Saturday, March 30, 2013
Tip Johnson, Al Young and a few dozen neighbors put together an unusual event in North Augusta High School's stadium March 20, as the Yellow Jackets played host to a track meet for the first time in several years, with Silver Bluff, Aiken and Strom Thurmond as the guests.
Johnson and Young, the team's coaches, both gave the meet a thumbs-up review, with plenty of volunteer support and all of the necessary gear in place.
One of the volunteers estimated that the Jackets' most recent home meet had been in the 2007 season. The return event went "pretty smoothly," in the words of North Augusta's Nik O'Brien, a standout runner who had a part in three first-place finishes.
"It was very exciting," said Young. "We got a lot of ... help from the community. The kids did well."
"It went off without any major hitches," said Johnson. "We're hoping to be able to do more in the future."
As a team, North Augusta won in the boys' category. Following, in order, were Thurmond, Aiken and Silver Bluff.
Aiken was first among the girls' squads. Silver Bluff, North Augusta and Thurmond trailed, in that order.
Referring to North Augusta's track, O'Brien said, "That cement's kind of hard to train on, but when you go to other tracks, it makes you all that faster."
Johnson noted that "the nicer tracks" are typically made of rubber, but also tend to cost $70,000 and up. "That would be the biggest change you could make, but equipment-wise, we pretty much had everything we needed.
"He added that the gear not already in place was provided by way of Dan Pippin, the Jackets' athletic director.
O'Brien assessed Lexington as having this season's strongest track program in Region 5-AAAA, in both the boys' and girls' categories.
Among North Augusta's girls, the top performers were Brianna Dicks, who won the 200-meter dash (timed at 27.43); Brianna Trowell, first in the 100-meter hurdles (18.77); and Ndidi Okafor, winning the high jump (four feet and two inches).
The boys were led by O'Brien, who won the 1,600-meter run (4:34.00) and 3,200-meter run (10:46.00). Joining Antaun Andrews, Daniel Pippen and Jacquez Smith, he was also part of the Jackets' unit for the 4X800-meter relay. They took first (8:38.42).Andrews also won the 400-meter dash (51:56). He and Smith joined Ryan McCain and Jaleel Bryant to place first in the 4X400-meter relay (3:40.84), and Keyon West won the triple jump (38 feet and a half-inch).