Tigerville – North Greenville men’s track and field topped off a historic season for the program with one final note in the record book, finishing as the 24th ranked team in Division II track & field, the first in the program’s nine-year history.
The Crusaders were routinely ranked within the regional rankings this season spurred by strong performances in several events, including the 100, 200, 400-meter dashes as well as the team relays. The 2019 version of the Crusader boasted five USTFCCCA All-Region performers including Tevin Richardson, JJ Richardson, Jackson Junkins, and Preston Pierce who all represented North Greenville at the NCAA Division II National Championships earlier in May. Also included in the mix was Devin Campbell who earned an All-Region nod for his performance in the 4x400 relay.
NGU eventually found its way into the National Spotlight, steadily climbing the rankings, reaching as high as #16 at the beginning of May. As expected, several veterans shined at the Conference Carolinas Championships as Tevin Richardson and JJ Sherman both brought home conference titles with a couple of top-3 finishes mixed in. Richardson and Sherman also teamed up with some new faces in the team events as the pair of Junkins and Pierce helped earn a first-place finish in the 4x100-meter relay while Junkins and Campbell mixed in for a second place finish in the 4x400.
In all, North Greenville racked up four individual All-Conference Team nods including Sherman, Richardson as well As Trey Steward in the 800 and Anatoley Gamza in the Pole Vault, representing the field athletes. Jackson Junkins and Preston Pierce were named All-Conference in the 4x100 relay along with Richardson and Sherman.
All roads for North Greenville led to the National Championships in Kingsville, Texas. Head coach Cam Stober and assistant David Pinkett loaded up the plane with five runners including Richardson, Sherman, Junkins, and Pierce as well as Eli Buckley who qualified after a pair of solid performances at the Mount Olive Last Chance Meet and the Montreat Last Chance Meet.
The showing in Texas was another solid one for the Crusaders. JJ Sherman took home a 12th place finish in the men’s 100-meter while Tevin Richardson qualified for the Finals and finished fifth in the 200-meter. Both Richardson and Sherman earned First Team All-American honors in their chosen events.
The biggest finish of the weekend came in the team event, the men’s 4x100. The four-man squad qualified on Thursday night for the Saturday evening finals after posting the fourth fastest time in the field, a very fast 40.71, setting the group up to win the school and program’s first national championship.
The foursome ended up finishing second in the nation in Division II track and field, crossing in a scorching 40.66 seconds, securing the best national finish in North Greenville Athletics history in any sport. The performance garnered five more All-American nods, including Richardson, Sherman, Preston Pierce, Jackson Junkins, and Eli Buckley.
North Greenville started the outdoor season ranked 71st in Division II, but steadily crept up the rankings. It took five weeks, but the Crusaders made their debut at 25, and spent six consecutive weeks I the top 25, earning the 16th in April, the highest ranking for any North Greenville Track & Field team.
“This has truly been a historic year for NGU Track and Field. First and foremost, I have to thank God for how He has blessed this program. We have a team full of incredible young men and women...all of which God brought to NGU. I’m so grateful that God has blessed us with such an outstanding group of student-athletes. Each of them has made the most of their personal talents and abilities, and each of them has contributed in some way. I also have to give credit to our coaching staff. We wouldn’t have had the success that we did without Coach Pickett, Coach Isakson, and Coach Mahaffey. Each of these men has invested so much time and effort into our student-athletes. Our program is blessed to have had each of them on staff this year.
Our accomplishments and success may be highlighted by our performance at the national meet, but we achieved much more than that. This season consisted of numerous personal bests, school records, conference champions, all-conference honorees, all-region honorees, all-Americans, and all-academic honorees. Each individual on our team accomplished something and contributed to our overall success.
As for our success at the national meet, it was such an amazing thing to see. Most people only see the accomplishments and accolades. But only a small group saw everything that went into that success. The daily grind. The commitment. The hard work. The rehab. The numerous trips. The long days and nights. The preparation. Everything that we accomplished this year was a result of the effort that was put forth by our student-athletes and coaches.
Our guys that competed at nationals were on the same stage as some of the best track athletes in the world. Former and future Olympians...some of which will be professional athletes. From a team perspective we were competing against powerhouse DII track and field programs...some of the best teams the NCAA has to offer. We have been on that stage many times before as we have had numerous student-athletes compete at the national meet. But to watch our 4x100 meter relay team finish runner-up was something truly special. It was a historic moment for our program. And then to finish the season ranked in the top 25 was another first in program history. It was an incredible end to an incredible season. I’m so proud of all of our student-athletes and coaches.
Though we are thrilled about what all we accomplished this season we are hungry for more. It is my desire that we stay humble, continue to work hard, and always be the best program that we can possibly be on and off the track.
Lastly, on behalf of the entire team, I would like to thank everyone that has supported our program over the years. We are truly grateful.”