by Aaron Garcia
If given the choice, Raven Covington would almost always rather compete in a big-time state meet than a simple practice. Practices are just too stressful, said the Cuthbertson junior.
“I do worse in practice than I do in meets,” she explained. “When I’m at practice, it usually makes me nervous. I think, ‘Oh, I hope I don’t (make these mistakes) at the state meet,’ but once I get to the meet, I do so much better. It releases a lot of nervousness.”
That certainly seemed to be the case at February’s Class 1A/2A/3A indoor track and field state championships. Covington’s effort of 16 feet, 11.25 inches in the long jump was good for silver at the state meet and was nearly nine inches better than the next-best competitor (North Rowan’s Meloney Ramos, 16-2.5). Her finish was tops among Union County athletes in any individual event at the state meet, helping her earn the title of Union County Weekly’s 2010-11 Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
And true to form, Covington’s second-place effort at the biggest competition of the winter season set a new personal standard.
This year marked the first time Covington had competed in the long jump since she was a sixth-grader in Connecticut. She and her family moved to Kannapolis in seventh grade, where she focused on sprinting and basketball. She decided to give jumping another try this season after transferring to Cuthbertson and though she was admittedly rusty, Covington said that having the opportunity to compete in the state meet will only make her better.
“I like the state meets because I like to see what everybody else can bring and how good everyone else is at their events,” she explained. “Also, the competition helps you better yourself and I think that’s a huge plus.”
Perhaps most importantly, Cuthbertson coach Michael Demster hopes the state meet allowed Covington to see her potential in the sport, which could make the junior’s winter performance merely the beginning of a strong career with the Cavaliers.
“I don’t think she’s aware of how good she really is or what she’s really capable of doing,” he said. “I think she’s starting to see that she’s pretty good and she’s capable of doing some really good things for us.”