Commemorative championship T-shirts are en vogue these days at North Johnston High School -- thanks to sophomore Dylan Pinder.
Following Saturday’s four-crown effort at the NCHSAA 2A Track and Field Championships, Pinder has now collected six career state titles.
And with each victory comes a T-shirt courtesy of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association.
Pinder figured he only needed one of the shirts, so he has been busy handing them out to his parents and members of the North coaching staff.
At this rate, more recipients are destined to be gifted by Pinder, who still has two years remaining in his high school career. After winning two events as a ninth-grader, Pinder expanded his success last Saturday with boys wheelchair victories in the shot put, discus, 100 and 200 at Aggie Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T State University.
Pinder set personal bests in each event and claimed the title in the both shot put and discus on his sixth and final attempt.
“This is one of the best days of my life,’’ Pinder said.
After joining the NJHS track and field program as a freshman, Pinder was an immediate standout in the sprints, but worked hard to improve and learn in the throws.
“The best thing about Dylan is that he came in when he was in the ninth grade and told me he wanted to run track,’’ said NJHS coach Jason Wilson. “I told him he would be treated like any other athlete, and he would have to work just as hard as them. He said that was all he expected.’’
Pinder was a gold medalist in 2014 in the 100 and 200, and claimed a silver in the shot put. He decided to add the discus to his competition list this spring, but he got behind in his training due to illness.
“The most amazing thing is that Dylan has had a tough year physically,’’ Wilson said. “He was sick at the start of track season and missed a lot of school. Then he had his wisdom teeth removed. So really, he’s only been able to practice full-time for the past two weeks. He did a great job of getting into shape.’’
Pinder seemed a bit surprised at the attention he received last Saturday, including several interview requests and a standing ovation as he headed toward the finish line in the 200.
“When I first decided to do track, I just wanted to go out there and try something new,’’ Pinder said.
Pinder wasn’t the only North Johnston athlete to visit the medals stand at the states.
Senior veteran Tangela Williams closed out her career by taking second in the girls triple jump for the second consecutive year.
Williams also earned fifth place in the long jump and has signed to join the track and field program at Winston-Salem State University.
North’s Quasheila Thorne, a sophomore, was eighth in the girls 400.
Bayless takes third in 1A pole vault
Princeton senior Martin Bayless completed his high school track career with a bronze medal in the 1A State Championships on Friday. Bayless cleared 12 feet in the pole vault to earn third in the state.
Fourth place finishes went to Neuse Charter’s Maurice Watson in the boys 200 meters (23.02) seconds and Princeton freshman Shamonda Bell in the girls 200 (26.03). Bell was also eight in the 100.
Johnny Frasier, an N.C. State football recruit also finished fifth in the 100 hurdles. Frasier ran a 16.51 in the event.
Princeton’s Shae Malham finished sixth in the girls pole vault and Jose Aguillon was eighth in the boys 1,600. Aguillon also placed 11th in the 3,200.
Other state participants for the Bulldogs were Kaylee Bice (11th girls pole vault), Megan Evans (14th girls 3,200), Luke Brush (12th boys pole vault) and Earl Gibson (14th boys long jump).
D. Clay Best contributed.