US news
2003 indoor

5th Nike Indoor Championships

March 15-16, 2003 at Prince George's Sportsplex, Landover MD

Press Release
Unsung Winston-Salem Track Athletes
Produce 4 USA Prep-Leading Marks

by Pete Cava


LANDOVER, Md., February 14, 2003 --- Born on a chilly, rain-swept night in New York City in 1868, American indoor track and field has always flourished in the country's northeastern corridor.

They also practice indoor track from the Midwest to the northern West Coast, until the frost is off the ovals.

In warm-weather states, however, track athletes usually shrug at the concept. In sunny California, where track is always an outdoor sport, athletes compete indoors mostly because it's trendy. Southerners take part just to be polite.

But if athletes from above the Mason-Dixon Line rule indoor track, what accounts for the recent performance of the team from North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem, N.C.?

Runners from North Forsyth (pronounced for-SYTH) turned in three U.S. prep-leading performances at the Feb. 1 Virginia Tech High School Indoor Meet in Blacksburg, Va.

Bobby Mack won the 1600 in 4:12.23. Clay Ragan finished first in the 500 meter event with a time of 1:05.28. Then Ragan and Mack, both seniors, teamed with Bobby's brother Eric, a junior, and sophomore Jorden Olsen to win the 4x800 relay in 7:49.50.

Three wins, three U.S. high school leaders. In one day. From one school. And a Southern school, at that.

"It was a surprise to most people," claims National Scholastic Sports Foundation director Jim Spier, who says the North Forsyth contingent will compete at the Nike Indoor Championships in Landover, March 15-16.

"Their performance," says Spier, "was really surprising to those whose focus of indoor track is in the Northeast." Spier alsopoints out that North Forsyth usually plays second fiddle in Winston-Salem to crosstown rival Mt.

Even more impressive, North Forsyth runners have had a hard time training this season. "It's been rainy and cold here, with snow," says North Forsyth coach Scott Brent, whose team has no indoor facility and has to practice outdoors. "We've hadto run what we call polar bear meets. We didn't feel like we were where we want to be. I was rather surprised by the
performances. None of them had much indoor training."

But the Mack brothers and Olsen were still in shape from cross country and Ragan is coming off soccer season.

Brent also credits Virginia Tech's fast track and the meet's stiff competition. "It was just a good day," says Brent. "It's a great track, and it was an event where we had a lot of competition, the best competition of the year."

Bobby Mack held off Alex Tatu of Thomas Dale High School (Chester, Va.) in the 1600. Mack's 4:12.23 and Tatu's 4:14.17 were both under the five-year-old meet record of 4:14.42.

Clay Ragan shaded Derrick Brinkley of Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) by 37-hundredths of a second, 1:05.28 to 1:05.65.

Runnerup to North Forsyth's 7:49.50 in the 4x800 relay was Midlothian, Va., with a time of 7:53.77. "The relay team had to come from behind to win," says Brent, who won the 1962 Atlantic Coast Conference indoor 880-yard title for North Carolina. "Clay ran the third leg, and he gave it to Bobby with about a 15-yard lead. They couldn't close on Bobby."

Ironically, North Forsyth's stunning performance has Brent eating crow. "About six or seven years ago I was saying track in general had really gone downhill," he admits. "But it's turned around dramatically. Now we have runners coming out of the woodwork, especially in our area"

Brent says North Forsyth's performance at the Virginia Tech meet was the greatest moment of his 35-year coaching career. "It was by far," he says, "my most rewarding day as a coach."



Nike Indoor Championships


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