(pictured above: Brian Sessoms Jr. runs to the finish line.)
If there were any questions about Carver’s dominance in boys’ sprinting, those doubts were erased last Saturday, as the Yellowjackets, sparked by Brian Sessoms Jr., put on a dazzling display at the Class 2-A State Track & Field Championships in Greensboro.
Sessoms pulled off a double, winning the 100 meters (10.85 seconds) and 200 meters (21.88 seconds). He also set the tone as the lead-off runner in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays. The 5 feet-10 junior finished the day with four gold medals.
Carver’s performances in the relays might be considered somewhat surprising. Entering the state championships, the Yellowjackets were not ranked among the top three seeds.
The foursome of Sessoms, Daryl Napper, Rodney Jones and Devon Pleasants won the 4×100 in 43.08 seconds to hold off second-place Forest Hills (43.12 seconds). In the 4×200, Sessoms, Lorenzo Graise, Jones and Pleasants posted another personal-best, clocking 1 minute and 27.79 seconds to win comfortably over Greene Central, which finished at 1:28.80.
“Entering the state championships, I felt like we were in good shape to have a good day with Brian and our relay teams,” said Coach Wesley Chapman. “I was so elated with how they delivered that I couldn’t contain myself. It’s hard to put into words. The baton exchanges went like clockwork. They did a superb job.”
Carver’s successes in the relays can be directly attributed to Chapman’s strategy. He inserted Rodney Jones as the third leg in the 4×100 and designated Sessoms the lead runner for both relay races. The strategy produced the desired results.
“Most of the other teams put their fastest guys on the third leg, but I felt it would be to our advantage for Brian to start it off,” Chapman said. “In both races, he gave us comfortable leads, which we were able to maintain. We didn’t want to play catch-up. With Brian leading off, they had to come after us and it worked out in our favor.”
For Sessoms, the state meet gave him a long-awaited opportunity to redeem himself. A year ago, he was disqualified for a false start in the 100 meters prelims, and he never got the chance to advance to the final. He fared better in the 200 with a second-place finish. This year, he didn’t give much thought to his past misfortune.
“I didn’t even bother to check the times of the other runners,” said Sessoms, a wide receiver who recently verbally committed to play football at N.C. State. “I felt like it would be tight. The key for me was coming out of the blocks smooth and fast. Once the race starts, what it comes down to is who wants it the most. It was a beautiful day for all of us. We put ourselves in position to finish what we started.”