“(A top-five finish) was kind of the goal. There are just so many moving parts and pieces that you never know how it’s going to go. The year we won, on paper, we really should’ve been second. But things just kind of fell our way. And, you know, you have to have a little bit of luck.”Jeff Thompson West Forsyth head coach
GREENSBORO — It came as a surprise when Coach Jeff Thompson of West Forsyth heard the news.
As his boys track and field team approached the NCHSAA Class 4-A outdoor track and field championships at N.C. A&T on Saturday, he was simply hoping for a top-five finish.
The Titans, however, performed slightly better than fifth, fourth — even third. Thompson learned that West Forsyth finished tied for second with East Mecklenburg. His boys scored 34 points throughout a morning and afternoon of events at Irwin Belk Track at BB&T Stadium on a near 90-degree day. Class 1-A also held its championship at the site.
Cary pulled away with the Class 4-A title in hand, scoring 46 points. It took a victory in the 4x800-meter relay — the final event of the day — to score 10 points and secure the championship.
The Titans had top-five finishes in four events. Mason Ellis and Will Atkins both placed the highest in second. Ellis, along with recording a 171-06 in the discus throw, also was fourth in the shot put. Atkins clocked in a 1:52.75 in the 800-meter run, and Dillan Lucas placed fourth in the high jump.
For Thompson, the surprise was reminiscent of their run to the Class 4-A championship just two years ago. West Forsyth won its last outdoor title in 2017 with 46 points.
“(A top-five finish) was kind of the goal,” Thompson said. “There are just so many moving parts and pieces that you never know how it’s going to go.
“The year we won, on paper, we really should’ve been second. But things just kind of fell our way. And, you know, you have to have a little bit of luck.”
That also applies to the two Reagan boys relay teams. The 4x100 group of Keasean Dirks, Tazhae Woods, Zavion Hamilton and D.J. Moyer was all smiles as it walked off the track.
Reagan placed first in the 4x100-meter with a time of 41.16 seconds. The victory in that event was its second of the day, as Dylan James, Dirks, Woods and Moyer won the 4x200-meter just two events earlier.
The Raiders’ 4x100-meter performance exceeded expectations — and then some.
Their time, with Moyer finishing the anchor leg with Felix Patterson of Fayetteville Pine Forest close behind in second with 41.32, broke the North Carolina record across all classifications.
It was previously set in 1999 by Alex Midgette, Darnelle Sawyer, Bobby Minor and Fred Fisher of Pamlico County with a time of 41.19 seconds — .03 behind the Raiders.
The Class 4-A record alone was set in 1980 at 41.23.
“Getting the baton around the track is just what we’ve been focusing on all this year because we came up short last year with dropping the baton at regionals,” said Dirks, whose relay was originally seeded second behind Pine Forest.
“That was going to be our main focus. We knew we were fast enough to get it around the track and get the record.”
And earlier in the 4x200-meter, Reagan excelled as well.
However, the team had seen success previously in the event.
In June 2018, then-senior Mashion Powell, Dirks, Moyer and Woods claimed the 4x200-meter title and All-American status at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor.
It was on the very track where the Raiders won their individual state title that day.
Reagan, which replaced Powell with James for the first leg, clocked in at 1:25.49 to break the Class 4-A record set in 1981 by Northern Durham.
“It feels amazing,” said Dirks, a senior who, along with James, credited assistant coach Richard Burton with the training regimen. “You know, we’ve been working on this for two years and tried to break this at nationals last year. But we got right under it, so this was our last time.”
Overall, the boys team finished eighth with 28 points. The Reagan girls team picked up 31 points to place fifth.
In Class 1-A, Winston-Salem Prep had its girls place fourth with 38 points — a top finish came in the 4x200-meter relay with a time of 1:46.19. North Stokes came in seventh. Mount Airy didn’t end its day in the top 10, but Kathlyn Mauck won an individual title in the high jump.
Chris Lomax and Hannah Oliver of Elkin placed first in the 800-meter and 3,200-meter runs, respectively, as well.
While West Forsyth came away as the runner-up, the Titans’ only first-place finish between the boys and girls teams came from none other than Lindsay Absher, a Purdue signee, in the pole vault. She had a vault of 12 feet.
“Overall, any time the kids can perform and give everything they can, it’s a successful day,” Thompson said.