DANBURY —If what happened a year ago is any indication, the Mount Airy boys’ track team will be celebrating again soon.
A year ago, the Granite Bears traveled to conference rival North Stokes for the Northwest 1A Conference championship meet and finished third, behind Walkertown and the host schools. However, the state championships two weeks later were another story entirely, as Mount Airy edged out the Vikings in the last hundred meters of the last event of the day, and claimed the state title.
This time around, Walkertown repeated as conference boys’ champ, but the Wolfpack had to share it this time. Mount Airy equaled Walkertown with 149 points in that half of the meet. On the girls’ side, the Lady Bears weren’t able to defend their title, scoring 76 points to place third behind North Stokes (165) and Winston-Salem Prep (83).
East Surry finished seventh in both the boys’ and girls’ portions of the meet.
Even though Walkertown tied Mount Airy for first at the conference level, it is still thought that the Bears are strong favorites to be the top NW1A team at the state meet, since the Bears have a number of elite performers who will likely score high even against the top competition the state’s 1A ranks have to offer. Indeed, Mount Airy trounced the competition in a number of events, and its athletes will be high seeds in upcoming regionals, also at North Stokes on Saturday, May 13.
The Bears were strong in the sprint events, where Malik Frost and Jeremiah Rosser finished 1-2 in the 100 meters, Donavon Greene won the 200, and Grayson Corbin and Austin Tumbarello went 1-2 in the 400. In the latter event, Corbin won in a time of 51.56, followed by Tumbarello in 52.12. The third-place finisher was more than two and a half seconds behind Tumbarello.
Walkertown and Atkins (which finished third overall with 95 points) fought back in the distance events, with the Camels taking the 800 and the Wolfpack the 1600 and 3200 meters. Mount Airy earned just one point in those disciplines, and was also shut out of the 110 hurdles. The Bears didn’t get back on the board until Jackson Tumbarello legged out a win over North Stokes’ Zach Chesnet in the 300 hurdles to conclude the individual running events.
Walkertown’s A-team in the 4×100 relay, Malik Rosario, Haji McDaniels, Teryan Cherry and Jonathan Hudgins, matched the conference record they set a year ago, winning that event in a time of 44.01. Mount Airy didn’t enter 100 individual champ Frost in the relay, but Chris Cogdill, Rosser, Jackson Tumbarello and Gregory Greene still came in third. East Surry’s team of A.J. Bruton, Stephen Gosnell, Quincy Smith and Elijah Wright came in fifth.
The Bears had a costly mistake in the 200, when they sent out their top four sprinters, only to end up with no points when they were disqualified for an exchange outside the zone. Atkins ended up winning this race and also the 4×400, where their team topped Corbin, Frost and both Tumbarellos by about two seconds. The Camels also won the 4×800, where East Surry didn’t compete and the Bears came in fifth.
The match came down to the field events. Walkertown’s Denzel Hayes and Donavon Greene tied for first in the high jump, but Hayes took first on a tiebreaker. Chesnet won the pole vault for North Stokes, which has historically dominated that event, but Jackson Tumbarello took second, in front of another Viking, while the Wolfpack didn’t enter.
Donavon Greene was second to a Walkertown jumper in the long jump, an event where Bruton was fourth for the Cardinals. The Wolfpack also won the triple jump, where they finished 1-3, but Corbin and Harrison Joyce finished 2-4 for Mount Airy.
Then the Bears played their trump card. N.C. State recruit Gabriel King won the shot put with a toss of 51 feet. However, it wasn’t easy, because fellow senior Malcolm Malone was right on his heels, a foot behind for second. King then won the discus by almost 16 feet, with Malone in fourth. East Surry’s Elyjah Thomas placed third here. Walkertown failed to score in either event.
Following the top three in the final boys’ standings were North Stokes, Winston-Salem Prep, Bishop McGuinness and the Cardinals.
Winning athletes for the Lady Bears included a pair of double winners, Madeline Mayfield (400, high jump) and Hanne Cooke (1600, 3200). Mount Airy’s 4×200 relay team of Kennedy Gwyn, Claire Hauser, Mayfield and Shalin Revels finished second to Walkertown. Tatyana Long placed third in the girls’ shot put.
Mount Airy coach James Simmons was named as the boys’ Coach of the Year in the conference.