Prior to the start of the outdoor track season, sprinter Brian Sessoms Jr. was an unknown commodity. But with two of the biggest meets of the season still remaining on the schedule, the Carver sophomore has positioned himself to gain a lot more notoriety.
This spring, Sessoms has quietly proven himself as one of the state’s elites in the 100 and 200-meter dashes. Sessoms hopes to add to his collection of trophies and medals at the Mideast 2-A track-and-field regional meet on Saturday (May 11) in Wendell. The top four regional finishers qualify for the Class 2-A state outdoor track championships at N.C. A&T on May 18.
“I really had no idea how fast I could run,” said Sessoms, who played running back, wide receiver and cornerback for the Yellowjackets last fall. “The only reason I even came out for track was to help increase my speed for football.”
The Class 2-A state rankings compiled by ncmilesplit.com validate Sessoms’s status as a premier sprinter. He’s No. 2 in the 200 (21.64 seconds) and No. 3 in the 100 (10.69 seconds). The time difference between the state’s three-fastest runners in the 100 is .05 seconds.
“Brian is very competitive,” said Coach Wesley Chapman. “His strength is a major asset, plus he listens, pays attention to detail and constantly works on technique. That’s why he continues to get better every week. Even though he has three more years left in high school, I’m already getting calls from college coaches about him.”
Sessoms staged a coming-out party of sorts at last month’s Scott Brent Invitational, known unofficially as the Forsyth County meet. Highly-regarded Jakari King-Penn of Reagan was expected to win the 100 and 200 handily. Sessoms, however, created a buzz during the preliminary rounds by posting the fastest times in both events.
In the 100 final, both runners were locked in a dead heat over the final 40 meters, but Sessoms leaned at the finish line to win in 10.69 seconds. King-Penn was an eyelash behind as the runner-up in 10.70.
“After the qualifying rounds, that’s when I got it in my head that I could beat him,” said Sessoms, who stands 5-feet-8 and weighs 175 pounds. “Winning gave me even more motivation to keep pushing myself for the rest of the season.”
It would’ve been intriguing to see what might have transpired in the 200 at the Brent. Sessoms had the best time (22.07 seconds) in the prelims, but was pulled from the final because of shin splits. King-Penn won comfortably in 22.14.
Sessoms has excelled in spite of his season-long battle with shin splints. He still has a screw in his right ankle that was used to help repair a fracture from three years ago. There are times when the pain from the shin splints prevents Sessoms from taking on a full slate of track events for Carver (100, 200, plus the 4×100 and 4×200 relay).
“After a race, Brian’s shins get iced down and we do a lot of stretching,” said Chapman. “Aside from that, the big emphasis is for him to stay off his feet as much as possible. That way, the pain is reduced considerably and he’s able to put forth his best effort when it’s time to race.”
It seems that speed is a family trait for Sessoms, whose father, Brian Sr., played running back and free safety for Winston-Salem State in the early-1990s. Brian’s grandfather, James Blackburn, was known as one of the city’s top sprinters during his time at Carver in the early 1960s.