Beaufort High's boys 4x400 relay among champs returning home from SC track and field finals

sfastenau@beaufortgazette.comMay 18, 2014 

Beaufort High's Daquan Cason, right, hands to Nathan Parker to start the third leg of the Eagles' 4x400 relay at Saturday's state championship meet at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.

COLUMBIA -- Daquan Cason cried the night before the biggest race of his life.

The pain in his lower back had intensified. The strained muscle had been a problem all season, but the Beaufort High School runner had tried his best to ignore it after missing the Taco Bell Invitational in April.

He wasn't going to miss the Eagles' attempt at a second consecutive state title in the Class 4-A 4x400-meter relay. Cason ran the second leg Saturday at Spring Valley High School, and Beaufort High held off Northwestern to take gold another year.

The Eagles ran in 3 minutes, 21.99 seconds to edge the Trojans, who finished in 3:22.22.

"I just pushed it for these boys," Cason said.

Cason and the Beaufort High boys would finished 10th in the Class 4-A boys standings.

The Battery Creek girls placed second in Class 2-A to champion Bishop England after some surprising finishes.

Dolphins coach Tyrone Pierce pegged his team about fourth looking at the heat sheets. But Dasji'a Cannon finished better than expected in the sprints, and the Dolphins took second and third in the triple jump to pile up points.

"I'm still surprised," Pierce said. "We had a couple setbacks in region and Lower State. I'm very pleased with the outcome."

Hilton Head Island's boys finished fourth in Class 3-A behind the depth of their distance runners and a victory Friday in the 4x800 relay.

For the girls, Hilton Head High finished sixth in Class 3-A. In Class 1-A, the Whale Branch girls and boys each finished fourth.

The Beaufort High girls finished seventh in Class 4-A, highlighted by Jackie Barnes' victory in the pole vault.

Barnes cleared 12 feet, 6 inches, half a foot clear of Wando's Sarah Lee. Barnes attempted to clear 12-8 1/2 to break the state record of 12-7 but couldn't top the mark in three attempts.

The sophomore said there was still time to get the record. She stressed Friday about her first state title but had calmed by Saturday morning.

"I just went in there with the mentality that I already had it so I wouldn't stress myself out," Barnes said. "When I got up there, everything just came together."

Eagles sophomore Bre-Anna Heyward White led the Beaufort High girls by qualifying in four events. Her best individual finish Saturday was fifth in the 400 meters. She was also part of the Eagles' fourth-place 4x400 relay.

The boys had better luck.

Michael Dickson ran the anchor leg for Beaufort High, again facing down Northwestern's Trey Stanley.

Dickson had beaten Stanley earlier in the day in the 110 hurdles, making it two golds for the junior. During his decisive leg, he kept tabs on Stanley and moved to ensure he was always in front.

"I knew if my boys give it to me in front, there was nobody coming to get me," Dickson said. "Because if they come up beside me, I'm going to have to pass out or something, because I'm going to go as hard as I can. Either I'm going to die on the track, or I'm going to win."

Senior Nathan Parker was the Eagles' lone holdover from the 2013 4x400 relay that set a state record at Lower Richland. Beaufort High didn't approach the record time of 3:16.35 from a year ago, but it won with three new faces.

"It was just a working process," Parker said. "Ever since the beginning of the season, we've been fighting to see who we're going to put in the legs and who is going to run first, who is going to run second -- we just put that puzzle together."

Follow assistant sports editor Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.

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