TRACK AND FIELD ROUNDUP: Firebirds secure three all-state finishes | The Enterprise
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TRACK AND FIELD ROUNDUP: Firebirds secure three all-state finishes

Posted on May 21, 2022

Updated on May 25, 2022

School SportsSports
Southern Nash's T.J. Taybron receives his medal after placing fourth in the long jump at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's T.J. Taybron receives his medal after placing fourth in the long jump at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's Justin Braswell hands the baton to Mitchell Jones in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's Justin Braswell hands the baton to Mitchell Jones in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell prepares for an event at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell prepares for an event at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's Bryson Rackley runs in the 4x800 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's Bryson Rackley runs in the 4x800 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's T.J. Taybron receives his medal after placing fourth in the long jump at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's T.J. Taybron receives his medal after placing fourth in the long jump at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's Justin Braswell hands the baton to Mitchell Jones in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Danny Dunston | Special to the Times

Southern Nash's Justin Braswell hands the baton to Mitchell Jones in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

Southern Nash's Justin Braswell hands the baton to Mitchell Jones in the 4x100 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.
Southern Nash's Tralon Mitchell prepares for an event at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.
Southern Nash's Bryson Rackley runs in the 4x800 meter relay at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.
Southern Nash's T.J. Taybron receives his medal after placing fourth in the long jump at the NCHSAA 3-A Track and Field State Championships in Greensboro.

GREENSBORO – As he gathered a group of 16 performers, the largest he would ever take to the NCHSAA 3-A State Championship Track and Field State Championships, to prepare on Monday, Southern Nash head coach Sterling Leonard had a simple directive: tell a story. 

It had already been a stellar season for the Firebirds: the boys team had won the 3-A Mideast Regional, and the 2-A/3-A Big East Conference Championship, at which the girls finished third. Leonard wanted his group of 15 boys and one girl to make their mark at the state meet, but also focus on taking in and enjoying the experience. 

“I tried to say it on Monday, ‘You’ve got to enjoy this. States are so different. What we do today, it’s not going to tell it all,’” Leonard said. “When you sweep everything and you get four championships, then you win the region, and then you come here and tell a story, to me, you can’t take that away. States are so watered down and you’ve got so many participants, if you can even put a dent in it, that’s something to tell.”

The Firebirds that went to the NC A&T Irwin Belk Track all got a chance to tell their story. Southern Nash took Chasity Hopkins, Tralon Mitchell, T.J. Taybron, Justin Braswell, Zyshone White, Mitchell Jones, DJ Pridgen, Jayden Whitaker, Bryson Rackley, Logan Saunders, Isaac Joyner, Tyler Maner, Thomas Copeland and Tylik Mitchell to states. 

The Firebirds finished 12th as a team with 22 points, and secured all-state finishes from Tylik Mitchell in the triple jump, Tabyron in the long jump and Braswell, Jones, White and Tralon Mitchell in the 4x100-meter relay. 

Tylik Mitchell, the only freshman in the triple jump, finished fourth at 43 feet, 8 inches. The quartet of Braswell, Jones, White and Tralon Mitchell also finished fourth with a time of 43.40 seconds in the 4x100 meter relayF. For Braswell and White, states marked the end of their Southern Nash careers. 

“I’m proud of the guys,” Leonard said. “It’s the last day being with some of these guys, and it means the world to me. And I think they appreciate their place. So it’s been worth it. I thought I knew what the state felt like until I brought more guys. Now I’ve really got a whole indication of what it really means. It’s been fun. We’ve had a ball.”

Taybron jumped (21-5.25) secured a fourth-place finish in the long jump, as he accomplished his goal of getting to a state meet in his seniors year. 

“My goal at the beginning of the year was to go to states for something,” Taybron said. “I wanted to go for football, I couldn’t do it, basketball couldn’t do it. Me going for track, it gave me a sense of accomplishment of reaching my goal that I ultimately wanted to do. Every high schooler wants to go to a state championship. It’s really a blessing to be here.” 

The Firebirds also saw Tralon Mitchell finish fifth (11.39 seconds) in the 100-meter dash, and sixth in the 200-meter dash (22.57). 

“I wanted them to enjoy it, compete and soak it in a little bit,” Leonard said. “I wanted that to be the thing for them, tell a story, start the story, finish the story, whatever it is. I think they did a really good job of that. So I’m proud of them. It’s really cool.”

Also competing in the 3-A meet from Times readership area schools were Audrey Earp of Hunt (shot put, 15th, 29-10), Tynasia Emory of Fike, who finished 10th in the 100-meter dash preliminaries and Austin Sawkiw of C.B. Aycock, who finished 10th in the 110-meter hurdles preliminaries. 

SouthWest Edgecombe, Greene Central pick up all-state finishes in 2-A Meet

In the 2-A championships, SouthWest Edgecombe saw Jer’Lisha Pridgen notch an all-state finish, tying for third with Latecyia Johnson of East Carteret in the high jump (5-2). 

Greene Central’s Jonathon Willis placed third in the 100-meter dash (11.39 seconds).



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