Union County athletes wear Queen City crowns

by C. Jemal Horton

Monroe senior Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins broke the girls 300-meter hurdles meet record at last weekend’s Queen City Relays in Charlotte. C. Jemal Horton/UCW photo

CHARLOTTE – For more than five decades, the Queen City Relays has become known as a track meet for which many local high school athletes spend their entire careers aspiring and training to earn gold medals.

Last weekend, some Union County athletes accomplished their goals.

On March 24, local standouts Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins, Jamie Glenn, Sarah Fell, Ronny Franklin and Deja Burks topped strong fields in their respective events, en route to winning individual titles at the 56th Queen City Relays at Charlotte’s Myers Park High School.

Collins, a Monroe High School senior, was named the event’s most outstanding girls performer after setting a meet record in the girls 300-meter hurdles with a time of 45.26 seconds.

Another Monroe girls star, Jamie Glenn, also had a sterling performance, winning two events (the triple jump and the shot put) and finishing second in another (the long jump). Glenn won the triple jump by traveling 37 feet, 5.5 inches, and she claimed the shot put title with a distance of 33-0. In the long jump, Glenn cleared 16-9.25.

Fell, a Marvin Ridge senior, took the girls pole vault competition with a height of 10-6. Cuthbertson sophomore Liz Wood finished third at 9-6.

Marvin Ridge also had a winner in the boys pole vault competition, as Franklin, a senior, outdueled fellow Maverick Jonathan Spitler for first place. Franklin soared 13-0, while Spitler, a sophomore, was second at 11-6.

Burks, a Cuthbertson 10th-grader, took first place in the girls high jump by clearing 4-10.

Two local relay teams also took home gold medals, and both are from Marvin Ridge.

The Mavericks cruised to victory in the girls 1,600-meter sprint medley, as Kacie Hicks, Taylor Dove, Kathleen Maher and Alden Kessenich finished in 4 minutes, 29.28 seconds.

In the boys distance medley, the Mavericks quartet of Carter Pennington, Logan Jackson, Alec Lane and Drew Buckley posted a blistering time of 10:50.28, which made them the only team to finish in fewer than 11 minutes.

That mark also set a Mavericks school record in the distance medley, a unique event that features runners who run both short and long distances.

“The Queen City Relays is nice because it’s an opportunity, maybe once a year, to try and get a school record,” Mavericks coach Cameron Starr said. “There’s a sense of pride among the team – they like coming here and competing against this kind of competition.

“Next week is our Union County track meet, so we’re just trying to put the pieces together.”

In a unique twist, the Monroe standout senior Collins was one of four girls who broke the decade-old record in the 300 hurdles, being joined in that distinction by sophomore teammate Reneazia Collins. However, Janieyah Collins’ time of 43.86 seconds was the fastest among the record-breakers, followed by West Mecklenburg’s Alvonna Blakney (44.10), Charlotte Ardrey Kell’s Kaila Smith (45.26) and fellow Redhawk Reneazia Collins (45.37).

Collins wasn’t even aware that she had broken the meet record until she approached her coach, Johnny Sowell, minutes later and he informed her of her feat.

“It feels really good to get the record,” Collins said, “but I’m just really happy for my teammate, Reneazia. She did a great job.

“I wasn’t focused on the record. I just wanted to run well. Since my freshman year, I’ve always run my fastest at states (at the end of the season), so coming into this season, my goal was to (break my personal record) before states.”

Janieyah Collins said she recently returned from a recruiting trip to the University of Virginia and is awaiting word on a scholarship offer from the Cavaliers. She already has offers from East Carolina, Appalachian State and the Charlotte 49ers.

“Something should be happening pretty soon,” she said with a smile.

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