Rocky Mount Prep's Booth secures program's first state track title

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Rocky Mount Prep junior Terence Booth Jr., middle, poses for a picture with father Terence Booth Sr., and mother Darlene Richardson on Saturday at the NCHSAA 1-A state track meet. Booth Jr. won the 110-meter hurdles title.


Sports Writer

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Terence Booth Jr. wanted a shirt from the state track meet.

Not just any shirt, but the pink one. The one that wasn’t for sale.

“I wanted the shirt that money can’t buy,” the Rocky Mount Prep junior said. “You can’t buy it, you have to win it. They only give it to you if you win a championship at the state meet.”

Booth got his shirt, and became the first Rocky Mount Prep athlete to win a state track championship when he won the 110-meter hurdles on Saturday during the Class 1-A state meet at N.C. A&T’s Aggie Stadium in Greensboro.

Before the title, the junior already had a decorated track career locally. He won conference and regional titles, but first-place finish on the state’s biggest stage proved elusive during his freshman and sophomore years.

“I was just looking at all the accolades that I have, and a state championship was the one I didn’t have,” Booth said. “I have three conference championships, was named All-Region three times, and I’ve even got the best time in our school’s history.

“And I was like, “There’s still this one thing I haven’t done yet. And I told myself that when I went back this time I will get it.”

Booth finished the race in 15.22, and his fast start was enough to hold off Swain County senior Trey Bowman who finished in 15.49. Booth was the pace-setter all the way after securing the top seed entering the finals by posting the fastest preliminary time of 15.18.

“Last year I was chasing the field,” he said. “This year, the field was chasing me.”

This was Booth’s second time competing at the state meet, and he said he felt more comfortable this time around. He qualified for his first state meet last year as a sophomore and finished 14th in the 300 hurdles. In the 110s, he didn’t make it out of the prelims.

But a summer of intense, focused work allowed Booth to tap into more. More strength, more speed, and more confidence.

“He’s very coachable and it’s hard to find a kid that’s coachable like that,” Jaguars track coach Jolly Manning said. “He’s able to do things a lot of other people can’t, and he still improves because he’s a willing learner. He’s like a sponge, man. He takes in everything I say, he soaks it in, then practices on it.”

For Booth and his teammates, the word practice carried many different meanings. RMP doesn’t have a track to practice on at the school, a limitation that required Manning to be creative.

The coach held a variety of different workouts using whatever equipment was available on a given day. Sometimes practice meant running around the school grounds, while other times a practice consisted of a road run, resistence band work, or a weight lifting session.

By the end of the track season, the Jaguars were able squeeze in practice time at North Edgecombe’s track two or three times per week.

And it was during those sessions that Booth got to train with the proper footwear — spikes.

“I would practice a lot at school with no track, and I would come home and practice with my dad,” Booth said. “I’d run on gravel because it makes you dig more, and when we got to go to North Edgecombe when they would let us use their track, I got a feel for it running with spikes.”

Booth’s father, Terence Booth Sr., was a former hurdler and was involved in the training at home. There, they worked on the pure speed portion of the event, before adding the proper technique to stay balanced while soaring through the air.

“My father used to run the 110 hurdles and was super fast,” Booth said. “First we worked on speed because it’s basically a 110-meter spring with some jumping. So lots of leg strengthening. 

“Then, the most difficult thing was balance. Once you’re jumping over the hurdles, any wrong steps or movements will throw you off when you’re going over. You could stumble into an opponent’s lane if you step wrong.”

Manning, a natural athlete himself as a former basketball player, was able to continue that education during after-school practices. Manning spared no time in coaching Booth, who didn’t miss a practice the entire year.

“Terence worked his butt off this summer. He did some summer workouts, stayed in the weight room, and did the necessary things he needed to do,” Manning said. “He practices hard every single day so he was able to really work on his skills. It was important he never missed a practice to be able to put that all together.”