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Cummings’ Jonathan Paylor cherishes track competition – even as interest in his college football future intensifies

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Cummings speedster Jonathan Paylor wasn’t a multi-race winner in the Class 2-A track and field state meet last month, but he embraced the latest competition nonetheless.

Widely known in football recruiting circles as one of the most-sought running backs in the country, Paylor has wrapped up his junior school year. He retained his state championship in the 400 meters in the May 20 meet at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.

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“A few things I have to work on such as the 100 reaction time coming out of the blocks,” he said. “The 200, I kind of pulled my hamstring a little bit. The 400 is my thing. I was always going to win that because I know I can run that long. Overall, still winning something out of that whole event was amazing to me.”

A year earlier as a sophomore, Paylor was the Class 2-A state meet’s Most Outstanding Performer by sprinting to victories in the 100, 200 and 400.

Paylor posted faster times in all three races this year than a year ago.

“This is why I love track because there’s always someone faster than you in track,” Paylor said. “That’s my biggest thing. Anytime I get competition that’s as fast as me or faster than me, I’m ready to go against it. So at the end of the day, this guy is faster than me, next year I’ve got to race him again.”

Junior Correy McManus of High Point Andrews won the 100 in 10.56 seconds, with Paylor third at 10.65 behind High Point Andrews sophomore Ja’Neil Harris (10.63).

A slow start hindered the Cummings sprinter. Paylor said he’s better suited for the 200 and 400, which he won by more than a second in 48.22.

He understands why the 100 is so special.

“The 100 gets all the attention because if you’re the fastest man there, you’re the fastest man there,” he said. “I knew when I came in, I was a little nervous because the guys I was running against were fast, too. Which I shouldn’t have been because overall competition is competition. The 100 is kind of quick so you can’t see how long you can run.”

Paylor’s final race in the state meet was the 200. Harris finished in 21.74 compared to Paylor’s 21.75.

“The other kid was a fast kid, too,” he said. “Coming out of the curve, I kind of pulled my hamstring, I kind of let up. I knew once I did that, I knew I wasn’t going to win that race.”

Even with the times nearly identical, Paylor said he knew he didn’t win.

“When we were side by side, he leaned before I did, so things like that can separate a race that’s really, really tight,” he said. “Overall, it was just good racing.”

Even though some football recruits head to college at the midway marks of their senior seasons after signing letters of intent, Paylor, who’s also a state champion in indoor track and field, said he wants more chances in high school track and field.

“I won MVP last year, so I’m like, ‘OK, we got to do it again,’ ” he said.

Rather than disturbed by the lack of repeating in all three events, Paylor said he’s intrigued by the possibilities. There was a good vibe with McManus and Harris.

“I talked to them, we’ve got to run it back again next year and see what we do at states again,” he said.

 

And on the football front

Paylor is a much-sought football player in the Class of 2024.

Paylor has an official visit set up for each weekend in June, beginning with North Carolina. He also has visits set for Maryland, North Carolina State, and South Carolina.

“I don’t know how it’s going to turn,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m going to take any more after four.”

Paylor said with new NCAA guidelines that permit additional official visits there could be more options.

Cummings Running Back Jonathan Paylor, pictured from after gaearlier game this season.

At Cummings, Paylor wasn’t involved with spring practices because he was preparing for the track and field state championships. Still, coach David Grimm said college coaches were in touch with the Cavaliers.

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