Newark, Glasgow students win state track titles
The Christina School District now boasts two of the fastest high schoolers in the First State.
Glasgow’s Ja ’Saan Cunningham and Newark’s Chidera Egeonu raced to the individual state titles in the 100-meter and 400, respectively, at the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
“Being a state champion means a lot,” Cunningham said after capturing the Division II title with a time of 11.10 seconds. “It’s something everyone in track wants to accomplish. But it did hurt when the team can’t win. Seeing the guys that worked all season who didn’t get a chance to win, I wanted to win for those guys.”
Cunningham’s accomplishment at the Dover High School track on Monday was even more impressive considering that it came after the second day of the state meet was postponed from Saturday to Monday, and then there was a rain delay before the races even started.
“Coach [Terrence] Wilson got us prepared for our races during the rain delays,” Cunningham explained. “He told us to stay focused and to not let anything distract us. We sat as a team stretching and rolling our legs out.”
After sprinting to victory in the 100, Cunningham then anchored Glasgow’s 4x200 relay team (with Martise Younger, Simeon Dailey and Darius Blalock) to a victory. Cunningham also placed second in the running long jump with a leap of 20-10.00. Dailey also raced to a first-place finish in the 400 (51.09) to help lead Glasgow to a fourth-place overall finish.
“I am extremely proud of the boys’ performance,” Glasgow coach Alan Harding said. “We were able to come in and compete with the state’s best and win a number of relays and open events. This year, we were able to have a number of new athletes contribute.”
The district’s other speedster, Egeonu, rallied from the disappointment of missing the indoor championship meet after suffering a hamstring injury in the final meet of the regular season. The senior not only captured first place in the 400 (49.62), but finished second in the 100 (11.14) and 200 (22.63), and anchored the 4x400 relay team that included sophomore Brichon Shepard and seniors Greg Biddle and Karim Dunn to a first-place finish (3:24.60).
“Being a state champion is something I’ve always dreamed about since I started running,” Egeonu said. “Hard work and dedication is something I’ve always believed in and I was glad that all of the practices finally showed on the track.”
Newark coach Mike Mooney said Egeonu had a “remarkable day.”
“He has been healthy and strong all season,” Mooney said. “He proved he could do [all four events] at the conference meet, and he was confident going into states.”
Newark finished fifth overall.
On the girls’ side, Glasgow captured the Div. II title in the 4x200 (1:46.65).
“The quartet executed solid relay baton exchanges and ran swiftly while overcoming the competition in their field to win the championship,” Glasgow coach Alan Duncan said of junior Feyi Solanke, sophomore Ashley Pearce, senior Desire Singleton and freshman Kayla Moody.
Pearce also placed second in the 100 (25.71) and 200 (57.63).
Newark’s Rachel Beston finished her stellar high school career with a secondplace finish in the 3,200 (11:13.13) and placed third in the 1,600 (5:11.10).
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said Beston, who will run at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’ve had such a great experience running in Delaware and being a part of Newark High track and cross country. Although I will miss my teammates, coaches and competitors, I’m very excited to start the next chapter of my life.”
Newark Charter sophomore Lillian Peterson placed second in the 1,600 (5:17.56). The Patriots’ 4x800 relay team of freshman MacKenzie Smith, junior Bianca Joseph, sophomore Lillian Peterson and junior Heather Callahan, placed third (10:16.98).
Christiana freshman Cierra Brown placed second with a shot put of 32-09.75 and freshman Ta’vio Rider placed third in the 110 hurdles (15.92).
Salesianum and Padua captured the Division I team titles. In Division II, there was a tie for first place for the first time in the 75-year history of the state meet with Tatnall and St. Georges sharing the boys title and Tatnall capturing the girls championship.
Smyrna captured the Special Olympics Unified Sports championship in a division that included 16 schools, including Newark, Newark Charter and Glasgow. Special Olympics athletes and Unified partners (peers without disabilities) competed in the 100, 4x100 and shot put events.
Newark’s Chidera Egeonu won the 400-meter title at the state track-and-field championship on Monday.