Williford, Mitchell qualify for state track meet

Published 9:15 am Friday, May 15, 2015

Avery Williford of Davie’s boys track & field team extended his exciting joy ride in the Midwest Regional at Dudley on May 2.

The top-four finishers earned berths to the state championships, and the junior met the standard in both hurdles events.

Senior George Mitchell also qualified for the state.

“I felt extremely well,” Williford said. “Going in, not knowing all the times and everything, I wasn’t expecting to be that high of a performer. In all honesty, I don’t think too much of myself. I’ve improved so much that I was one of the top competitors there. It was a really good day for me.”

A year ago, Williford was a pushover against regional competition. A year later, Williford rolled into the regional as the Central Piedmont Conference champion in the 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles. At Dudley, he distinguished himself by becoming the first War Eagle in four years to qualify for the state in two individual events. In 2011 Rickey Bell finished second in the shot put and fourth in the discus.

“I only raced in the 110 prelims (in the 2014 regional),” he said. “I wasn’t in the top eight last year, so I had my one heat. I had a good time for me, but not good enough to go on. But this year I’m basically a full second faster and that makes a big difference.”

In the 110-meter hurdles, where Williford was seeded fifth, he finished fourth out of 16 with a new personal record, 15.24 seconds. His winning time in the CPC was 15.32.

“It made me continue to be confident and still relaxed about everything (heading into the 300 hurdles),” Williford said. “I wasn’t stressed out and thinking I had to make it or (the day would be a failure). It gave me confidence and that’s the biggest thing.”

Williford was seeded third in the 300 hurdles, and he lived up to it by taking third in a personal-record 40.66 seconds. When he won the CPC, he went 40.95 seconds.

“I was definitely running good and I was very happy about that,” he said. “After the regional meet, me and my family drove to NC A&T’s stadium (where the state meet was held) and there was actually a college meet going on,” he said. “We were able to walk in, see the track and the whole atmosphere and everything. So it won’t be that big of a surprise. I was just amazed at how beautiful the place was.”

Mitchell qualified for the state by claiming fourth in the triple jump at 42 feet, 10 inches. He was seeded fourth.

It was a thrill to advance because Mitchell’s shot in 2014 was denied by teammate Boyce Seals’ fourth-place performance of 43-1.25.

“It felt great,” Mitchell said. “It was a big weight lifted off my shoulders. Because last year I lost to Boyce by an inch and I finally won (a spot to the state).”

Mitchell was runner-up in the CPC at 42-5.

“Coaches, dedication and never missing practice,” Mitchell said when asked about the key to his success. “Just a lot of hard work this season and great coaching by Mrs. (Becky) Miller and Mrs. (Melissa) Boswell.”

Sophomore Savannah Everett of Davie’s girls was fifth in the high jump with a personal-record 5-2. She was second in the CPC at 5-0.

Junior Nick Simmons of Davie’s boys was eighth in the 1600 meters at 4:40.36.