Neither Alexus Alston nor Trey Myers had to dig deep into their memory banks to build motivation for the 2017 track and field campaign.
Sure, every senior athlete wants to ride off into the sunset, leaving as the best at what they do. But for the St. James standouts, it goes much deeper than that.
Primed for their first state title a season ago, both experienced their own share of bad luck. While it was a competitor falling into the lane of Alston that derailed her pursuit in the 400-meter hurdles, less than a second separated Myers from top spot on the medal stand.
On Saturday, the pair hopes not to have to rely on luck to thrive, instead allowing their hard work and God-given ability to lead them to a gold medal.
The St. James track standouts are among a select group of area athletes pursuing titles at this weekend’s state meet. Myers will take part in the Class 4A boys 110- and 400-meter hurdle events, while Alston will be the Class 4A girls 100- and 400-meter hurdle races.
“At the end of last year both athletes had a let down at the state meet as they both fell short of their ultimate goal (winning the state championship),” said St. James track coach Jacob Scheuer. “This season it’s not about getting there and running well, it’s about getting it done and bringing home the victory.”
Friday night’s session at Columbia’s Harry Parone Stadium — starting at 5 p.m. — focuses solely on field events, among them the long and high jump, discus throw, pole vault and shot put. Business picks up at 9 a.m. Saturday morning at the same venue, with non-stop action till well beyond 8 p.m. that evening.
While Myers and Alston seek their first opportunity to strike gold, the Waccamaw girls track team is looking to add another chapter to its illustrious history.
Six Warriors qualified for the Class 3A state meet, with the girls’ 3,200-meter relay team also making the trip this weekend. Annabelle Scully and Briley Arnold are good bets in the 3,200-meter run and 400-meter hurdles, respectively.
However, this journey is far different from last year, the squad dedicating its effort to the contributor to last year’s championship no longer with them.
The Warriors have added incentive as they are performing in honor of their late teammate, Jamisa Lewis, who died in a vehicle accident March 4.
“It’s been a tough season with losing one of our teammates that qualified last year,” coach Bill Peterman said. “I’m real proud of our boys and girls.”
Waccamaw’s Jackson Junkins — the Lower State champion in the 400-meter event — also has eyes on a Class 3A championship.
A two-time Lower State 2A champion with wins in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, Carvers Bay’s Melissa Jefferson is looking to finish the season by adding a state title to her resume. Loris’ Andrew Wilson and Teeyana Long look to claim top honors in the boys 3A shot put and girls 3A high jump.
AREA QUALIFIERS FOR STATE TRACK MEET
Individuals: Kayla Watkins (Carolina Forest) high jump, long jump; Kishanda Adams (Conway) shot put.
Individuals: Raiqwon O’Neal (Conway) shot put.
Individuals: Felicity Weber (St. James) pole vault; Emily Barbosa (North Myrtle Beach) pole vault; Alexus Alston (St. James) 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles; Ka’Mauri Humes (St. James) 400m, 200m.
Relay teams: North Myrtle Beach (3,200m, 400m).
Individuals: Chris Anderson (St. James) pole vault; Trey Myers (St. James) 110m hurdles, 400m hurdles.
Individuals: Annabelle Scully (Waccamaw) 3,200m, 800m; Lillian Eddy (Waccamaw) 3,200m; Briley Arnold (Waccamaw) 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles; Teeyana Long (Loris) high jump; Ava Markham (Waccamaw) high jump; Morgan Seganti (Waccamaw) pole vault; Aleah Bromell (Waccamaw) shot put; Keioshya Davis (Loris) shot put, discus.
Relay teams: Loris (400m); Waccamaw (3,200m).
Individuals: Jackson Junkins (Waccamaw) 400m, 200m, pole vault; Tyfiq James (Waccamaw) 800m; Perrin Jones (Waccamaw) 1,600m, 3,200m; Reginald Point (Georgetown) high jump; Andrew Wilson (Loris) shot put; Calvin Johnson (Georgetown) long jump.
Relay teams: Waccamaw (3,200m).
Individuals: Melissa Jefferson (Carvers Bay) 100m, 200m.
Relay teams: Carvers Bay (400m, 1,600m).
Individuals: Toronto King (Carvers Bay) 100m, long jump; Norman Goss (Carvers Bay) discus; Emmanuel Tatum (Carvers Bay) shot put; Daronn Clark (Carvers Bay) triple jump.
Relay teams: Carvers Bay (400m).
Individuals: Autumn Slobodiak (Green Sea Floyds) 100m hurdles, 3,200m; Brianna Ellis (Green Sea Floyds) 800m; Zian Johnson (Green Sea Floyds) triple jump.
Relay teams: Green Sea Floyds (3,200m).