The pressure is on for North Brunswick High School’s men’s track team. The reigning state champs now face their biggest and most epic challenge yet. If the team wins their upcoming outdoor state championship meet, they will do what no other track team in all of North Carolina has ever been able to do…win both indoor and outdoor state championships, four years in a row.
“That’s history,” said North Brunswick High men’s track team head coach, Garry Bishop. “I’ve told them they’ll be able to carry that on for the rest of their lives and talk about it with their kids.”
The first “hurdle” is complete. The team won the NC indoor championship back in February. Next up is the outdoor state championship meet scheduled for the weekend of May 19 in Greensboro at N.C.A&T College. A win there will secure the historic victory.
“If we do what we’re supposed to do and do it when we’re supposed to do it, we have a chance,” said Coach Bishop.
And chances are looking good. Most of Bishop’s senior runners have been on the team and winning all four years like senior, Jayhlen Washington, currently ranked number one in the country for his long jump (24’7.5”) and JC Smith who’s ranked number two in the state 2A level for his (22’10”). There’s Cameron Barnhill, the team’s top sprinter with the fastest 55-meter time in the state. Senior, Shaquan Graham kills it in the relays and 300 low hurdles, Jathan Deberry can do a six foot, four-inch-high jump, Derrick Blanks dominates triple jumps and sprints, Thomas Wallace destroys long distance runs and TJ Watson is one of North Carolina’s top ranked discus throwers.
Four of Bishop’s seniors broke a record at February’s indoor state championship 4 x 200 relay race.
“We won the 2A title with a new all-time State Record of 1:30.35,” said Coach Bishop.
So, what’s in the water at North Brunswick High School making everyone so fast? North Brunswick High Athletic director, Randy Fennell, says the men’s track team has won more state and regional championships than all of North Brunswick High’s other sports, combined.
“Someone needs to come and take a picture of all of our track state championship rings, it’s a lot,” said Fennell.
He credits the coaching.
“We have a tremendous coaching staff…Coach Bishop does a phenomenal job on the technical side of the sport, placing the right people in the right event,” Fennell said.
Bishop has been coaching track for close to 30 years and was North Brunswick’s football coach for more than 20. He’s armed with two powerhouse assistants, and one is his 81-year-old dad, Charlie Bishop or “Daddy B” as the team calls him, with about 60 years of track coaching under his belt.
“I’m so blessed to have my dad as an assistant coach and mentor,” said Bishop.
The other is North Brunswick’s current football coach, Larry Brock who coaches the shot put and discus throwers.
“Coach Brock has won an individual state championship while in high school. He knows what he’s doing,” Bishop said.
Bishop’s strategy? Heavy recruiting and zero cutting from the team.
“We recruit in large numbers and place them where they can be successful. There are 18 different events in track, so there’s something for everybody,” Bishop said.
Bishop discovered early on that there is a secret gold mine of recruits out on the football field.
“I wanted my football players out there staying in shape,” he said.
For example, offensive and defensive linemen make good shot put and discus throwers, he says. The more runners, jumpers, and throwers, the better chances of winning.
“We try to make sure we’ve got three quality guys in every event,” said Bishop.
One state championship was won by two points in the last event.
“We were losing going in, if one kid got one position lower in any event we wouldn’t have won,” said Bishop.
Many of Bishop’s seniors are already receiving scholarship offers. Next year’s seniors, Alex Justice and Isaiah Bell are expected to lead the team to a fifth-year championship win.