RJR bolts to Boston


Photos provided by RJR Track and Field Instagram @rjr.tf

Welsh on her victory lap as she placed 1st in her heat.

Duncan Brown, Sports Editor

The RJ Reynolds High School Track & Field team has become a reckoning force over the past few years with star-studded athletes making leaps to place RJR on the map! Xavier Ratliff, Chandler Welsh, Walt Peterson, and Caroline Echols ventured up to Boston for the New Balance Nationals Indoor Event. 

The RJR athletes that qualified for Nationals did so through their indoor times. Their various accomplishments allowed for RJR to be scattered throughout the event. This ranged from Ratliff in the 60-meter hurdles, to Peterson in the 800 meter, along with Welsh competing in the 2 mile, and lastly, Echol qualifying for the 800 meter, but there was drama surrounding Echols time. 

“I qualified in the 800 meters and I got the qualification time at the state championships in February, where I raced 1000 meters,” Echols said. “In indoor track in NC, we race 1000 instead of the 800, so there was a conversion for the times, which is how I qualified.” 

Much of the time spent in Boston was within the confinements of the track, however, between the four separate athletes they found time to explore the city.

“The city was super cool but very cold,” Welsh said. “I went shopping and got some new clothes which were fun and I saw Fenway Park which is where the Boston Red Sox play.” 

The team takes on the town enjoying the free time in Boston.

This event is widely tallied as one of the premier running events that take place in the country. Track & Field athletes from every corner of the nation fought vigorously for that top-placement finish. Despite all of the competition, everyone there was rooting for one another. 

“I got to talk with a bunch of girls from all over the nation before the race in the ready area,” Echols said. “Everyone is always so nervous in the ready area, so it was so nice to have girls to talk with to help calm my nerves. It was also super fun to get to talk with fellow runners from NC and cheer each other on.” 

Although the competition was star-studded with some of the most talented track & field athletes across the country, our very own Demons found national success. Especially Welsh, who, while only a junior, secured national recognition.

“Out of the whole meet, I was 22nd for the 2 mile,” Welsh said. “I think that is good but I definitely want to get better.” 

Going into these races, each athlete was plotting and scheming how they would outsmart and outperform the competition. Each RJR athlete game-planned precisely how they were going to find their success on the track, while also overcoming the adversity that the race threw at them.

“My game plan for the race was to get out quickly to secure good positioning and try to remain in the top three until 200 meters to go and try to kick in the last 200 and see what happened,” Peterson said. “On the 200-meter kick, I came around the last curve too close to the rail on the inside of lane one and stepped on the rail and off the track, but fortunately, I was not disqualified and remained on my feet.”

Overall, the Demons took on Boston head-on with a fantastic showing and made a name for themselves. They now shift their focus to the spring outdoor season and look to find themselves back on the national stage once again.