Despite small roster, Monroe dominates track, field for state title
by Aaron Garcia
When Monroe High School girls track and field coach Nichole Jackson walked into the pre-race coaches’ meeting before the Class 1A state meet on the morning of May 12, her peers in the room seemed to know what was in store.
According to Jackson, her fellow coaches joked that as long as the Redhawks’ bus cranked up that morning, the overall title was Monroe’s to lose.
“I told them, ‘Well, wouldn’t you know it, we got on the bus this morning and there wasn’t any gas,’” Jackson recalled with a laugh. “So we had to run over to the gas station pretty quickly.”
But that would be as close as the rest of the state would come to the 2012 Class 1A title.
Despite taking only nine athletes to the state meet at Greensboro’s N.C. A&T State University, Monroe captured first place in dominant fashion, notching 101 points, nearly double that of runner-up Hendersonville, which finished with 54.
Redhawks senior Janieyah “Ladybug” Collins, an East Carolina recruit, earned the meet’s Most Outstanding Performer award after capturing wins in the 200-meter dash (25.22 seconds) and the 300 hurdles (45.34) while also finishing second in the 100 (12.42). She also anchored the Redhawks’ 4×200-meter relay team, joining Reneazia Collins, Kendall Cox and Simone Gwehi in setting a 1A state meet record of 1:41.30.
Reneazia Collins also was exceptional. The sophomore took gold in the the 100 hurdles (15.48) and the 400 (57.41) while also finishing second in the 200 (25.67).
“She was ready to get a breakthrough,” said Jackson of Reneazia Collins. “I knew she was good, but she stepped up her game the last three weeks of the season.”
Appalachian State recruit Jamie Glenn also finished her career on a high note. For starters, the senior set a 1A state meet standard in the triple jump with a gold-medal-winning effort of 38 feet, 4 inches. Glenn also placed fourth in the long jump (17-1) and third in the shot put (34-5.5). Cox added a fifth-place finish in the long jump (16-11), and freshman Zasha Barrett added a sixth-place effort in the high jump (5-0).
Monroe’s roster also included Julice Crowder, Shakima Gainey and Akeyra Hailey.
The Redhawks had come painfully close to a state title in recent years, finishing third in 2011 and fourth in 2010, which Jackson said makes their 2012 title even sweeter, especially for seniors such as Glenn and Ladybug Collins.
“It couldn’t have been anything better,” said Jackson. “That’s just what you hope for and work for for years. (The seniors) have been that foundation for our program to grow and improve. We’ve put a lot on their backs, so it was just the perfect ending for them.”