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Heathwood Hall “Grits” Its Way To Four Point Win Over Porter-Gaud To Earn A SCISA AAA Boy’s Track Title,

Heathwood Hall “Grits” Its Way To Four Point Win Over Porter-Gaud To Earn A SCISA AAA Boy’s Track Title,

Jefferson & Davis of Ben Lippen Go Out With Four Gold Medals Each For Ben Lippen  

By Billy G. Baker


Charleston—The Heathwood Hall boy’s track team got a major boost when football player Ronnie Porter decided to join the team in the middle of track season, and his 21.5 points he produced at the SCISA AAA Boy’s championships on May, 1 was the difference in the Highlanders 125-121 narrow win over second place Porter Gaud on the Cyclones home track.

Heathwood Hall and Porter-Gaud stayed within four points of one another over the final four events of the warm Saturday afternoon state finals event. In the final relay event of the day the 4X800 team of Harthwood Hall placed fourth, while the Porter-Gaud team finished 7th defining just how close and competitive it was between these top two teams all day.

Heathwood Hall head track coach missed the track championships to attend her daughter’s college graduation ceremony in Charlotte on Saturday but she followed the meet all day and stayed in communication with her assistant coaches throughout the day. “I can’t say enough about our senior boy’s and how all of them stepped up for an extraordinary accomplishment today against a very talented and well-coached Porter-Gaud team,” said head coach Cindy Scanella reached by phone after the meet.

“Our top points producer today was senior Christian Pearson with 26 points and I am so happy for him (signed track scholarship with Morehouse College in Atlanta) because he transferred into our program a year ago and was so excited about the season starting and then we got shut-down because of Covid-19, so he and our other seniors came into this season focused more than ever at doing whatever it took to help the team,” said Coach Scanella. “Christian was not feeling well today but he gutted it out and competed anyway. (Pearson placed second in the 3200 in 10:05.60, second in the 1600 in 4:37.05, and second in the 800 (2:00.93).  

“Another senior middle distance runner Robert Golden (placed second in the 1600 at 4:37.07) came up to me after a meet at Myrtle Beach two weeks ago, and although he competes regularly in three events he asked if he could add a fourth event at the state meet because in our virtual meet we played out against Porter-Gaud it looked like they were 15 points better than we were,” said Coach Scanella. “We were not supposed to beat Porter-Gaud today and we knew it was going to take some extraordinary efforts, and for things to go our way, just have a chance, and it all came together for us and I am just happy for all our team members.

“Even having senior Ronnie Porter join the team in mid-season it helped our long jump event and he helped us on our 4X100 relay team but him winning the Shot-Put (44-00) and discus (122-03) today was a tremendous boost to the team and gave us a chance to make up ground,” said Coach Scanella. “Kalvin Tobias has an extraordinary day in the sprints placing second in the 100 (11.61) and 200 (23.12) to help the team.

“I can honesty say just about everyone’s performance at the state meet today was their personal best for the season and that is what you hopes happens,” said Coach Scanella. “Just about every meet this season many athletes kept getting personal bests from meet-to meet. I have coached in college at Cal-Berkeley, and at many different levels in high school, and I can honesty say this team achieved through grit and perseverance more than any team I have ever coached. There was no “I” in this team and these boys loved one another and stepped up to perform an extra event to help the team. It is just an amazing accomplishment.”

Myles Roberts took gold in the 400-meters (58:20) and third in the 110 hurdles (16.89) to help Heathwood Hall. In the all-important fourth place finish in the 4X800 relay at the end of the meet Highlander performers were Myan Patel, Alex McLeod, James Hiott, and Gawyn Mathis.

Veteran Porter-Gaud boy’s and girl’s track coach Hugh Knight talked about the great participation in track at his school. “Even though we came just a little short with our boys’ team winning a state title this year, we qualified 44 athletes from both teams for the state meet and we are very proud of that kind of commitment from our track athletes,” said Coach Knight. “We are graduating 18 seniors from both teams and we wish each and every one of them the very best going forward.”

Coach Knight noted his first- place performances at the meet, the majority of them established new schools’ records. Trevor Wilder set a school record placing first in the 400 meters (50.55) and Walker Creswell won the pole vault (10-6), while Kyle Lafayette won the triple jump (45-02) and he placed second in the long jump (19.07.25). Carswell and Denham Wojeik placed 1-2 in the high jump at 6-02 and 6-00 respectively. Hugh Werber took gold in the pole vault at 10-06.

The 4X100 relay team of Carswell, Wojcik, Wilder and Lafayette won gold and set a new school record (43.60). “In the 19 years I have coached at Porter-Guard we have been fortunate to have won 9 state titles (8 with the boys & one with the girls,” said Coach Knight. “We are proud of Callie Harper for earning a track scholarship to Furman.”

The AAA meet bid farewell to perhaps SCISA’s best- known sprinter in recent memory in the person of Prescott Jefferson from Ben Lippen. Jefferson, who scored 32.5 points in the meet, smoked the field winning gold in the 100 (10.95), the 200 (22.55) and in the 400 (50.43) plus he anchored the winning 4X400 (8:53.89) relay team. “First of all, I give all the honor and glory to God,” said Prescott headed to USC on a track scholarship. “I came out here and told everyone that while track is an individual sport, I tis also a team point and that every point matter and every position count even if you a 6th place finish. Two years ago, we won state by one point and was the difference between sixth place and 7th place.

“If you come out here and lay it all on the line you are going to help the team, get where it wants to go,” said Jefferson who quit playing football after his sophomore season to devote full-time energy to his track goals. “I have pretty much been 24-7 devoted to track the past two seasons. During the Covid-19 shut-down last spring I gained a little bit of weight but starting early in the summer I started working out everyday and pushing myself.

“I feel like my best event in the SEC will be in the 200,” he said. “I like being a versatile athlete and helping the team as much as I can so that is why I also run the 100 and 400 also.” Currently Jefferson’s 200 time is the 5th best time in the nation this year while his 100 time is 13th in the nation.  

Jefferson’s teammate John Davis, committed to Western Carolina, also produced 32.5 points for Ben Lippen as he and Jefferson were the top points producers at the AAA boy’s meet. Davis won the 800 (2:00.36), the 1600 (4:36.24) and the 3200 (10:02.90-personal best) plus ran the third leg on the winning 4X100 relay.

“My goal was to always keep improving so I could be useful to my team,” said Davis. “In track you hold yourself to a standard and you keep working to improve and elevate that standard. Track takes a lot of stamina and commitment and I hope to keep improving when I get to the next level.”

Jefferson has been named the 2021 HSSR-SCISA Mr. Track while Davis has been named the HSSR-SCISA AAA Boy’s Runners of the Year. The HSSR-SCISA AAA Boy’s Coach of the Year is Cindy Scanella of Heathwood Hall.   

Ben Lippen placed third at the meet with 102 points, Wilson Hall was fourth with 56 points and Hammond claimed 5th place with 42 points. The next six AAA teams in order of finish were Cardinal Newman (25), Trinity Collegiate (17), Pinewood Prep (12) and First Baptist and Laurence Manning tied with 8 points each.      

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