Track winners gearing up for championships

Track winners gearing up for championships
April 16
00:00 2015
(Above: Photos by Craig T. Greenlee- Three Brent Invitational champs squared off in the boys 200. West Forsyth’s Breon Jenkins (second from right) won the 200. Brian Sessoms of Carver (middle) won the 100 and Chace Washington-Saunders of Reagan (second from left) won the 400.)

West Forsyth pulled off a satisfying double in winning the boys’ and girls’ team titles at the Scott Brent Track and Field Invitational held last weekend at Mount Tabor.

“The Brent” is also known as the Forsyth County Championships. It’s the one meet during the season in which all the public high schools in the county compete against one another.

Even though the Brent is considered one of the season’s highlights, it also serves as a building block for the remainder of the season. Now, these track athletes turn their attention to their respective conference championships scheduled over the next two weeks. The Piedmont area has several athletes who appear in the state rankings on the NC Runners website (


In retrospect, the boys’ 200-meter dash turned out to be a race of county champions. Carver’s Brian Sessoms was expected to repeat his double as 100/200 champ from a year ago. Sessoms won the 100 in a tightly-contested race over West Forsyth’s Breon Jenkins with wind-aided 10.88 seconds.

Jenkins bounced back to even the score in the 200. He closed with a rush over the final 20 meters to win by a step over Sessoms. Jenkins was clocked in at 21.98 (wind-aided).

Sessoms and Jenkins will not have a rematch. Carver (2-A) and West Forsyth (4-A) compete in different conferences and they’re in different classifications. Because of that, the schools won’t face each other in the same regional and state championships.

The boys’ 200 featured another Brent winner, Chace Washington-Saunders of Reagan who claimed the gold by winning the 400 earlier in the day. Washington-Saunders won the 400 easily in 49.0 and finished third in the 200 (22.34 wind-aided).

With the track season entering its final month, Washington-Saunders has the look of a legitimate contender for a state outdoor title. He ran 48.48 earlier this season, which is the second-fastest in North Carolina.

East Forsyth’s Isis Brooks was a multiple winner at the Brent (100 meters/200 meters /300-meter hurdles). Still, Brooks could be hard pressed to pull off a triple at the Piedmont Triad Conference Championships.

Brooks (12.31 seconds in the 100; 25.42 in the 200)) will face-off against two of the area’s best sprinters in High Point Central’s Tamara Clark and Charla Ward of Ragsdale. Clark has a hand-held time of 11.54, which is the fastest in the state.

The outlook for Brooks in the 300 hurdles is very favorable. She’ll enter the PTC Championships as the No. 1 seed whose time of 47.65 seconds is by far the fastest in the conference this season. Brooks’ closest rival is Nascha Blue of Glenn, who she defeated convincingly at the county meet.

Middle distance races

In the boys’ 800, Vernon Espinoza of West Forsyth and Mount Tabor’s Kenny Kniesel will be primed to win at the Central Piedmont Conference Championships. Both are ranked among the state’s top 10. Espinoza is No. 4 at 1 minute, 56.15 seconds and Kniesel is eighth at 1:57.30. At the Brent, Espinoza called on his 400-meter sprinter’s speed to pull away in the late stages of the race.

Perhaps the most intriguing match-up at the CPC meet could be the girls’ 800. Parkland’s McKinley McNeill (2:20.30) is a 400 specialist who runs the 800 from time to time. Whether or not she competes in this race at the conference is anyone’s guess.

If she does run the 800, McNeill will most likely face a stiff challenge from versatile sophomore Tiara Patterson-Mills of Mount Tabor (2:21.85). That doesn’t mean that it will be a two-runner race race. Ellen Spencer and Mackenzie Newsome of West Forsyth will contend for top honors.

The girls’ 4×800 relay should deliver some pulsating moments. Mount Tabor rates as the pre-race favorite. The Spartans foursome of Jenna Lineberry, Leah Messenkopf, Emily Reichert and Patterson-Mills clocked 9:57.86 to win at the Brent. Even so, with conference bragging rights on the line, Reagan (10:03.12) and West Forsyth (10:19.10) will push the Spartans to the limit.

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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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