Pam Pack boys win first Eastern Plains Conference title

Published 11:17 pm Wednesday, April 9, 2014




In its first year in the Class 2-A Eastern Plains Conference, the Washington track and field team confidently walked on to its home turf Wednesday morning with aspirations of a conference title. Seven hours later, a squad that began as a medley of individual runners could be found huddled up as one, cheering as the loud speaker announced the boys final point total of 201, a score that resolutely handed the Pam Pack their first Eastern Plains Conference Championship.

“I’m thrilled with the effort we got today,” said head coach Jon Blank. “Most of our kids gave a personal-record effort. We saw a lot of great times, we got a lot of gold medals in individual events and obviously at the end of the day, our boys are conference champions and our girls came from a last place finish in the conference last year to third this year.”

For the first three hours, all six teams battled it out to qualify their best runners for the second half of the day. Afterwards, the conference championship would come down to a variety of events over three hours span on a beautiful April afternoon.

In the field, the Washington boys were outmuscled in the discus throw, as North Johnston’s Devin Walker took gold, Southwest Edgecombe’s Fabrion Bandy took silver and Beddingfield’s Nigel Barnes secured a bronze for the Bruins. The Pam Pack boys also failed to medal in the shot put, as Farmville Central’s Edward Davis took gold.

Karim Topping came just once place away from medaling in the boys triple jump, falling to Farmville Central’s Anthony Chapman, who won gold by the slimmest of margins. It was a different story in the long jump, however, as Washington’s Javon Whitney took home a gold medal, Stevie Green, just a few fractions of an inch behind his teammate, secured silver and Topping managed to earn some hardware with a bronze medal.

While North Pitt had a similar three-medalist result in the pole vault, Green propelled himself above the competition with a gold medal in the high jump. For the girls, the only Pam Pack field medalist was Caitlin Hales, who won silver in the high jump.

Throughout the season, the Washington girls track team has consistently placed athletes in the top three of most events with first-place finishes being more of a rarity. On Wednesday, it was business as usual.

With a time of 6:36.20, Sarah Jennings placed third in the 1600-meter run. Callie Landen locked up the Washington girls’ only gold-medal finish with an impressive time of 14:47.87 in the grueling 3200-meter run. In the same event, Jennings placed third with a time of 15:09.01.

Where the girls fortified their top-three finish was in the hurdles. Cierra Hales and Bryce Minor earned second- and third-place finishes in the 100-meter hurdles, respectively, and Hales also notched a bronze in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 56.83.

“We’re young, and I think that our girls have great potential,” said Blank. “I’m looking forward to them fulfilling that.”

On the other hand, the boys had a day to remember. Arguably the most exciting and most popular track event, the 100-meter dash, featured two Pam Pack sprinters on the podium. After a photo finish, Markel Spencer fell just .02 of a second short of a first place finish, while Jarquez Keyes won bronze for the Pack.

Up the ante. In the 200-meter dash, Washington again found two of its boys in the top three. Spencer added to his medal county with a goal medal, finishing with a time of 22.33. North Pitt’s Diamonte Foreman took silver, while Keyes again found himself hoisting a bronze.

Following suit, Washington’s Stepfon Rodman decisively won the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.83, edging the next closest sprinter by over a second. Myron Brooks took bronze with a time of 51.84.

The Pam Pack continued their dominance in the distance runs. Raquan Davis won the 800-meter run with a time of 2.09.10 and Willie Smith locked up a bronze, finishing in 2:11.86. In the 1600, Washington’s go-to distance runner, Victor Santos, notched a time of 4:59.17, good enough for silver, but in the 3200-meter run, Santos missed medaling by just three seconds.

The most competitive event of the evening came in the 110-meter hurdles, where five of the seven competitors had photo finishes. However, once the exact final times were calculated, Washington’s Stevie Green proved to be the gold medalist with a time of 16.05, just .03 of a second ahead of his teammate, Tarahje Burke, who locked up silver.

The Pam Pack held a slight lead due to their success in the individual events, but it was the team’s performance in the relays that sealed the deal. The team won gold medals in the 4×200-meter, 4×400-meter and 4×800-meter relays. Blank, who rarely shows emotion in the heat of a meet, could not help to crack a smile upon seeing the results.

Overall, Beddingfield finished in second with 113 points, while North Pitt ended in third place. For the girls, North Pitt edged Beddingfield for the conference championship with 143 points. Green won Most Valuable Player honors in the field. All runners and field athletes who earned gold or silver medals are considered All-Conference performers.

With regionals and states on the horizon, the season is hardly over for the Pack.

“We still a month of the season left essentially,” Blank said. “State is May 10. At this point, that’s what we’re gearing up for. Next week is a tune up for state. At regionals, we know we can go there and compete, but we have to be sharp. As long as we’re sharp for the next couple weeks, states is in our grasp.”

Washington hits the road next week in its last scheduled meet of the season against South Central. Class 2-A regionals are set to begin on May 3.

“We need to have great focus, and of course our numbers start to dwindle down, so we can really focus on the individual techniques and really fine tune everything,” Blank said.