ROCKINGHAM — Xavier Brown still remembers what happened last year at the 4A East Region track meet.
Despite posting the eighth-fastest time during the season among his competitors in the 300-meter hurdles, Brown failed to advance out of the preliminaries and finished in 10th place.
Now as a sophomore, Brown is the odds-on favorite to win the 300 Saturday at West Johnston and advance to his first 4A state meet. Brown has a time of 38.93 seconds, nearly a half of a second better than the time of Khalid Powell from Knightdale.
“I am only worried about it just a little bit,” Brown said about being the favorite. “If I mess up, I won’t move on, but I won’t. I gained experience last year and I got faster this year. I’m going to be No. 1.”
While Brown is the only Raider with experience in a regional meet, Richmond coach Reggie Miller expects a handful to qualify for the state meet at North Carolina A&T. The top eight finishers in each event advance to Greensboro.
Jordan Richardson, who was selected as the Southeastern Conference’s field event MVP, has the third best shot put throw in the region at 49-11. In the discus, Richardson is seeded sixth with a toss of 137-5. Teammate Sayoun Flowers also has a chance to advance in the shot put. Flowers is the No. 7 seed, posting a throw of 48-4. Tyrone Crowder is on the bubble with a throw of 48, which is ninth best.
Richmond has two triple jumpers who could move on to the state meet. Stephen Houston and Robert Williams. Houston has the sixth best jump at 44-6, while Williams is just behind his teammate at No. 8 with a leap of 44-2. Williams is also seventh in the long jump at 21-8 and 12th in the high jump at 6-2.
“I really like the triple jump more because I like to jump in the air,” Williams said. “Coach Miller came to me this year and asked if I would do the triple jump. I said ‘I got you coach all I have to do is show up.’ It took me about three weeks to learn the technique. I didn’t think I was ever going to get those steps down.”
In addition to the 300, Brown has an opportunity to advance in the 110-meter hurdles. Brown will be the ninth seed after posting a time of 15.6 seconds.
The Raiders have three runners in the 100-meter dash, but only one appears to be a threat to advance. Shun Bloomfield has the sixth-best time in the region at 10.74. Devontae Watkins and Dakwa Nichols each posted a time of 11.14, which was tied for . Bloomfield also qualified in the 200 meters with a time of 22.54, which ranks him 18th in the region.
Trenton Greene and Tafari Rose are seventh and 10th in the 400-meter run. Greene has the seventh-fastest time at 50.44, while Rose is 10th at 50.64.
Miller expects his 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams to qualify for Greensboro after qualifying fourth and fifth, respectively. The 4x100 team will be Bloomfield, Brown, Watkins and Nichols, while Rose will replace Nichols in the 4x200.
Watkins, who is the third leg in the 4x100 and the second leg in the 4x200, said it is different having to run the curves in the relay events.
“You don’t really use your speed, it’s more technique,” Watkins said. “You have to learn to balance your weight.”
The Raiders’ 4x400 relay team of Brown, Rose, Greene and Erran Greene qualified 11th with a time of 1:29.99.
“The 400 is more about technique than sprinting, I know how to pace myself,” Rose said. “The 200 is an all-out sprint.”
Millbrook blanks Richmond in opening round
RALEIGH — Fifth-ranked Millbrook jumped out to a four-goal halftime lead and cruised to a 7-0 victory over Richmond Senior in the first round of the 4A state playoffs Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (19-2) peppered Richmond goalkeeper Brittany Roberts with more than 30 shots during the match.
“I thought we played well at times,” Richmond coach Bennie Howard said. “We made the same old mistakes we always make, not marking up. Brittany made some saves, but the ball bounced off her hands and they beat us to the ball. We hung tough and played the full 80 minutes.
“We are losing a good group of seniors.”
The Raiders close out their season with an 8-13-2 mark.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org