Eagles McCoy, Calvin star in Leroy Walker/Lee Calhoun meet
At a track meet without a lot on the line, N.C. Central high jumper Willie Calvin sure made it interesting.
NCCU’s track-and-field team hosted its only home meet of the season on Saturday, bringing in both college and high school squads to compete in the LeRoy T. Walker/Lee Calhoun Invitational.
Calvin, a senior trying to regain his bounce after a hamstring injury during the indoor track season, was aiming to surpass the meet record in the high jump of 6-10 during his final showing at the event.
In February 2012, Calvin made a name for himself as the indoor high-jump champion in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
This past December, Calvin hopped 7-feet, 0.64 inches on his third and final attempt to win the high jump during the Christopher Newport University Holiday Open in Newport News, Va.
The bar was set at 6-8¾ at Saturday’s LTW Invitational, and Calvin knocked it off twice.
On Calvin’s third and final attempt, he crossed himself and pointed heavenward like he’d done before, but this time he snatched off his wristwatch and tossed it to the ground before taking off running and finally clearing the bar.
Calvin tried for a record-breaking 6-10¾ but didn’t get up high enough.
“I’m a little rusty. It’s my first time jumping since the indoor season,” Calvin said. “My leg is still weak from when I tore my hamstring. A little bit more training and stuff and I should be ready, like one or two more weeks.”
“He’s strong, man,” NCCU coach Michael Lawson said. “He’s ready to get back out.”
Little specks of sleet fell from the sky earlier during the meet, but it didn’t last long and caused no harm other that perhaps making the spring day seem even colder.
This was the Eagles’ third outdoor meet of the season, and Lawson said he wasn’t expecting his athletes to turn in dynamite performances in light of the cool weather creating an environment ripe for tight muscles and injuries. With that in mind, NCCU’s coaches held some athletes out of some events.
NCCU senior sprinter Ashley McCoy burst out of her blocks and won the 100-meter dash in 11.94 seconds. It was a hot performance, but she was cold.
“I feel old,” McCoy said after the race. “My joints are hurting. My back is tight.”
That was the third straight time that McCoy won the 100 at the LTW invitational. Her closest competitor on Saturday crossed the line in 12.60, yet McCoy said that she was right jittery before the race.
“I don’t ever go in a race like, ‘I’m going to do this, or I’m going to do that,’” McCoy said. “I think it’s good for me to be nervous. I think that’ll push me through even harder.
“I think nerves are a good thing. If I wasn’t nervous going into my race then there is a problem.”
NCCU assistant head coach Tavius Walker said there never has been a question about McCoy’s talent, but he’s had to work on getting her confidence where it needs to be.
As strong as McCoy is in the 100, Walker said he’s got to get her primed for the 200 in order to take advantage of her powerful body.
Hampton’s Devyn Thompson finished the 1,500 in 4:49.69. She’s the main competition in the MEAC for NCCU’s Amber Brooks, who came in second at 4:55.60.
“Her quarter split was a little slow,” Lawson said about Brooks. “In practice, we’ve got to keep pushing the end part of our races.”
“I’m working on my ending to kick my last 200, which is my main part I had trouble in from when I started running,” Brooks said. “Now I’m just mainly focusing on my last 200 to be able to finish strong.”
Nationally, Brooks ranks in the top 10, Lawson said.
On Saturday in Durham, Brooks ranked among the coldest.
“I’m from Florida. I need the heat. That’s where I get my shine,” Brooks said. “My whole body goes in shock. My body feels frozen.”
Hampton was the only MEAC school besides NCCU at the meet, which would have been a homecoming for former Riverside High School sprinter Brien Berry, but he has transferred to another school.
No area high schools took part.
While the stakes at the meet weren’t especially high, the event itself was a big one, honoring NCCU track icons LeRoy Walker and Lee Calhoun.
The college portion of the track meet is named after Walker, who put NCCU’s track team on the international map with the eight Olympic medalists he produced. One of them was Calhoun, a 110-meter hurdler who returned from Melbourne, Australia in 1956 as NCCU’s first Olympic gold medalist. Four years later, Calhoun became the first back-to-back winner of that event, earning a second gold medal in the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Italy.
Walker became the first black head coach of a USA Olympic track-and-field team during the 1976 Montreal Games, and he was the first black president of the U.S. Olympic Committee during the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The high school portion of the meet is named after Calhoun, who was inducted into the USA Track & Field Hall of Fame in 1974. Walker was enshrined in 1983.
LeRoy T. Walker/Lee Calhoun Invitational Track Meet Results (distances in meters)
400 hurdles — Delesha Conquest (N.C. Central) 1:05.18. 1500 — Devyn Thompson (Hampton) 4:49.69. 100 hurdles —Breana Norman (Hampton) 14.28. 100 — Ashley McCoy (NCCU) 11.94. 400 — La’Creesha Gore (NCCU) 56.42. 4x100 relay — Hampton (Tia Cooper, Tyra Cooper, Norman, Le’Quisha Parker) 47.45. 800 — Cydney Robinson (Hampton) 2:15.51. 200 — Diandra Gilbert (Unattached) 24.75. 4x400 relay — Hampton (Shantae Boney, Emmy Fraenk, Maleka Holland, Parker) 3:50.79. Shot put — Morgan Moore (Shaw) 32-4.25. Long jump — Tiera Denmark (Hampton) 18-3.75). High jump — Alexis Sherrill (NCCU) 5-3. Discus — Moore (Shaw) 102-6. Triple jump — Denmark (Hampton) 36-10.5.
400 hurdles — Kevin Vincent (N.C. Central) 57.61. 1500 — Xavier Fraction (Hampton) 4:10.58. 110 hurdles — Trey Holloway (Hampton) 14.56. 100 — Phillip Barren (NCCU) 10.95. 400 — Mohamed Labor-Koroma (Hampton) 49.78. 4x100 relay — Shaw (Jamar Bateman, Jeffery Hatcher, Raheem Richardson, Shaquille Strickland) 44.75. 800 — Larry Ramirez (Hampton) 1:55.73. 200 — Chidi Okezie (Hampton) 21.65. 4x400 relay — Hampton (Je’von Hutchison, Edose Ibadin, Labor-Koroma, Okezie) 3:17.62. Shot put — Sulaiman Fared (Hampton) 50-2.75. Long jump — Christian Kinney (Hampton) 19-11.5. High jump — Willie Calvin (NCCU) 6-8.75. Discus — James Reese (NCCU) 142-6. Triple jump — Lincoln Carry (Shooting Stars) 48-6.