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18th Nike Outdoor Nationals
June 19-21, 2008 - North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro NC

New Bern NC: Long days equal success
Friday starts with success, ends in disappointment, but Saturday awaits

by DyeStatIL editor Tony Jones

Track Eastern Carolina, aka New Bern NC, have been here before and they have heard it before, but the expectations never change.  When they won state it was an all-day affair.  When they traveled north to Nike Indoor Nationals in March they endured the rigors of a weekend that called for fortitude.  The days are always long at national championship meets. 

So at the end of another long championship day Coach Dave Simpson showed absolutely no shame in saying, “We are tired...it’s been a long day.”  He was referring to getting to the track early: “we had a couple kids do the emerging elite races to start with, then we got a national championship [in the 1600m medley relay].” 

The medley is an event that Track EC excels in, because of the nice mix of runners they have- speed, strength, and endurance are definite keys here.  Fuqauwn Greene, Miles Sparks, Andrew Hendrix, and Anthony Hendrix-- they all have individual talent but seem to come together in relays.  The quartet teamed up to win the day’s first elite status track event, the 1600 sprint medley, in 3:23.76- a top 5 mark for the season.  Getting the victory wasn’t as easy as the final standings read. 

Track EC did have to come back on the strength of anchor Anthony Hendrix.  Hendrix got out well on his 1:51.9 800m leg, but was passed by Newburgh Elite’s (NY) Akinto Boone with 200m to go.  Not to worry because a championship was on the line and Hendrix kicked it home past Boone on the home stretch for the spoils of victory.  Later Hendrix admitted, “I gave him a little too much room on the inside, and he just went past me.  After that I just had to put it in another gear.”

The day did not end as well as it started, as the day’s fatigue set in on the 4x800.  Lead leg Andrew Hendrix got off well in 1:56.6 and put the team in relative good stead.  However, things appeared to go south from there, as the remaining legs produced less than expected results.  The final result: 15th overall in 7:53.04.  Afterwards, the dejected crew understandably exited the track, but later a comforting Simpson once again implied things will be okay.

“We knew it was going to be hard to come in here and be on top with the quality of teams here, but we will be fine.  We have a lot for to do on Saturday but our main goal is the 4x4.  We will run 3:10.”

That’s a very bold goal but anything is possible from one of the hardest working teams in the country.

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