ROCKINGHAM — The relay events, particularly the 4x100m and the 4x200m relays, were the bread and butter of the Richmond boys and girls track and field teams’ efforts during the 2018 season.
Both squads found success in other events throughout, but their speed while handing off the baton was undeniable.
Head boys coach Chris Campolieta — in his first season — witnessed both his 4x100m and 4x200m relay teams set school and state records, win conference titles, run qualifying times at Regionals and put on a show at the State Championships.
The boys 4×1 crew set a new school record (41.68 seconds) at the Sandhills Athletic Conference meet late last month and the 4×2 group owned the state record for the fastest time (1:27.90) after a performance at Hoke County in early April.
Jaleen Baldwin, Preston Coker, Dante Miller and Malik Stanback — the relays’ four-man crew — ran even faster times in the 4×1 in their final two meets of the season. They clocked in at 41.56 seconds at Regionals in order to qualify for States, where they were initially crowned 4×1 state champs after recording a time of 41.46 seconds.
When results were being made official, however, it was determined that one of Richmond’s exchanges happened outside of zone one — according to a tweet from @NCRunners — and the team was disqualified from the competition.
The same quartet, though, was able to best their state-record time (1:26.45) and finish as the state’s runner-up in the 4×2.
“I don’t care what the results say, everyone in that stadium knows who the fastest team in the state is,” Campolieta tweeted following the State Championships. “They handle(d) themselves with pride and showed great character … like @dmillz4ever1 (Miller) said, ‘Medals rust, memories don’t.’”
Head girls coach Reggie Miller made some changes to his 4×1 lineup — which had racked up a few first-place finishes during the regular season and won the conference title — late in the season and the team got even better.
Jakerra Covington, Harmony Jones, Monasia Kearns and Dymond McNeal became the Lady Raiders’ reliable four after the SAC meet and proved their dominance right away, running their best time of the season in the 4×1 (49.50) at the Scotland Last Chance Meet five days after the conference gathering.
Not only were they less than a second away from breaking the program record that was set back in 1988 with that finish, they also moved ahead of High Point Central into the No. 4 spot of the regional rankings at that time.
Covington, Jones, Kearns and McNeal ran well enough at the regional competition to advance to the state meet and then “showed they deserved to be there competing against the best teams in N.C.” with their 12th-place finish.
“I told the girls that we’ve got something special. They don’t realize how special we are that we can go into the conference championship with a fast team and then swap it out for an even faster team,” Reggie Miller said earlier this month.
As teams, the Raiders racked up a total of seven first-place overall finishes during the regular season — the boys winning four meets and the girls outscoring their competition on three separate occasions.
Only twice on the year did both squads triumph on the same day, kicking the season off with dominant efforts at home (over Purnell Swett, Scotland and Seventy-First) and winning at Jack Britt (over the Pirates, Pinecrest and Scotland) in mid-April.
Reggie Miller and the girls team’s other first-place overall finish took place at another home meet (Mar. 22) behind Taliah Wall’s 20-point effort — which included individual wins in three events. Campolieta and the boys also outscored their opponents at the Viking Invitational at Union Pines (Mar. 31) and the regular-season finale at Pinecrest (April 19).
“It’s been a joy to coach these boys. I’ve built a special relationship with each one of them that I look forward to keeping in the years to come,” Campolieta said after Regionals.
Richmond had 19 individuals either outrun, outthrow or outjump their competition at least once this past season.
For the boys: Jaleen Baldwin topped the 200m dash a couple times; Jamel Baldwin took first in the long jump to start the year; Preston Coker got two wins in the 400m dash; Malik Flowers was a three-time winner in high jump; Austin Gallops was able to top the 3200m run at a home meet; Zachariah Hamilton bested the 800m run twice; and Joerail White placed first in the discus throw — measuring out at 113 feet — in late March.
Dante Miller (100, 200m dash), Daryn Mason (shot put), and Summey (110m hurdles) were all mainstays atop their respective rankings and ended up winning conference titles at the end of the season.
For the girls: Ariel Brown got a win in two long-distance events; Janai Davis beat out everyone else in shot put once; Korie Dawkins topped the triple jump early; Johnson was consistent in the shot put; Harmony Jones commanded a 100m dash; Kearns earned a top spot in both the 100m and 200m dashes; Ashton McNeil opened with a 3200m run win; Kibreanna Stewart in the high and triple jumps; and Wall spread her numerous first-place finishes across four events.
“I had a lot of fun, (it was) one of the best seasons I’ve had. We accomplished a lot this season,” Reggie Miller said. “All the girls worked tremendously hard every day and they understood that the will to win is the will to prepare.”
Richmond’s Dante Miller, left, and Jaleen Baldwin were members of the boys 4x100m relay team that broke a school record to win the Sandhills Athletic Conference title during the 2018 track and field season.
Richmond’s Monasia Kearns, right, runs in the 4x100m relay.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.