Private school track standouts dash away with state championships

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

A trio of athletes from Fayetteville private schools brought home state championships from last weekend’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association track meets.

The big winner was Fayetteville Academy’s Zoe Dorsey, a seventh-grader, who captured victories in the 400- and 200-meter dashes.

Other winners included her fellow Academy runner, Kalil Dennison, who won the 100-meter dash.

The third athlete, from Fayetteville Christian, was Tomas Stevens, who took the boys’ triple jump.

Dorsey and Dennison competed in the NCISAA Division III state meet, the division for the NCISAA’s smallest schools, at Gaston Christian School. Stevens was at Forsyth Country Day for the Division II meet for mid-sized schools. 

While this was Dorsey’s first year on the Academy track team, she’s no stranger to the sport, having competed with a Fayetteville area club track program for the last seven years.

“I’ve been more of a sprinter my entire track career,’’ she said. She had been running the 800 meter but dropped down to the 200 and 400 to take advantage of her speed.

Her motivation during this difficult pandemic year was all the time she spent practicing with her mother during the winter months. “I knew how hard I worked,’’ she said. “I wanted it all to pay off. That really encouraged me.’’

She started in the fourth lane in both races, something she said she enjoys because she likes to chase her opponents down on the track. “Once I had passed them, I used what I had left to keep pushing,’’ she said.

She won the 200 with a time of 24.63 and the 400 with a 55.50.

She wants to continue running once she gets to college and is considering attending a school in either Texas or Florida.

Dennison said he’s been running for three years but began to take it more seriously the last two years. “All I need to do is not worry about anyone else,’’ he said, “just win my own race.’’

When he got into the blocks for the 100, Dennison said he felt prepared for the moment. “Anything can happen when you’re running against other people,’’ he said. “I feel this is a great start for my future. I think I can do very well in the 100.’’

His winning time was 11.41. He also took third in the 200 meters with a 23.57.

Unlike Dennison or Dorsey, Stevens is a newcomer his event, the triple jump, only taking it up a few months ago. He started running track for fun, initially to participate on relay teams. He’s tried the 4×100 and 4×200, along with the 100 and the long jump.

He gave the triple jump a shot because he enjoys the jumping part more than the running due to his background as a basketball player where he plays point guard.

His coach, Frank Bailey, was a jumper and ran track at North Carolina State. He helped Stevens learn the fundamentals.

He was still somewhat surprised at the win. “I didn’t think I was going to do that good,’’ he said of his winning lead of 42 feet, one inch.

He plans to attend Wingate where he wants to walk-on in basketball. He hasn’t decided if he’ll also pursue more track at the college level.