City League Roundup: Northland Vikings girls track team works to recapture 2019 form

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Northland junior Nasia Bailey runs the first leg of the 1,600 relay during the Northland Relays on March 27. The Vikings girls team will be trying to capture a fifth consecutive City League championship.

With about a month remaining before the City League meet is held May 11 and 13 at Africentric, the Northland girls track and field team has been trying to recapture some of the mojo it lost during the last year. 

The Vikings have won the last four City championships, and coach Tom Fast believes they had a strong chance to make it five in a row last spring before the season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Having a late-starting cross country season last fall also didn't help Northland, which typically has one of the stronger distance programs in the City.

“It’s been rough,” said Fast, who is in his 17th season. “Last fall we didn’t get the cross country participation that we wanted. These freshmen have no idea we’ve won the City four straight years. … I think we’ll score in every single event and I’d say middle distance to distance is probably our strength. My philosophy is that if you win the (3,200-meter relay) you win the City.” 

One positive is that several of the Vikings’ top runners from 2019 have returned.

In addition, junior Nahdia Alcorn is a returnee who Fast believes could be among the City's best in sprints or middle-distance races.

Three members of Northland’s 3,200 relay that won the City title in 2019 – senior Tyra Thomas and juniors Nahjae Alcorn and Nasia Bailey – have returned, although Bailey’s status is uncertain because of an injury. 

Juniors Rain McGregory (sprints, middle distance) and Andrasia Wilson (hurdles, high jump) also are returnees from 2019. 

Senior Diarra Rogers (sprints, hurdles), juniors Kylah Carter (shot put, discus), Elyse Christian (shot put, discus) and Nadia Jalloh (sprints), sophomore Raegan Johnson (sprints) and freshmen Destiny Knight (sprints) and Jasmine Reed (sprints) are others looking to contribute.

The boys team has one returnee from 2019 in junior sprinter Vincent Sackeyfio. 

Other leaders should include senior Shemar Watson and junior Rob Dorsey, both of whom were expected to be a part of the program for the first time last spring, and senior Kion Lewis, who was a key contributor as a freshman in 2018. 

“We have a number of kids that are new to track and are progressing really quickly,” fifth-year boys coach Gerald Baker said. “We’re just kind of looking and seeing right now. We’ve got a lot of young guys.” 

New Stars coaches 

excited for season 

The Centennial boys and girls track teams are under new leadership, although boys coach Bobby Witcher previously had served as an assistant. 

While Witcher has taken over after Darrin Green led the program for five seasons, Timia Easley is the new girls coach after Brittni White had been the coach for three seasons. 

“We want to do the little things and compete,” Witcher said. “I’m not saying we’re going to get teams to the state championship, but as the first-year coach, we want to be doing the little technical things and having them know what it means to be in this program.” 

Witcher, who was supposed to have been the coach last spring after being an assistant for five years, is a 1995 Brookhaven graduate whose team returns seniors Aaron Bendolph (sprints) and Justin Bridges (distance). 

Seniors Sammy Cruz-Rivera, Ronald Darling, Tyreek Gunnell and Colin Murphy and freshman Amir Jones are among the top sprinters, with senior Colin Murphy leading a middle distance and distance corps that also includes seniors Collin Elliott and Simon Mills. 

Junior Khmari Loveless should be the top shot put and discus competitor. 

Seniors C.J. Dean and Nate Dorinsky, both members of the baseball team, are expected to compete in sprints for the first time. 

Easley is a 2014 International graduate who won Division III state long jump championships as a sophomore and junior and went on to compete for East Tennessee State. 

Senior Kay Brown (shot put, discus), junior Brianna Richardson (sprints), sophomores Leila Mzibri (sprints, middle distance) and Iyanna Sanders (sprints) and freshman Alayiah Taylor (sprints) should be among the girls team’s top competitors. 

“We really just want to get through the season healthy,” Easley said. “The kids have been in their house for the past year. I’m new to coaching track and they’re getting a feel for me and vice versa, so I’m excited for this season and to see what they can do.” 

Cougars moving on 

with younger cast 

Eighth-year Beechcroft girls track coach Mike Moncrief has a simple answer to those who wonder what his team will look like without 2020 graduate Makiya Montgomery: “We’re going to be OK.” 

Over her first three prep seasons, Montgomery earned three state titles, two state runner-up finishes and two third-place finishes. She also was a three-time champion in the 100 and 200 at both the City and regional levels. 

Senior Amara Allen is the lone returnee from the 800 relay that featured Montgomery and placed third at the 2019 Division II state meet as the Cougars tied for fourth as a team. 

Seniors Natalia Delgado (middle distance) and Taaliyah Palmer (sprints, high jump) and juniors Alexis Brown (middle distance) and Sydney Stewart (sprints, middle distance) are expected to be other top competitors. 

The Cougars are competing in Division I this spring. 

“These girls have worked so hard,” Moncrief said. “We lift every day for an hour and 45 minutes and spend an hour and 45 minutes on the track. As a coach, I’ve been so blessed. I just can’t tell you how excited I am about this season.” 

Duane Gosa is in his seventh season as boys coach. His team should be led by senior and Cornell football recruit Muhammad-Ali Kobo (sprints). 

Sophomores Jesufewa Adediran (400) and Jayden Douglas (hurdles) also should be among the top competitors. 

“We’re just trying to get the numbers up,” Gosa said. “That’s one of the biggest things. Some of it is that they’ve been doing nothing for so long that they’re used to doing nothing and we’re trying to redirect that. The ones who are here are happy to be here. Our numbers are low, but we’re going to compete.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek