Knightdale ran (and jumped) away with the N.C. High School Athletic Association indoor track championship in February to claim its fourth consecutive state title.
The Knights are the favorites as they seek a matching fourth straight outdoor crown this spring.
Marquavious Johnson won the 400 meters outdoors in 2013 and added the 500 meters indoor title this winter. The East Carolina football and track recruit is one of the top prep athletes in the state.
He said winning is more of an expectation than a hope this spring.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The News & Observer
“We’re just preparing,” Johnson said. “We know everyone is trying to take (the title) away from us, but we want to keep the confidence we have, keep working as a team and stick to what got us here in the first place – practicing like we’re in the track meet and just go hard all the time.
“We just want to have fun and we like winning. We don’t want to be the group to stop the process going.”
His teammate Kimani Hoffman won the outdoor triple jump in 2013 and added the long jump and triple jump indoor crowns. Jamie Brown won the state indoor high jump.
The Knights relays – which have included Marquavious Johnson and his brother Marcell Johnson, Nate Harvey, Corey Aikens and Henry Kiedy – are expected to be exceptional.
Returning area champions
Marquavious Johnson, Knightdale, Sr.: East Carolina football and track recruit was 4A 400 champion (47.16 seconds) outdoors and 500 champ indoors (1:04.05).
Marcus Krah, Hillside, Soph.: 4A long jump champion (23 feet, 1 inch) outdoors and indoor 55 hurdles champ (7.43 seconds).
Kimani Hoffman, Knightdale, Sr.: 4A triple jump champion (46 feet, 8 inches) outdoors and indoor champion in the long jump (22-feet, 11 inches) and the triple jump (48 feet, 1 inch). Appalachian State recruit.
Joe Devries, Apex, Sr.: 4A pole vault champion outdoors (14 feet) and indoors (15 feet, 6 inches).
Jonathan Avery, Cary Academy, Jr.: NCISAA 3A 100 champion (11.08 seconds).
Josh McCoy, Ravenscroft, Sr.: NCISAA 3A high jump (6 feet, 4 inches) and pole vault (13-foot, 6 inches) champion.
Gregory Harper, Ravenscroft, Sr.: NCISAA 3A long jump (22-feet, .5 inch) and triple jump (44 feet, 3.75 inches) champion.
Others to watch
Johnny Frasier, Princeton, Jr.: Big-time football recruit was second in 1A 100 (10.74 seconds)
Bryce Love, Wake Forest, Jr.: Second in the 4A 100 (10.68) and third in 4A 200 (21.64).
William Roberson, Broughton, Sr.: N.C. State recruit was 4A 3,200 runner-up (9:21.23).
Xavier Carter, West Johnston, Sr.: Third in 4A 110 hurdles (14.65).
Nyheim Hines, Garner, Jr.: Third in 4A 300 hurdles (38.28).
Jamaree Murray, Southeast Raleigh, Sr.: 300-meter 4A indoor champion (34.74 seconds) and 500 runner-up (1:04.36); also second in 4A 400 (47.85) outdoors last spring.
Ryan Speer, North Raleigh Christian, Jr.: NCISAA champion in the 1,600 and runner-up in the 800.
Garrett Anderson, Ravenscroft, Sr. NCISAA 3A pole vault runner up (13-6).
Elijah Mallory, Wakefield, Sr.: 4A indoor runner-up in the shot put (54 feet. 2 1/2 inches).