Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Teams gear up for regional meet

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After a stellar performance in the long jump at last week’s county indoor track and field championships, High Point High School’s Leslie Murray will not get to compete in that event at Tuesday’s 4A East Region meet.

The Baltimore Armory, where the regional meet will be held, does not have a long jump pit, so Murray will concentrate on other events. But last week, he broke the county championship meet record in the long jump with a leap of 22 feet, 8.25 inches. He already has secured the chance to pursue a state long jump title because he has met the qualifying standard for the state meet.

Aside from his record-setting jump at the county meet Jan. 24 at Sports and Learning Complex in Landover, Murray also won the boys’ 500-meter run and took second in the high jump.

High Point coach Omar Sharif said Murray is as valuable an athlete as there is in the county.

‘‘Leslie is a phenomenal athlete. He has the capacity to run and compete in just about any event you put him in,” Sharif said.

Murray admits that the long jump is his passion, but more than anything he just wants to compete.

‘‘This season I’m just trying to get all of the [accolades] that come with running track,” Murray said. ‘‘I’m going to try to do better in high jump than I had in previous years and I’m pretty confident in the 500 now.”

Murray’s senior teammate Peter Gentles may be on the verge of becoming a champion himself. He finished just one second behind county 1,600-meter champion Brian Faherty of Eleanor Roosevelt. Only three seconds separated Gentles from becoming a champion in the 3,200, which Faherty also won.

‘‘I tell Peter he’s a soldier,” Sharif said. ‘‘He comes to practice every day with the attitude that he wants to get better. Any given meet he may run the 500 or the 3,200 and he expects to place every time.”

Raiders taking it in stride

This week may be one of the few times that you will ever hear Eleanor Roosevelt coach Desmond Dunham that he does not care about something associated with track.

‘‘I really don’t care too much about what times our athletes run or where they place,” Dunham said, as his team prepares for the 4A East Region Championships. ‘‘We just want to qualify as many of our runners as possible for the state championships.”

Raiders’ senior Daniel Edmunds could probably care less about how he places or what time he runs as he is coming off a career week. At the county championships on Jan. 24, Edmunds set a new meet record in the 800 meters and followed that performance with a second-place finish (1 minute, 56.3 seconds) at the Virginia Tech Invitational last weekend.

Dunham attributed Edmunds’ improvement to the senior’s willingness to think and train out of the box.

‘‘Cross county provided a strength base. I definitely have opened up to that and that has definitely given me the base that I need,” Edmunds said. ‘‘The weight room as well. I used to hate the weight room, but lifting has definitely helped me.”

The Roosevelt boys and girls both were dethroned at the county championships after sweeping the meet for three straight years. But several Roosevelt athletes are almost certain to qualify for the state championships.

The Raiders have runners to watch in the distance events, in Dominique Lockhart and Brian Faherty.

Raiders’ senior Tasha Stanley is fresh off a county title in the 300, with teammate Doris Anyanwu not far behind.

Senior Brittany Ogun-Mokun (500, relays) and Amirah Johnson (800, relays) also should fare well.

E-mail Terron Hampton atthampton@gazette.net.