J.W North challenges the defending champions but come up short and the Terriers are able to repeat as division 2 girls’ track and field champions.
The J.W. North track and field team is one of the most decorated programs in the state. The Huskies’ reached national prominence in the mid 90’s and dominated the sport for more than a decade ─ winning 11 total CIF team titles, 46 individual CIF titles,13 individual state titles and one Olympic Gold Medal winner.
But this is a different time and North has been in a drought with not much to brag about since Tommy Curry won the 100 and 200 meters individual championships in 2008.
Six years ago, new head coach Nicole Roberts told the IE Voice News “My goal is to restore the program to its former glory ─ starting with a CIF title”.
This past Saturday, after six seasons of patient tutelage, persistence and lots of hard work the Huskies took one giant step toward Roberts’ goal.
North battled Redlands, the defending division 2 champions to the wire but couldn’t overtake the Terriers, losing the overall team title 53-66.
“I thought we could win if everything feel into place for us”. Said Roberts after accepting the runner up plaque. “Our kids really performed. We just came up short in a couple of areas that could have made up the difference”.
Junior Emem Ibeweke turned in the overall performance of the day. Ibeweke scored points for the team in every one of her events putting North ahead in the early going. But Redlands wouldn’t be denied – picking up points in several events the Huskies’ couldn’t defend and easily held off their hard charging rivals.
Other strong performances came from Emem’s sister M’Fon Ibekewe, Bria Palmer, Samaya Brandon, Miracle Saxon, Clarissa Chagolla and Diamond Tabrow.
North’s 400 meter relay team pulled off one of the bigger surprises of the day winning with a season best time of 3:50.83 and will move on to Friday’s CIF-SS Master’s Meet.
The Boy’s team, although not in championship contention added a prestigious individual title to its list of accomplishments. Junior High Jumper, Elijah Hughes who has been peaking all season jumped 6-09.00 to become the new CIF-SS Champion following in the footsteps of Carter’s Eric Moore who graduated last season. Moore was also the two-time state champion in the High Jump.
“I got a little bit emotional as walked out to the awards area” said Jumps coach Robert Attical. “This was a long time coming but it was well worth the wait”.
It took 8 years for the Huskies’ track & field team to get back to the podium. Attical served under legendary head coaches Charles Leathers and coached former Olympic high jumper Chante Howard a two-time state champion.
With Saturday’s performance, it looks like North has weathered the lean times and at best taken one giant step toward head coach Roberts’ goal.
Roberts, herself a former two-time state champion during North’s glory days certainly understands the challenge and has the team on track to regain its former glory.
The next test comes on Friday when North’s qualifiers will compete in the CIF-SS Masters for an opportunity to move on to the state finals.