Tarboro High hurdler Todd Gurley is in France this week competing for the U.S. team in the IAAF World Youth Championships, but another area standout expected to make the trip - Millbrook sprint champion Keith Marshall - did not.
Marshall, who won the 100-meters in U.S. qualifying last week at Myrtle Beach, S.C., said Tuesday that he had a passport issue. So instead of competing in Lille, France, Marshall is preparing for the football season.
The Millbrook running back is ranked among the top football prospects in the country.
Gurley, who is also an outstanding football player, is expected to begin World Youth competition in the 110-meter hurdles on Thursday.
"He is raw as a hurdler, but he is extremely powerful," said Dave Simpson, who coaches Gurley's club track team. "Todd is still improving his technique."
Gurley won his spot on the U.S. squad by running a personal best 13.88 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles during qualifying.
Girls pole vaulter Sydney White of East Forsyth also is on the U.S. team in France.
Softball bat rules: The National Federation of State High School Associations Softball Rules Committee has changed the penalty for using an illegal bat in high school softball games. Coaches can now be ejected if a player uses an illegal bat.
The penalty had previously been an out assigned to the batter, but it was expanded to state, "when the illegal bat is an altered or nonapproved bat, the batter and the head coach are also ejected."
"For blatant violations such as this, the committee wants to stress accountability for both coaches and players," Mary Struckhoff, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Softball Rules Committee, said in a release. "This is a very significant change, since safety and integrity issues are at stake."
The committee also deleted "white" from the list of permissible colors for softballs. The balls must now be optic yellow.
Pride adds lacrosse: Leesville Road plans to field boys and girls lacrosse teams next spring.
"I think it's exciting for not only our students, but for everybody," Leesville Road athletic director Jack Rogers said. "It's exciting for us as an athletic department to add a new sport. I think we'll be competitive."
Ravens girls golf: Doug Hodges, a PGA professional at Heritage Golf Club in Wake Forest, will be the Ravenscroft girls golf coach next season.
Cougar transfers: Cassandra Mitchell, who played basketball for three years at Apex before moving to California, attended St. Augustine's College during the 2010-11 season but is transferring to Mobile (Ala.) Spring Hill College.
Preseason football scrimmages: Wake Forest-Rolesville, which played for the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-AA football title in 2010, will be the host school for the Mellow Mushroom Pigskin Classic on Friday, Aug. 12.
The featured matchup has Wake Forest playing Panther Creek at 8 p.m. The two schools played for the 4-AA Eastern Regional title last fall.
The other matchups are Bunn vs. Oxford Webb (5 p.m.); Wake Forest Heritage vs. East Wake (6 p.m.); and Leesville Road vs. Rocky Mount (7 p.m.).
On Thursday, Aug. 11, Garner will be the host for an eight-team scrimmage. Clayton, West Johnston, Richmond County and Middle Creek will hit in the first session at 6 p.m., and Garner, Southeast Raleigh, South Johnston and Cary will scrimmage beginning at 8 p.m.
Southeast Raleigh will be the host school for a series of five scrimmages on Saturday, Aug. 13. Knightdale and Broughton open the event at 3 p.m., followed by Clayton vs. Middle Creek (4:15); West Johnston vs. Millbrook (5:30); Garner vs. Wakefield (6:45); and Southeast Raleigh vs. Cary (8:00).
Staff writer Nate Taylor contributed to this report
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