ROCKINGHAM — Unlike last week when they were the favorite in several events at the 4A East Region meet, things will be a little different Saturday at the state championship for members of the Richmond Senior track team.
Travis Newton, the only individual Richmond athlete to be competing, is seeded fifth in both the 100 and 200. After winning both events in Wilmington last week, Newton believes he will be able to match his success in the state meet.
“I just have to keep myself calm and not be nervous,” Newton said. “When I am warming up, I will feel more confident.”
Newton, a senior, only started running track last year and even then he had to be coaxed to give it a try. After breaking his ankle playing football as a freshman, Newton was worried he would injury himself again so he didn’t think about playing football or trying another sport.
“My PE teacher (Steve Milligan) told me I should go out for track,” Newton said. “I didn’t think I was cut out for it because I wasn’t in shape.”
When Newton was first out there, he said the coaches were looking at him as a middle distance runner. Then came the day when Newton’s fortune was changed.
“I always knew I was fast,” Newton said. “I wish I would have run as a ninth-grader.”
Richmond girls track coach Reggie Miller, who coached the boys last year, laughed when he recalled he tried to peg Newton as a 400 and 800 runner.
“He said he was a sprinter, so I put him out there with I think it was Tafari Rose and Trent Greene in the 200,” Miller said. “He is out there running in basketball shoes…high tops…and he beats them by like 15 yards. Right then we knew he was a sprinter.”
Miller added it was during the Weddington Invitational last spring when Newton started running in the 100 as well. Miller said he wasn’t sure Newton was going to be successful, but went with the advice of Eric Gould, who is now the boys track coach.
“It wasn’t me, I didn’t see it,” Miller said. “It was all Coach Gould.”
In addition to his individual events, Newton is part of Richmond’s 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
Richmond is seeded second in the 4x200 and sixth in the 4x100.
Knightdale has the best time in the 4x200 and will be the top seed. Knightdale’s time is just 0.07 seconds better than Richmond. In the 4x100, Mallard Creek, Butler, Garner, Wake Forest and Millbrook have posted faster times this season than Richmond.
Newton believes Richmond’s best chance to win a relay title is in the 4x200.
“We’re all pretty strong in the 200,” Newton said.
Joining Newton on the relay teams will be Isaiah Brewington, Jayvon Boyer and Gus Chambers.
The state 4A meet will begin 10 a.m. Saturday at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro.
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.