The indoor track season is heating up for Rocky River, as it begins to near the final stretch of what has been an exciting campaign. Rocky River has won a state championship in a club sport, but it has never won one in a varsity team sport. This could be the year.
Its girls’ indoor track & field team is a true state title contender. Rocky River coach Antoine Sidberry was curious to see how well his girls stacked up against the best in North Carolina, so he ran a virtual meet. They were two points from second place and about 20 points from the top spot. Southeast Raleigh, High Point Central and Reagan will be their greatest challenges at the state level.
“It’s going to take a perfect day (to win states),” Sidberry said. “If we do everything we’re supposed to do we can do it, but we can’t have any hiccups.”
Mariah Atwater, D’amani Bryant, Aurellya Harris, Kenya Livingston and Lydajah McLeod are the core nucleus for the girls. Sidberry said Atwater is the most seasoned. Livingston, a state champion in the high jump, gives the Ravens a proven winner at the highest level.
Bryant, who transferred from East Meck a year ago, said Rocky River has provided a welcoming environment for her. She said her teammates accepted her. That culture enhances team chemistry and facilitates encouragement throughout the team.
Livingston, who also is No. 2 in the state in the triple jump, might do the long jump, too, but Sidberry has yet to make a decision. He’s trying to weigh the pros and cons, but it would create a lot of back and forth for Livingston. He doesn’t want her to get worn out.
A couple of the girls’ strongest events are the 4×800-meter relay and the 4×200-meter relay, which they rank No. 1 and No. 2 in the state respectively.
As for the boys, they are led by Christopher Alexander, who has emerged as one of the top triple jumpers in the state as a sophomore. This is Alexander’s first year doing the triple jump, which has made his success even more impressive. Sidberry said Alexander could win the state championship if he improves his technique.
James Maye, another sophomore, gives the Ravens a dynamic sprinter in the 55-meter race. He has qualified for the state championship meet in the event. Maye said the greatest lessons he has learned is how to lead, how to take responsibility and put the team first.
Marqui Lowery and Dmarquile Breazeale bring added talent to the roster, while Ty-lisha Kimble is another quality sprinter.
The boys are in a similar place to where the girls were a few years ago, which means the expectation for the guys is to win the Southwestern 4A Conference championship. Butler will be its greatest obstacle, and the Bulldogs will be well prepared by coach Deborah Deeg.
“It has really taken us by surprise,” Sidberry said. “We knew we were going to be competitive, especially on the girls’ side. The girls are where we knew they could be. We knew coming in this year we’d be one of the top three teams in the state.”
He added the girls want to win conference again, but the ultimate goal is for the them to win states.
The outdoor season will be more competitive, because more kids compete in it than the indoor season.