Daniels, Baker WDN’s top track athlete

Published 1:47 am Thursday, May 29, 2008

By By STEVE FRANKLIN, Sports Writer
Washington Track Coach Jon Blank has high praises for senior Travis Daniels.
Blank says Daniels may be the best long jumper or triple jumper to pass through the halls of Washington High School in the last 20 years. He also calls Daniels the area’s best athlete since Terrence Copper, a former Pam Pack football star who graduated in 2001 and now plays for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints.
After the year Daniels had on both the football field and on the track, who can argue?
Daniels racked up more than 2,200 rushing yards and scored 22 touchdowns for the Pam Pack football team this fall to earn all-conference honors and capture the Washington Daily News’ Football Athlete of the Year award.
This spring, he turned his attention to track &field and came home from the N. C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A State track &Field Championships with a bronze medal around his neck after placing fourth in the triple jump. It was the first medal earned by a Pam Pack track star in more than a decade. For his accomplishments, Daniels has been named the Washington Daily News’ Male Track &Field Athlete of the Year.
Daniels was the leading point scorer for the Washington track team and qualified for the Class 3-A state meet in three different events — the long jump, the triple jump, and the 4×200-meter relay.
At the state championships, Daniels leaped more than a foot-and-a-half better than career-best in the triple jump to earn his bronze medal. He leaped 45-feet, 9-inches at the state meet to top his previous best of 44-feet, 3-inches.
Besides his fourth in the triple jump, Daniels also advanced to the finals of the long jump for a second straight year and wound up ninth. He was also part of the 4×200-meter relay team that ended up finishing 11th at the state meet.
Now that Daniels high school athletic career is over, he’s turning his attention to college football, where he hopes to make an immediate impact at UNC-Pembroke.
Baker named top female track athlete
Mary Baker defied the odds all season long.
After winning bronze medals for the shot put at the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A State Track &Field Championships as a freshman and sophomore, the Southside senior thrower took the 2007 season off to concentrate on academics, leaving her track &field career in jeopardy.
This season, she elected to give her track &field career another try, but had to do so with a busy schedule.
Last fall, Baker enrolled in the cosmetology program at Beaufort County Community College and has tried to balance a full-time high school schedule, with her part-time college duties. With her cosmetology courses taking place from 1:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, Baker couldn’t practice with the team.
After missing an entire year, being burdened with a demanding schedule, and with no time to practice, Baker’s odds of getting a medal were miniscule at best.
But two days a week, the Seahawks’ senior would skip lunch and venture out to the throwing circles where she’d hurl the shot put and discus for half an hour with track coach Dr. Everett Phillips.
Her hectic schedule only allowed her to compete in four events, but Baker made the most of her opportunities as she captured the Atlantic Conference Championship in both the shot put and discus, won a regional championship in the discus, was the regional runner-up in the shot put, earned a bronze medal at the state championships in the discus and placed sixth in the state meet in the shot put.
After an impressive 2008 campaign, Baker has been named the Washington Daily News’ Female Track Athlete of the Year.
Baker threw a career best 110-feet, 7-inches in the discus at the regional meet, and also had a career-best throw of 34-feet, 11-inches in the shot put at the Atlantic Conference Championships.
After graduating next month, Baker will continue with the cosmetology program at Beaufort County Community College for another year, and then hopes to transfer to a four-year institution to get her degree in business management. She’s got big dreams for her life. Some of which have already come true.