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BCA boys’ track and field team secures first title in any sport for school

Twice previously a runner up, now state champs

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

The boys’ track and field team at Burlington Christian Academy made history.

The Royals secured the school’s first state team championship by winning the North Carolina Independent Schools Athletic Association’s Division III title.

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“It has been a long time coming,” coach Forrest Horn said.

The Royals racked up 75 points to runner-up Gaston Day School’s 68 among 19 scoring teams May 19-20 on the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus in Hickory.

“It was definitely a huge day for our whole school,” senior Jacob Cockerham said.

BCA had been the team runner-up the previous two years, so Horn had a cautious outlook.

“As the meet went on, I didn’t even look at the points,” he said.

But he witnessed some standout performances, so he knew good things were happening.

Senior Connor Johnson won the discus with a heave of school-record 123 feet, 11 inches. That gave him a 7-foot, 6-inch victory on teammate Jadon Gabriel.

Connor Johnson’s throw.

Johnson was second in the shot put at 44-9½, while teammate Jackson McBride was fourth in the event at 40-1½.

Gabriel added a fourth-place spot in the high jump at 6 feet. He had personal-best marks in both the high jump and discus.

“That’s what we try to focus on,” Horn said. “If everybody can achieve (his or her) best, then we’ll do well.”

Johnson and McBride, also a senior, were first-year members of the team after wrapping up time on BCA’s conference champion basketball team. Their contributions bolstered the Royals this spring.

“Our field events guys really showed up big,” Horn said.

McBride, despite weighing 195 pounds, contended with the larger entrants in throws. “They had some big dudes out there,” he said.

BCA freshman Micah Stewart finished as the runner-up in two events. He posted a mark of 20-8 in the long jump and 42-8¼ in the triple jump. McBride ended up sixth in the triple jump at 37-10¾ and seventh in the long jump at 19-10¾.

Micah Stewart’s long jump

Stewart, who competed in the state meet the past years as middle school entrant, also was seventh in the 100 in 11.50. He wasn’t able to repeat as the triple jump champion, but enough was accomplished.

“You want to really bring your best when it matters most,” Stewart said.

Alexander Hyatt placed fourth in the 3,200 in 10:35.02 and claimed eighth in the 1,600 in 4:58.21. Cockerham was sixth in the 800 in 2:10.66.

In the pole vault, BCA had scorers with Will Hancock (sixth) and Caleb Horn (eighth), both clearing 7-6.

BCA gained points in a couple of relays, ending up seventh in the 3,200 (9:14.90) with Cockerham, Hyatt, Avery Shipwash, and Collin Godwin and eighth in the 400 relay (47.08) with Kaden Miller, Horn, Hancock and Stewart.

“I had confidence from the beginning of the season that we had the potential,” Miller said of the team success. “It kind of fell together.”

McBride said his decision to participate was worthwhile.

“I love sports. I love competing,” he said. “I figured I might as well come out and help the team. We (went) out there and we were the best.”

Josh Stewart, Jeff Gabriel, Kylie Myers and Suzie Gullett are on the BCA coaching staff.


In girls’ events, BCA’s Larkin Toper won the pole vault at 10 feet, taking the title for the third year in a row.

BCA longer jumpers Ella Knight (16-8½) and Toper (16-1) were second and third.

In the triple jump, Knight was fourth (31-9) and Hailey Copland took sixth (30-0).

Mary Katherine Parham of BCA took sixth in the 1,600 in 5:31.29. Copland was seventh in the 300 hurdles in 59.78.

BCA’s 400 relay of Amaya Badger, Copland, Knight, and Toper placed third in 52.76.

The team’s 1,600 relay of Parham, Adalynne House, Copland, and Badger was fourth in 4:33.94. The school’s 3,200 relay also was fourth in 10:46.45 with Parham, House, Evi Toper and Hadassah Morton.

The Burlington School’s Keegan Lee placed fourth in the 400 in 1:02.03.

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