Ne­wark, Glas­gow stu­dents win state track ti­tles

Newark Post - - Sports - By JON BUZBY jon­buzby@hot­mail.com

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.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ne­wark’s Chidera Egeonu won the 400-me­ter ti­tle at the state track-and-field cham­pi­onship on Mon­day.

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