BALTIMORE — Emily Lewis cleared hurdles.
Kendron Wayman sealed a second victory on his final attempt. And Geni Roberts hopped, skipped and jumped to his second.
It was all part of a banner weekend at Morgan State University’s Hughes Stadium, as North Caroline High School enjoyed outstanding performances at the state track and field championships, winning five titles. Wayman and Roberts each won titles on Thursday, May 23. The Bulldogs added three more titles Saturday, May 25, with Lewis, Wayman and Roberts scoring victories.
The defending 2A state champion in girls’ 100 hurdles, Lewis got off to a poor start out of the blocks and was nipped by Seneca Valley’s Deborah Gnoumou (15.27) in the 100 hurdles, finishing second in 15.34.
“It’s going to stay in my head probably forever,” Lewis said of the 100. “Just because it was supposed to be mine. Still got second, so I have to be happy about that because a lot of girls would like to be in my place. I just have to be grateful.”
The senior who is also headed to Mount St. Mary’s, rebounded to win her second straight state championship in the 300 intermediate hurdles, finishing with a 43.93, almost a full two seconds ahead of Hereford’s Lily Gaffney in second.
“The three was good because I got close to my PR, but I didn’t break the state record like planned,” Lewis said. “But it is what it is. I really didn’t get it (the 100) out of my head. I just had to do my next race and focus. I’m just happy to still be a state champ in at least that event.”
Lewis finishes her high school career as a four-time state champion. Along with Saturday’s victory, she won state titles in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles during the 2018 Class 2A outdoor track and field championships. She won her third career state title during the 2019 Class 2A state indoor track and field championships in February.
On Thursday, Wayman admitted he did not expect to give North Caroline a second straight state champion in the shot put — following Ja’Mion Franklin’s title win last year — especially considering he’d been sick earlier in the week. But the junior also noted he probably wouldn’t have even picked up the shot had it not been for Franklin, his former football teammate now at Notre Dame.
“He told me, ‘Yo, you should do shot put,’” Wayman said of Franklin’s track and field recruiting pitch. “And I said, ‘I don’t know, man.’ And then I went out and tried it and liked it.”
Wayman’s liked enough that he has shown steady progression under the direction of assistant Ted Holloway this season, and has been near the top of every competition he has entered this year. Like Roberts in the long jump, Wayman delivered what proved to be his winning distance on his second attempt in the first round to easily beat Eastern Tech’s Ryan Strait, who was runner-up at 45-9.
“Not many athletes come out their first year and win a state championship,” Thomas said. “Kendron is easy to coach. He listens. Him and Ted have established a good relationship. Everything that Ted asks of him he does.”
Two days after winning the 2A boys’ shot put crown with his second throw, Wayman, after scratching on his first two attempts, flung the disc 129 feet, 2 inches to qualify for the championship flight. Wayman got off throws of 140-10 and 141-5 on his next two attempts, before unloading a throw of 157-3, giving the Bulldogs the state title for a second year in a row after Ja’Mion Franklin’s title effort a year ago.
“It was crazy,” Wayman said Saturday with a warm smile. “I was nervous but my (North Caroline assistant) coach (Ted Holloway) kept talking to me. He said, ‘You’re good. Before the finals, he told me, ‘Good, you get this last throw off and you make it to the finals you’re going to win it.’ But I was still nervous a little bit. I didn’t think I was going to make it.
“Coach said, ‘Go out and let it fly,’” Wayman added. “So I just had to let it swing, go out of my hand. He told me to get mad. I said I had to think about something to make me mad. I was like, ‘I could lose this. Might not have a chance next season.’”
In Thursday’s long jump, Roberts soared a school-record 22 feet, 10½ inches to win his first state title of the competition.
“I came here looking to at least jump a 21 and get second place,” Roberts said. “But I hit the board finally and I jumped a 22-(10½).
“I had my steps wrong all season long. I worked on it this week with my coach Lamar (Opher) and my coach Kaneesha (Hollis),” Roberts said of the two North Caroline assistant coaches. “Last year I got third in both (long jump and triple jump) so I thought I could get first.”
While Roberts had pretty much ruled the long jump and triple jump during the regular season, it wasn’t until the postseason began that the 6-foot-3 senior began fine tuning his approach to the board. That paid dividends last night, as Roberts jumped 22 feet on his first attempt in the opening round, then delivered his title-winning effort on his second try.
“And that’s exactly it,” North Caroline head coach Rob Thomas said of Roberts finally hitting the board. “All four years with Geni, the biggest problem we had with him was he wasn’t consistent when it came time to hitting the board. Every time we adjusted him, he would be behind the board.
“This last couple of weeks he’s been hitting that board and he’s been jumping PR jumps,” Thomas added. “The jump today broke the record for the school along with getting him a gold medal in the state. This is going to be big momentum for him going into the triple jump (Saturday) where he’s already seeded first.”
Tikristi Ayo-Durojaiye of Damascus was second to Roberts with a leap of 21-8½.
Roberts tacked on a second state title Saturday when he launched his 6-foot-3 frame a career-best 46-6 to win the triple jump competition.
“I knew I could win this one because I was jumping late 45s all year long,” said Roberts, who admitted to being nervous entering the triple jump after tweaking his leg Thursday. “From Thursday I hurt my leg a little bit so I was coming in sort of scared, didn’t think I was going to jump as well because I hurt my leg.”
Roberts said that pain added a degree of difficulty to the triple jump.
“There’s three hops and when you are sore it’s hard,” Roberts said. “I just blocked out the pain.”
Colonel Richardson’s Dakota Wilson almost gave Caroline County a clean sweep in the long jump Thursday, as he placed second in the boys’ 1A event with a leap of 21-¼. Smithsburg’s Ryan Chinn won with a 21-5.