Cummings girls return to the podium for first time since 2019
By Bob Sutton
Special to The Alamance News
Cummings returned to the top in Class 2-A girls’ track and field by winning the team state championship behind a huge day-long performance from freshman D’Anna Cotton.
The Cavaliers compiled 66 points for a 10-point edge on South Granville on Saturday at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.
“They got it done,” Cummings coach Donnie Davis said. “They worked hard all day long. They were not finished until the end.”
Four underclassmen racked up all the points for the Cavaliers.
“No one on this team had ever been on a state championship [team] before,” Davis said.
Cummings has won 17 state titles in girls’ outdoor track and field, though most recently in 2019.
Cotton captured the high jump and triple jump and placed third in both the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. So those 32 points accounted for nearly half of the team’s total.
Cotton’s high jump of 5 feet, 6 inches was tops along with her triple jump of 37-6¾.
In the 100 hurdles, Cotton’s third-place time of 15.37 seconds in the finals was one spot ahead of teammate Taylor Jordan (15.52), a junior.
In the 300 hurdles, Jordan was second at 45.60 followed by Cotton at 45.82.
Cummings had freshman Diamond Moore (17-0) and sophomore Brooke Packingham (16-9½) in second and third place in the long jump. Moore had the same best leap as Jaylah Jefferson of South Granville, but Jefferson’s second-best mark was better than Moore’s, so that determined first place.
In the triple jump, Packingham (35-7½) was sixth and Jordan (35-5½) was seventh. Combined with Cotton, the Cavaliers collected 15 points in that event.
And that was what Davis pointed to as the most grueling part of the meet. The Cavaliers had checked in for the triple jump, but had to leave for the 300 hurdles before any of them made an attempt.
“That’s the worst situation possible to be in,” Davis said. “It was tough. They toughed it out and got the points we needed to win.”
Cotton was flat on the track face-down when the 300 hurdles ended.
“Sometimes you just have to talk them back to their feet,” Davis said.
Then Cotton’s first attempt in the triple jump turned out to be the winning mark.
Except for the 300 hurdles and triple jump, Cummings entrants finished higher than their pre-meet seeds. Yet even if it looked like the Cavaliers would have enough to win a championship, they exceeded some projections. The championship wasn’t going to be won based on prior performances.
“It just doesn’t work out that way,” Davis said. “They have to live up to it and they did. They never backed down on what we asked them to do.”
Paylor wins one race
Jonathan Paylor of Cummings won the 400 for the second year in a row, but he was unable to repeat his titles from a year ago in two other sprints in Class 2-A boys’ competition.
Correy McManus of team champion High Point Andrews won the 100 and Ja’Neil Harris of High Point Andrews later edged Paylor by a hundredth of a second in the 200.
McManus ran 10.56 in the 100, with Paylor at 10.65. In the 200, Harris was first at 21.74 with Paylor at 21.75. Khavarie Hightower of Cummings was fourth at 22.31 in the 200.
“It wasn’t like he had a bad day,” Davis said of Paylor. “He had to run everything hard.”
The 200 was the last of Paylor’s four events (one relay, three individual), which also included the 100 preliminaries.
Paylor’s winning time of a personal-best 48.22 in the 400 gave him more than a one-second margin on Black Mountain Owen’s Davis Kendall.
Hightower scored in the long jump with a sixth-place mark of 21-1¾.
Cummings placed seventh in the 800 relay in 1:30.73 with Hightower, Paylor, John Taylor and Bramond McRae.
It was another runner-up finish for the Williams boys in the 1,600 relay in Friday’s state meet at N.C. A&T.
The Bulldogs, with Clifton Davis Jr., Jacob Marquis, Zion Amadi and Caleb Fogleman, finished in 3:22.15, trailing Croatan (3:20.45).
Even with an improved time from a year ago, the same Williams quartet ended up with silver medals again. Last year, it was Greensboro Dudley with the first-place relay.
In the 400, Williams had two place finishers with Fogleman in fourth at 49.64 and Amadi in seventh at 50.51.
Gabo Ocampo of Eastern Alamance claimed third in the pole vault, clearing 13 feet. Teammate William Ratliffe placed sixth in the 100 in 10.78.