Jack Britt runner’s improvement pays off in state title

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

When JaMeesia Ford went out for track at Jack Britt High School last year, she and her teammates only competed in two meets before the season was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But just that brief glimpse was enough for Britt track coach Vivian Reed to forecast great things for her young 400-meter specialist.

“I knew she had the potential for going further than the conference at the beginning of this season,’’ Reed said. That turned out to be an understatement as Ford went all the way to the top of the medal platform at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4-A track meet, winning the 400 meters with a time of 54.83.

Fortunately for Ford, after the high school season ended in 2020, she was able to get some competition during the summer running with the Fayetteville Flyers.

“She’s improved a lot from what I saw from last year to this year,’’ Reed said. “She’s very committed in the way she trains. She’s out there practicing on her own. She’s focused on what she wants to do, and she goes for it.’’

Ford said she’s been involved in track and field since about the age of 10. Her family has a long history in the sport, and she developed a personal interest watching United States 400-meter standout Allyson Felix on television. 

Her love for the sport has taken her to track competitions in states as far away as California, Kansas and Florida.

Ford said she enjoyed the atmosphere at this year’s NCHSAA 4-A meet at North Carolina A&T. She got off to a fast start in her 400-meter race and finished nearly a full two seconds ahead of the second-place runner.

“Once I got out fast, they were racing to catch me,’’ Ford said. “I really pushed, and I didn’t look back.’’

She has a busy summer planned ahead of her junior year, as she’ll be competing in USA Track and Field events with the Fayetteville Flyers. She wants to continue focusing on her two preferred events, the 400 and the 200.

She’ll be making return trips to North Carolina A&T and hopes to be at the national meet at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville in late July and early August.

College may be a way off, but she’s already thinking about where she’d like to go. Schools at the top of her list include LSU, Kentucky and South Carolina.

• Members of the Westover High School community were in mourning this week at the unexpected death of Coach Arthur Ward.

Ward died of unknown causes earlier this week. He was the boys’ soccer coach at the school but also served as assistant basketball coach for the Wolverine boys’ team.

At the time this was written, funeral details were incomplete.

• A number of Cumberland County athletes were chosen to the N.C. Fastpitch All-State softball teams

In 3-A, Kylie Aldridge of Gray’s Creek was named the 3-A East Player of the Year.

The following were chosen to the team:

Cape Fear – Nicole Gilroy, Noni MacFadden.

Gray’s Creek – Madi Bagley, Morgan Brady, Courtney Cygan, Jaden Pone, Abby Riddle.

The following made the 4-A team:

Jack Britt – Carlie Myrtle.

• The following Cumberland County players were named to the NCISAA All-State softball team:

2-A

Freedom Christian – Rylan Miller, Victoria Bryant.

3-A

Fayetteville Christian – Ayania Williams. 

• Here is the Patriot Athletic Conference tennis team selected by the league’s head coaches.

Player of the year: Annie Lieberman, Terry Sanford.

Coach of the year: Chris Lucas, Cape Fear.

Singles

Overhills – Jenascias Washington.

Gray’s Creek – Kaylee Ledford, Courtney Cygan.

Pine Forest – Natalie Zumwalt.

Cape Fear – Anna Piland, Brooke Bieniek, Carolina Averrite, Dajia Rucker.

Terry Sanford – Mary Anna Stiles, Sophie Blankenship, Carolina Beasley.

Doubles

Cape Fear – Anna Piland-Brook Bieniek; Dajia Rucker-Carolina Averitte.

Terry Sanford – Annie Lieberman-Mary Anna Stiles; Caroline Beasley-Sophie Blankenship.

Gray’s Creek – Kaylee Ledford-Sophie Blankenship.

• Congratulations to E.E. Smith High School’s Jordan Everett, who has been added to the East roster for this month’s East-West All-Star girls basketball game in Greensboro.

Everett, a 6-0 post player for the Golden Bulls, averaged 11.6 points and 10.7 rebounds.

She helped Smith to a 9-2 record and a second-place finish in the Patriot Athletic Conference standings in this year’s pandemic-shortened season.

PHOTO OF THE WEEK




It has been eight years since the tragic death of Cape Fear High School multi-sport athlete Cole Humphrey in an automobile accident. But the work of the Cole Humphrey Memorial Endowment through the Cumberland Community Foundation continues to both keep his memory alive while supporting the athletes and sports programs at Cape Fear. Earlier this month, members of the Cape Fear athletic staff accepted a donation of $5,000 from the endowment that will be shared by the school’s football and baseball programs. Appearing at the check passing ceremony were members of the Cape Fear staff along with Humphrey’s relatives. From left to right are Cape Fear athletic director Reggie Fields, baseball coach Jarrod Britt, Chip Humphrey, McRae Humphrey, Larry Ellis, Ann Ellis and football coach Jake Thomas. In the years since the endowment was created in 2014, it has contributed a total of $20,360 in gifts.