DOBSON — Four Surry County track athletes have qualified for the state 1A/2A indoor championship after two more standout performances at a Polar Bear meet at Surry Central Saturday.
The meet is nicknamed Polar Bear because the outdoor event is usually in cold weather, but Saturday was in the 50s with clear skies, noted Central track coach Jason Bryant.
Saturday was the last day to qualify for an event in the state meet, and two of his students made the cut.
North Surry’s Alex Cooke and Central’s Raymond Salazar already were set for the girls’ and boy’s shot put. Western Piedmont cross country champion Daniel Alvarez, Surry Central, had made the field for the 1,600 meters.
On Saturday, Alvarez added a spot in the 1,000 meters, while teammate Ashlynn Jewell made the grade for the 55-meter hurdles.
North’s Cooke joined Elkin, North Stokes, West Wilkes and Wilkes Central at the Polar Bear meet.
“The numbers were small, but there were some great performances and competition,” said Bryant.
While Cooke is already qualified (and is ranked first in the state), the other five schools taking part all had at least one athlete qualify for an event, he noted.
Jewell, a sophomore, won the 55 hurdles in a time of 9.5 seconds.
Teammate Jess Fowler had her first winter performances in the 55 Hurdles and the 500 m. In the distance event, Fowler just missed the cutoff for the state meet by just 0.7 of a second.
“Freshman Daniel Alvarez showed a widening range of ability in qualifying for the 1,000-meter run,” said Bryant.
“The boys’ 1,000 meter was the race of the day,” he said. “The Wilkes Central coach said that was the best race that he’d seen in a long time.”
Elkin’s Brandon Welborne went out hard and had a 10-yard lead on Daniel through 600 meters, the coach said.
“Both guys were rolling and obviously running hard,” he said.
Bryant said he tells his distance runners to be decisive when they make a move. With 400 meters still left in the race, Alvarez went for it.
That is something a lot of experienced runners wouldn’t try, much less a freshman, said Bryant.
“Over the next 200 meters Daniel got a 10-yard lead for himself,” said Bryant. Sometimes a strong move like that will break the spirit of the runner in second place, but Welborne never quit.
“Brandon shifted gears for a final kick and closed the gap on the curve,” he said.
“It looked like he would go by Daniel on the final straightaway, but Daniel threw it into that final gear. Both guys were in flight sprinting to the finish.”
Alvarez won by just one-fifth of a second at 2:45.3 to 2:45.5.
“That ranks them at fifth and sixth going into the 1A/2A Indoor State Meet,” said the coach.
“Daniel’s time is also the second-fastest freshman in the 1,000 meters for all classifications to go along with a first-ranked 1,600-meter freshman time and a fifth-ranked 3,200-meter freshman time.”
“It was great to watch a race where neither guy ever gave up, giving everything right through the finish,” he added.
Senior Danielle Dunn ran another personal best in the 1,600 m of 6:50.3 and just barely missed winning as she was outkicked in the last 50 meters.
“Danielle’s improvement over the past two years in impressive,” said Bryant. “She is such an example of persistent hard work and how an athlete should stay focused on their own progress toward a goal. I am personally inspired seeing her accomplishments and how she does it.”
Dunn also finished second in the 3,200 m in 15:39.5.
Central’s Lora McDevitt also ran a personal best in the 1,600 m with 7:36.4.
Other qualifying performances from Saturday were Elkin’s Jacob Parker in the Boys 3,200 m with 10:28.8 and Shakai Ward in the Girls 300 m with 42.94. North Stokes’ Shalynn Brown in the Girls Long Jump with 15’2”. West Wilkes’ Meghen Breeden in the Pole Vault with 9’6” and in the Long Jump with 15’6”. Wilkes Central’s Makayla Estep in the 500 m with 1:24.2.