All 52 athletes that competed at the district meet qualified for the state meet and the CPRCAD team qualified 28 athletes with 22 of those athletes traveling to Virginia.
“This field, I’m looking to qualify a whole lot of them for nationals because they have the potential to do that,” CPRCAD coach Larry Turner said.
This is a different kind of team without perennial national contenders Broderick Snoddy or Jonathan Jones who combined to help Carrollton High School win three straight GHSA Class AAA state titles.
“We’re without the Broderick Snoddys and Jonathan Jones. So we’ve got a lot of Brodericks and Jonathans here in the whole team. We’re hoping for some good results and we’ve got great potential to do that. We’ve got some quality kids here, not the superstar kid, but the good, hardworking kid that can become a superstar,” Turner said.
Highlighting the girls qualifiers Alecia North will take part in the high jump, triple jump and long jump for the intermediate girls while Dejah Sheppard also qualified for three events (100, 200, long jump) in midget girls and Lashanti Williams (200-meter and long jump) in bantam girls also qualified for multiple events. Alexis North for triple jump in youth girls and Ansley Long for long jump in intermediate girls all qualified for regionals.
De’Antoine Cammons qualified for four regional events — 110-meter hurdles, high jump, triple jump and 400-meter relay — in intermediate boys with Malik Sheppard (high jump, long jump, 400 relay) and Marquis Barnes (long jump, triple jump, 400 relay) qualified for three events in intermediate boys.
Christopher Crews qualified for the 800-meter run along with Noah Melson (long jump, 400) in bantam boys. Jackson McNealey (shot put, javelin), Penn Kesselder (shot put, javelin) and Justin Parham (javelin, triathlon) all qualified in bantam boys. Jeremiah Pierce qualified for three events in midget boys with shot put, discus and javelin, while Bryce McNealey (high jump), Jordan Bonner (long jump) and Raymond Crews (pentathlon) also qualified in midget boys.
Demarius Owensby qualified in the 200-meter, 800-meter relay and the long jump as Jayland Alphabet (long jump, triple jump) and Dylan Parham (high jump 800 relay) qualified for two events in youth boys and Jaylin Thomas qualified in the high jump while Joshua Pierce and David Thompson will round out the 800-meter relay team.
Trint Terrell was the fourth qualifier for the intermediate boys 400-meter relay team, but will be replaced by Mitt Conerly — who was the alternate — due to an injury.
Trey Chivers and Caleb Johnson qualified for the young men long jump and Maurice Boykin qualified for the triple jump in young men to round out the CPRCAD qualifiers.
Having such a large group make the trip keeps the summer track season going where Turner and his coaches can continue to work with the young athletes.
“It just helps out a whole lot because it keeps our summer track alive and keeps them understanding what it takes to be a national contender. That’s why we love to have the small ones, as well as the older ones because graduation takes away a number of kids, but we reload with a number more. That’s what we try to do, keep them coming,” Turner said.
For assistant coach Justin Jones the chance to compete at the regional meet and possibly at nationals is a reflexion of the work the kids put in during season. Now they are being rewarded.
“I think we get a great opportunity to show the type of program we have here in our community. We take the kids not just to local meets, but national meets like the one we’re going to next week. I think it’s just a testament to how hard our kids work and their parents, coaches and the community all together to make this track program special,” Jones said.
As a coach on the CPRCAD team Jones is able to watch the athletes go from young kids into high school competitors all while getting some national exposure along the way.
“It’s a great experience. You get to see them mature, not only as an athlete, but as a person. By the time a lot of our kids get to the high school they’ve been to national meets so it’s not surprising when they have success in their [high school] career early on. It’s also good exposure for them, a lot of times you see collegiate athletes and coaches at those meets,” Jones said.
Dylan Parham, Barnes, Cammons, Conerly and Terrell all competed at national last year. And without the traditional powers now some others have a chance to work their way into the spotlight.
“It’s a different kind of group of kids that works hard and can do a whole lot of things. We had Broderick and Jonathan, we knew what they were going to do, but this group here could explode at any time. I know they’ve got the potential and they have to understand they are it now, it’s their turn. Once they understand it’s their turn to perform they’ll have a better understanding of what it takes to qualify for nationals,” Turner said.