Gunter 3rd in 200, St. Pauls’ relay teams 6th at track championships
GREENSBORO — Martev Gunter was determined to give everything he had in his final high school race.
The result got him a bronze medal at the state championships.
Gunter finished third in the 200-meter dash at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s 2A state championships in Greensboro Friday, winning his heat in the race before two runners in the other heat narrowly posted a faster time.
“I just felt like I just had to go — there wasn’t no holding back,” Gunter said. “My last race of my high school career doing track. I felt like if I was in the fast heat, I would’ve at least got first or second, I wouldn’t have been third. But I was in the first heat, first place (in the heat); if I would’ve had somebody to run off of I feel like I would’ve got first or second. It was great, though, it was a fun race.”
Gunter was the ninth-fastest qualifier and ran in the “slow heat,” in which the ninth- to 16th-seeded runners ran against each other head-to-head, before the “fast heat” with the top eight qualifiers followed. His time of 22.22 seconds was 0.46 seconds faster than the next-fastest runner in his heat, and was more than seven-tenths of a second faster than his seed time.
“(It’s) focus — he wanted it really bad,” St. Pauls head coach Charles Johnson said. “It’s good whenever it’s on your shoulders … he left it on the track, that’s exactly what he did. He did what he had to do.”
Cummings’ Jonathan Paylor (21.96 seconds) and Eastern Wayne’s Rahkeem Faison (22.09 seconds) ran faster times in the second heat of the two-heat final to place first and second.
“If he would’ve been in that second heat with those guys, I feel like he definitely could have pushed them for that top spot, but finishing third overall from that first heat, that’s still impressive,” St. Pauls coach Dominique Bridges said.
Gunter was also part of two Bulldogs relay teams that earned sixth-place finishes; both finished fifth in their heat. The 4×200 relay team of Javier Ortiz, Jamarcus Simmons, Eddrick James and Gunter finished in 1 minute, 32.15 seconds, and despite the strong finish felt like they could have placed even better after a difficult baton exchange between Ortiz and Simmons.
“I’m going to be real — the sun got to me,” Ortiz said after the race, standing in near-100-degree heat. “I was fixing to pass out when I came around the curve, and then when I got down here (to the handoff), I couldn’t see my man. So I was just looking, I was about blind, and I just gave it to him anyway.”
Red Springs’ team of Dylan Dean, Curtis Wilson, Jaaron Monroe and Mariusz Monroe ran the earlier heat in the 4×200 relay, finishing 11th overall and fourth in the heat in 1:33.29.
In the 4×100 relay, another baton exchange cost St. Pauls some time; the team of Kemarion Baldwin, James, Robbie Powell and Gunter still finished in 44.00 to match the sixth-place finish from the earlier relay.
“I got a good start; I gave the baton to (James) and I thought we had it,” Baldwin said. “That handoff right there (later in the race) messed us up, but at the end of the day things happen.”
“I just couldn’t hear (James) — the first handoff we’ve messed up all season,” Powell said.
Five of the six relay participants for St. Pauls — all except Baldwin — were seniors who have played multiple sports and were participating in their final events in high school athletics.
“I’m glad me and my boys did what we had to do,” Gunter said. “Even though we didn’t win, I’m still proud of what we did.”
“I think it meant a lot for them to end on a high note,” Johnson said. “They may not have gotten what they wanted to get but they still ended on a high note, and we’re taking some take positive vibes back to the school and we’ll rebuild for next season.”
While the seniors led the relay success, another high note for the Bulldogs came from freshman Theophilus Setzer, who won his heat and finished ninth overall in the 400-meters.
“I knew going into the first heat that was the slower heat, so my main mentality was just to win that heat so I’d have a better chance of winning (overall),” Setzer said. “When I got done I felt like I was a lot faster than my time showed. … I’ve just got to get better at my last stride next year and hopefully I’ll be placed in the top three.”
Setzer’s strong run as an underclassman, finishing second among freshmen, provides hope that he can return to states in the future and contend for the podium in the event.
“It feels good, because I know most of the people that beat me are seniors or juniors, so I feel like I’m going to have a better chance moving on to place next year,” Setzer said.
Hope Morgan also competed Friday for St. Pauls; the sophomore finished tied for 10th in the girls high jump with a jump of four feet, eight inches, as the entirety of a tightly-bunched field was within six inches of winner Katarina Kepley from West Davidson.
Fairmont’s Kiara Campbell participated in two individual races on the day. The Golden Tornadoes junior finished 12th overall in the 100-meter dash preliminaries, taking sixth in her heat in 13.03 seconds.
She also ran the 400-meters, finishing 15th overall and seventh in her heat in 1:07.86.
Brianna Davis, from Fairmont, finished 13th overall and seventh in her heat in the 300-meter hurdles in 53.86 seconds.
Fairmont’s girls 4×100 relay team, composed of Kiara Smith, Jaraelynn Parker, Izya Dinnerson and Davis, finished 15th overall and seventh in its heat in 54.44 seconds.
In addition to its 4×200 relay team, Red Springs was represented by Monica Washington, who finished 13th in the shot put with a throw of 30-00.50.
Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.