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Terriers relay message: "We want a state title'

The foreheads, not the legs, help explain why Hillsborough's 4x100-meter relay team is so fast.

It is the foreheads, you see, that furrow in a way that says they aren't kidding.

"We want to win the state title," senior Maurice Martin said, almost growling at Monday's practice.

The others standing next to Martin, sophomores Shomari Mckenzie and Willie Humphrey, didn't say too much, except Mckenzie offered this little tidbit regarding competition: "Some people start talking trash to us before the race and that just makes us want to get that baton and show everybody what we're all about."

"By the time I get the baton," Humphrey said, his lips curling into a grin. "It's all over."

They really aren't kidding: Hillsborough's 4x100 relay team is undefeated (usually winning by more than 15 meters), has set the Ed Wells Invitational meet record (41.99 seconds) and run a blistering 41.79 seconds at the Griffin/Manuel Relays.

"And we haven't even been at full strength," Hillsborough coach David Watson said. "We're still looking for a dependable leadoff man. We've been trying different guys because some have been injured or unavailable for various reasons.

"To be honest with you, I don't know what this team is capable of. But there is a lot of potential there for a very fast time."

James Mallard, who ran the world's second fastest 200 (19.8 seconds) in 1980, has been working with Hillsborough's sprinters, and he believes the Terriers 4x100 team can break 41 seconds.

"As the competition gets better," Mallard said, "I think this team is going to rise to the occasion and just get faster. This team wants to work hard. They are very determined."

Hence their furrowed brows.

"We just need for them to keep practicing handoffs and working together," Mallard said. "They need to kind of live together on the track and get comfortable with each other's handoffs and speed through the transitions. If they keep doing that I think they could win the state title."

And despite all this hoopla, there is a question mark. Who will leadoff?

Mckenzie presently runs the second leg, Martin the third and Humphrey the anchor.

But the leadoff leg has been a revolving door of possibilities, featuring seniors Chandler Glover, Aleous Chambers, Brayon Jones and Jaisen Randolph.

"All those guys are just about equally fast, but some of them aren't in real good shape, or they have had nagging injuries like Jones, who says he's been feeling some soreness in one of his legs," Watson said. "I guess we'll see how it all pans out and hopefully the four best will be there in the end."

Today's Charles Johnson Invitational at King, which begins at 10 a.m., should offer a better idea of where Hillsborough's leadoff situation stands.

Yet no matter who carries the baton first, one thing is almost certain: Hillsborough will probably win the 4x100 and the meet.

The Terriers, basically on the strength of its sprinters, have won its last two major meets, Griffin/Manuel and Ed Wells.

"I know we are blessed with a lot of fast guys," Watson said. "I just hope we can get the most out of them because they could really do something special if they put it all together."