For the second consecutive season, the Monroe girls track and field team finished the season as the Class 1A state champion after turning in a dominating performance at Greensboro’s N.C. A&T State University on May 9.
The Redhawks finished with 103 points, well ahead of runner-up Winston-Salem Prep (42).
While last year’s title was largely powered by a pair of stars – Jamie Glenn (now at Appalachian State) and Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins (East Carolina) – Monroe coach Nichole Jackson said this season’s championship took a more widespread effort.
“Overall, we were excited for the kids to experience a team season that wasn’t just riding the coattails of some superstars,” said Jackson. “Kids all over were contributing.
“They’re such different wins. (Glenn and Collins) were such great examples, and I think they helped motivate the younger kids. This year, it was kind of nice to see kids on that podium and know they were able to be a part of it and not just celebrate it.”
That’s not to say that this year’s performance was without its standouts. Junior Reneazia Collins earned Co-Most Valuable Performer honors after taking home three gold medals. She set a meet record in the 400-meter dash (56.28 seconds), shattering the previous mark of 57.40. She also earned wins in the 200 meters (25.47) and the 100 hurdles (15.52).
Jackson said she was surprised by Collins’ performance since she spent the early part of the season in a walking boot with an injured ankle. Collins returned to action on March 27.
“She had just over a month to get ready for a state meet,” Jackson said. “When you lose three weeks of training, when you come back, it’s not like you’re coming back full steam. She came back and not only did she have impressive times, she proved what a competitor she is.”
Kendall Cox also collected an individual win by leaping 17 feet, 10 inches, more than a foot better than the next-closest competitor. She also took third place in the 100 (12.54) and fourth in the 200 (26.44).
Collins and Cox also were joined by Julice Crowder and Zasha Barrett on the Redhawks’ 4×200 relay team, which won gold in 1 minute, 42.66 seconds. Daya Jordan, Simone Gwehi, Asha Jordan and Crowder teamed to place second in the 4×100 (49.73), while the foursome of Daya Jordan, Shikima Gainey, Gwehi and Barrett posted a silver effort in the 4×400 (4:12.17).
Asha Jordan added a bronze medal in the shot put (34-6.5), and Akeyra Hailey (16.77) took fourth place in the 100 hurdles. Gainey added a fifth-place finish in the 300 hurdles (48.76). Crowder took sixth place in the 100 (12.95). Barrett was sixth in the 400 (1:00.58), and Bria Roddy was sixth in the discus (97-9).
Monroe’s other state qualifiers included Kiana Staton, Amilya Mitchell, Dazia McLendon, Tyriona Houston and Dasia Funderburk.
While Jackson said Monroe’s 2012 Class 1A title will always hold a special place in her heart, this year’s state championship might say more about the program’s progress.
“The first one for a school, a program overall, that was very special,” said Jackson. “But to do it again, you’re like, ‘OK, we’re here, and we’re believing.’
“It’s been a process. We’re a small school. Union County has grown, so there’s new zoning and it’s hard to get kids out. It’s hard to build your program, so (it was nice) to see these kids buying into it and participating. The seniors were crying at the end of the meet, even though we were celebrating such a happy thing.”
And hopefully, said Jackson, the win will mean more big things for the Redhawks.
“I think the things they learned by being a part of it will far outlast the times they were able to put up (at the meet),” she said. “To do it again, I feel like (this championship) will have a more lasting effect.”