Hunt’s Ganaway wins regional high jump title

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SWANSBORO — On a day clouded with disappointment for many competitors from The Wilson Times readership area, Hunt High junior Jeremiah Ganaway rose to the occasion Friday.

Ganaway matched his season-best height by clearing 6 feet, 8 inches to win the boys high jump at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A East Regional track and field meet at Swansboro. Ganaway edged Golden Demons sophomore Elijahwon Cooper. Ganaway was able to clear 6-6 while Cooper’s best was 6-4. Ganaway then made it over 6-8 before failing in three tries at 6-9, which would have been the top height in the state this spring.

Ganaway, who had just competed in the high jump once before clearing 6-8 to win The Wilson Times Track Classic on April 10 and tie the meet record, was much more enthralled with high jumping after his regional win.

“Yes, sir! I really love it now,” he said in a telephone interview after the meet.

Ganaway started slowly, taking two attempts to clear 6-2 and getting over the bar at 6-4 on his third and final attempt.

“I was still in the process of getting warmed up and as I get up to a higher height, I can use my technique more,” he explained, “but I wasn’t warmed up enough at 6-4.”

After clearing 6-6 to win the event, Ganaway put an exclamation point on his day by soaring over the bar at 6-8 on his first attempt. He nearly cleared it at 6-9, nudging the bar off with his foot after getting his body over, on his first try. Ganaway said he started getting tired and didn’t come close on his next two attempts at 6-9.

“I feel like I could have done better,” he said.

Ganaway, who plays basketball for Hunt, said he likes having Cooper as a rival in the high jump pit. Cooper, who plays hoops for Fike, finished second to Ganaway at the Times Track Classic but defeated him at the Big East Conference meet last week at Rocky Mount High.

“I know he’s going to try his hardest and push me to do what I can do,” Ganaway said of Cooper. “So I just try to bring it every time and he does, too, in every sport we compete against each other.”


Ganaway’s victory was easily the highlight for a Hunt combined squad that had high hopes with 18 individual entries and six relay teams. However, only the Warriors 4x100- and 4x200-meter relay teams were able to punch their ticket to the state 3-A championship meet next Saturday, May 20, in Greensboro.

Hunt’s 4x100 tandem of Tyler Burns, Dionte Alston, K.J. Jones and Brandon Chapman placed third in 43.66 seconds behind winner West Craven (42.82) and Havelock (43.31). The Warriors 4x200 quartet of Burns, Jones, Niseehm Tillery and Chapman finished fourth in 1:32.40

“For what we had, you couldn’t ask for a better day,” Hunt coach Rusty Boyette said. “This is the best our running program has been in years.

In the 4x200, Hunt finished just behind C.B. Aycock’s foursome of Rico Dawson, Muhammad Brooks, Tahj Thacker and Kamarion Graham in 1:31.53.

Graham had the best day for Aycock as he prevailed in the 100 dash, finishing with a PR time of 10.67, and was fourth in the 200 in 22.44.

Golden Falcons senior Trevor Holt entered as the No. 2 seed in the boys shot put and finished third. However, Holt, the third seed in the discus, failed to qualify for the state meet as he placed fifth.


The biggest disappointment of the day likely belong to Southern Nash junior Nadir Thompson, the reigning state 3-A champion in the boys 200 dash. Thompson, who has been out since straining his hamstring in early April, had to pull out of the 4x200 relay when he re-aggravated his injury, thus ending his season and hopes of repeating as state champion.

Southern Nash coach Brian Batchelor said that Thompson entered in the open 100 but planned to just come out of the blocks and run hard for about 50 meters before jogging out the rest, just to test his hamstring.

“He said he felt 100 percent,” Batchelor said.

However, when Thompson got the baton from teammate Zonovan Knight in the anchor leg of the 4x200 relay, he got halfway through the curve and pulled off the track, resulting in a disqualification for the Firebirds.

“He said it didn’t hurt but when he tried to go, it wouldn’t go,” Batchelor said. “He said he didn’t think he made it worse, it just didn’t feel right.”

Thompson, who also won the boys 300 at the state 3-A indoor championships earlier this year, will have to wait until next year for another shot at an outdoor title.

“He’s a competitor so he wanted to try, but it just didn’t work,” Batchelor said.

The lone bright spot for Southern Nash was junior Cassidy Pennington, who won the girls 300 hurdles with a personal-record time of 47.71 seconds to beat runner-up Arlanda Faulkner of C.B. Aycock by 1.43 seconds. Pennington, who will be the only Southern Nash athlete at the state meet, only started running the 300 before the Big East meet last week, when she qualified for the regional.

“We’ve been bouncing around and putting her in different relays,” said Batchelor, who added that Firebirds football head coach Brian Foster made the suggestion that Pennington should try running the 300.

Faulkner and senior Cyerra Carter were double state qualifiers for the Lady Falcons. Faulkner placed fourth in the 100 hurdles in 15.99, a PR, while Carter was third in the girls long jump with a distance of 17-3 and took fourth in the triple jump at 35-5.25.


Aycock posted the top area team scores in boys and girls as the Falcons finished eighth out of 25 teams and the Lady Falcons came in ninth out of 21. West Carteret won the girls meet with 108 points while Jacksonville claimed the boys team title with 79 points.

Southern Nash girls placed 13th while Hunt tied for 16th and Fike tied for 20th. The Hunt boys finished in 12th place while Fike tied for 17th and Southern Nash tied for 24th.

Several area athletes just missed qualifying for a berth in the state meet, including Hunt junior India Barfield, who was fifth in the girls discus with a throw of 96-4.

Hunt junior Tyler Burns came up shoRt of qualifying in the 200, finishing sixth in 22.87 while Southern Nash’s Corey Foster was sixth in the boys 400. Warriors senior Evan Lee placed sixth in the 800 in 2:03.26, a little more than two seconds from a state-qualifying finish.

Lee was also part of the Hunt boys 4x800 relay, along with James Staton, Chelear Forbes and Renzo Cieza, that was fifth in 8:31.19, less than five seconds behind fourth-place West Brunswick.

“The 4x800 really hurt because we looked so strong and it just slipped out of our hands,” Boyette said. “But we had a PR by nine seconds so you can’t really say we had a bad day.”

Fike senior Mike Ward had to settle for fifth place in the boys triple jump with a top leap of 42-8.