Enoch Cheung fell short – literally – of a state title and his season’s best time, but the Raleigh Charter sophomore drew loud “oohs and “ahhs” Friday at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A track and field championships.
Fans appreciate a scrappy athlete that gets back up after falling down.
Cheung tumbled after clearing the last of the 300-meter hurdles and was sprawled out on the track a few feet short of the finish line. But he scrambled halfway to his feet and lunged his torso across the finish the trigger the electronic timing device.
“I had worked hard since the beginning of the season, and I couldn’t give up,” explained Cheung.
The crowd reacted twice – once in live action and again to the replay on the videoboard at Aggie Stadium on North Carolina A&T’s campus.
He was credited with a second-place time of 40.91 seconds, just shy of both the winning mark 40.69 by South Creek’s Jermaine Smith and his goal of dipping below 40 seconds. The tumble had to be worth at least a second.
“I was going for a low 39 or a high 38 and I felt good,” Cheung said. “I’m a little disappointed I didn’t win, but it will be motivation for me next year.”
Cheung said his disappointing seventh-place finish in the 110 high hurdles focused his attention on the longer event.
Cheung, Princeton sophomore Shamonda Bell and Franklin Academy freshman Caitlyn Burkett highlighted the 1A meet for area athletes with runner-up finishes.
Bell placed second in the 200 meters in 25.75 in addition to taking home a fourth-place medal in the 100 (12.39). That’s one more medal than a year ago when she was fourth in the 200 and eighth in the 100.
“I can’t describe how happy I am,” Bell said. “I wanted to win, but I’m happy I improved over last year. I’ve learned to never give up. This year I was more serious about it.”
Burkett ran two personal bests in the 1,600 and 3,200, but the longer race was worth a silver medal with a time of 12:00.59. She was in third for the first six laps before making a move on the seventh lap and holding second the rest of the way behind another freshman, Lincoln Charter’s Michaela Gammon (11:54.64).
“I kept pushing because my fifth and sixth laps have been my slowest,” Burkett said. “The seventh lap I felt good. I’m extremely happy.”
Princeton junior Austin Sullivan used a kick to accomplish two goals – breaking 4:40 and earning a medal. His 4:39.16 was allowed him to step up onto the medal platform for his fourth-place award. The top four finishers took home medals.
“It was a lot of hard work this year,” Sullivan said. “It was worth it.”
Research Triangle senior Madison Daniel was disappointed with his third-place finish in the 800 (2:01.45) and not placing in the 1,600 after taking second in both events a year ago, but he said he was proud of his career at the fourth-year school.
“I should have kicked earlier, but I can’t complain,” Daniel said. “I loved competing for the school and helping start the programs.”
Daniel also ran a leg on the 4x800 relay team with Andy Klappenbach, Jack Puryear and Michael Swepson that placed second (8:23.42).
Chatham Central senior Tre Edwards was second in the boys triple jump, 45-0; Louisburg senior Breasia Williams, third in the girls shot put, 37-5; Raleigh Charter freshman Gillian Scott, fourth in the girls 3,200, 12:18.35; and Raleigh Charter junior Timmy O’Neill, fourth in the boys 3,200, 9:59.43.
Rosewood’s Marquail Al-montaser was third in the 110 high hurdles in 15.47. Rosewood’s team of Ethan Chapin, Montonio Wheeler, Alex Godwin and Zack Barnes won the 4x400 relay in 3:29.00.