Indoor track could serve as prelude for spring

Indoor track could serve as prelude for spring
February 25
00:00 2016
 Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee- Parkland quarter-miler Lorenzo Graise expects to contend for a state title in the 400 this spring.


This year’s state indoor track and field championships are history. So, now is a good time to take a retrospective look at what transpired. In doing so, we can get some insight on what might be in store for the upcoming outdoor season.

McKinley McNeill of Parkland is a good starting point. The newly-crowned state indoor champ at 500 meters is poised to launch an assault on the state record in the open 400.

Keep in mind that not only is McNeill the defending state 400 champ, but she’s just .25 seconds shy of erasing the current mark of 54.07 seconds set by Sanura Eley-O’Reilly of Fayetteville Britt in 2009.

Setting a new record is a reachable goal for McNeill, who ran a personal best of 53.40 in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals last June. But in order to own a new state record, McNeill must eclipse Eley-O’Reilly’s time at the state championships in May.

McNeill, who has signed with North Carolina, got off to a late start with her training this season. She delayed the start of training in order to make multiple recruiting visits to several schools that were eager to sign her. Once she’s completely fit, it seems that only injury or complacency would prevent her from entering the record books.

Parkland girls:

As for the Mustangs as a team, they aren’t likely to win a third straight team title. But they are deep enough and skilled enough to score enough points to finish among the top three. At the indoor championships, they fell short of that goal, and ended up fourth in the final team standings.

The sprint relays are key events for Parkland and this spring will be no different. The foursome of Jahnae Bowman, Shanone Cannon, Kimani Davis and Zjinaiya Francis barely missed out on a second-place finish at the state.

In the 4×200 relay, Parkland clocked 1 minute 45.26 seconds for third, which was only .01 seconds behind second-place High Point Central. Whether this crew can successfully challenge state champ Southeast Raleigh is anyone’s guess.

The outlook in the 4×400 relay is the same. Although Southeast Raleigh is clearly dominant, the Mustangs should prove to be viable contenders to finish no worst than second at the state outdoor meet in late May. The team of McNeill, Davis, Cannon and Francis ran 3:59.97 to claim the runner-up spot in that relay at the state indoor meet.

Spartans’ newcomer:

One of the more surprising performances at the state championships was delivered by Charnessa Reid, a sophomore hurdler and long jumper at Mount Tabor. Reid raised a few eyebrows with her medal-winning, third-place finish in the 55-meter hurdles (8.30 seconds).

At this point in her career, there is a lot of upside. That’s because she’s just beginning to improve her technique. As Reid gains more experience, there’s no question that in time, she could develop as a legitimate challenger for a state title.

Reid didn’t fare as well in the long jump at states. While she didn’t medal (finish among the top four) as a jumper, she did place eighth, which is not bad for a still budding novice. In her case, it appears to be all a matter of how much work she wants to put in to elevate her skill set to another level.

On the rise:

Based on the results from the winter season, it’s clear that Parkland’s boys’ team is on the rise. Quarter-miler Lorenzo Graise is expected make a strong push for the outdoor 400 title. He ran well during the indoor season and more than held his own at the state meet with a third-place finish in the 500.

Graise (1:06.79) was in contention from start to finish in an intensely-contested race. The top three runners (Joshua Cooper of Charlotte Ardrey Kell, William Hoffman of Cary Green Hope, and Graise) were separated by .47 seconds.

In the 4×400 relay, the Mustangs are indeed for real. They won the relay at last year’s Central Piedmont Conference outdoor championships. But now, this relay is proving itself worthy against the best.

At the state indoor meet, Trequan Barnes, Graise, Chris Hayes and Braxton Ford showed that the Mustangs figure to be in the thick of the chase to win the 4×400 at the state outdoor meet.

Ford put together a gritty anchor leg which helped Parkland (3:27.56) go from third to second place behind champ Green Hope (3:26.64).

Formidable jumper:

By the time the high school outdoor season ends in May, Jordan Johnson of East Forsyth could prove to be the best long jumper in the state. For now, though, he’s close.

At the state indoor championships, Johnson battled Marcus Krah of Durham Hillside for supremacy. In the end, Krah (22-feet, 4 ¾ inches) prevailed over Johnson, who came in second at 22-feet, 4 inches.

This spring, Johnson looks to rise in the rankings in the triple jump. He was seventh at the state meet.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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