents quite a turnaround from a year ago, when she failed to place among the state’s top eight.

      Smith set some lofty goals for this year’s state competition, which included giving Kylie Polsgrove of Avery County all she could handle in both hurdles races. That was a tall order, since Polsgrove is a three-time state outdoor champ in both events.
     In the 100 hurdles, Smith stayed in contention, but Polsgrove ran 14.94 seconds, while Smith clocked 15.54. The end result was the same in the 300 hurdles. Polsgrove won in 45.49 and Smith earned the silver medal with a time of 48.23.

     “It feels good (being state runner-up),” said Smith, who was a back-up forward on Winston-Salem Prep’s state-championship basketball team. “My goal was to beat Kylie, but I’m glad that she’s a senior and I’m a sophomore. I still have some time to catch up to her (times) and do what she’s been able to do.

    “This year, every thing worked so much better for me … better technique, better form. It made a huge difference.”

     Prep’s ownership of the relay races was never more evident than in the 4×100. It was the fourth year in a row that the Phoenix won the title. Forman, Smith, De’ja Reid and Albright ran a season-best of 50.45 seconds and Pamlico County was distant second at 51.16.

     De’ja Reid turned the relay into a one-sided affair when she jetted to take a 7-meter lead on the third leg. Albright got the baton on her anchor leg and added to that lead.  “We did our best and ran our fastest time of the year,” said De’ja Reid. “I left everything out on the track and was able to push my teammates so they could give it their best.”

    The win in the 4×200 was especially satisfying in light of what transpired in the 2014 state meet. The heavily-favored Phoenix was disqualified for a lane violation. This year, it was a vastly different result. Forman, Smith and the Reid sisters clocked 1:45.03 to win easily over Pamlico County again (1:48.19).

State championship notes

      Atkins: Triple jumper Llyric Mack delivered as expected in her specialty. Entering the state meet, she had the second-best jump in the state and was seeded second. Mack challenged for the top spot, but wasn’t able to alter the expected order of finish. Wilshire won with a leap of 39-feet, 4 inches and Mack was next at 36-feet, 7 inches.

     “I’m happy with my performance,” Mack said. “But since I’m a junior, I still have another year left, so I’m going for 40-feet so I can set a new state record. I was hoping to jump 37 (feet) today, but my ankle started bothering me and I just gave it all I had on my last jump. I scratched, but that’s OK, I’m satisfied for now. When next year comes, it’ll be my turn.”
     Mack also placed eighth in the long jump (15-feet, 7 inches).

     In the shot put, Ronald Brown nailed down fourth place with a toss of 46-feet 5½ inches. …  The boys’ 4×400 relay team made some inroads at the state meet. The Camels foursome (Jeremy Kankula, Tony Davis, Maiz Lawson and Haywood Peebles) benefited from Kankula’s strong lead-off leg, which set the tone for a fourth-place finish (3 minutes, 32.62 seconds).

     Walkertown: Craft had visions of pulling off a double in the 100 and 200 sprints in her final high school track meet. It was last spring when she raised quite a few eyebrows with a stunning victory over Deonica Reid in the 200 at the state championships.

     This time it was a different outcome. Craft finished second in the 200 (25.66) and third in the 100 (12.72). “I felt I did well today,” said Craft, who has a track scholarship at Winston-Salem State. “But at the same time, I know I could’ve done better. With the training I had at Walkertown, it made me a stronger runner in the 200 and 400. Those are the races that I’m most likely to focus on in college.”

    Craft also scored points with a seventh-place finish in the high jump (4-feet-10 inches). …  In the boys? 4×800 relay, the Wolfpack quartet of Matthew Rogers, Logan Carter, Donwill Mason and Ryan Carter finished fourth (8:38.88).  

    Jacob Cobb of Winston-Salem Prep ran 23.24 seconds in the 200-meter dash, which was good for seventh place.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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