Martinsville track

In this June 2018 photo, Martinsville’s Nigal Davis celebrates after tying for the win in the VHSL Class 2 outdoor track state championship in the 100 meter dash at East Rockingham High School in Elkton.

After an injury kept Martinsville’s Nigal Davis out of the state track meet a year ago, the Bulldogs junior ran at states for the first time Saturday.

“First state meet ever, I think I did pretty dang good at it,” Davis said Saturday.

Davis tied for the win in the boys 100 meter dash at the VHSL Class 2 Outdoor Track State Championship Saturday at East Rockingham High School in Elkton. Despite persistent rain throughout out the day and during the race, Davis still ran a personal best time of 10.82 in the event, tying Kyle Clanton of Central Woodstock for the crown.

Rain and thunder cancelled Friday’s preliminary races, allowing Davis extra time to rest his body and get a good night’s sleep for Saturday. He was ranked third going into the meet.

“I had confidence though because the two guys in front of me were just barely ahead,” he said. “My legs felt good. I exploded out of the block. The rain was hitting me, but I think that helped me run faster.”

Davis said he didn’t get out of the blocks quite as well as he would have liked, and he trailed Clanton until the final 10 meters. But he said he knew he has great catch-up speed, and he turned on the “speed boost” to catch Clanton at the finish line.

“It was a photo finish at the end,” he said. “They said we tied. I thought I beat him… It was about even, we were both pushing as hard as we can. We got to the finish line, both leaned, I stuck my arm out to have a little advantage because I have longer arms. They had to look at it on tape and they said it was too close to call.”

The temperatures in Elkton Saturday barely touched 70, and the persistent rain made it even colder. Davis said he’d never run a race in the rain before, which added to his nerves.

“When I was stretching I got the butterflies. I was nervous, nervousness ran though my body,” he said. “But Coach (Nathan Tanner) just came over and said ‘calm down.’ … Once I got in the blocks I knew it would all come down to whoever had the best technique and worked the hardest, and I worked hard all week. All track season I worked hard.”

“I was like, ‘man this is my last race of my junior season, I can’t go out like this.’ I just hit another gear and I started running as hard I can.”

Davis was also the anchor leg on the Martinsville boys 4x100 meter relay that finished second in the state Saturday. The Bulldogs were just 0.5 seconds behind Union High School.

He said the rain during that race was even worse than the 100.

“People were falling and sliding all over the place,” he said.

In the relay, Nwachukwu Ugbomah-Otunuya started the race, followed by Eric Wilson and Tyrese Toney, who handed off to Davis for the final leg.

“Chewy (Ugbomah-Otunuya) he surprised me. He came out the blocks really well, he caught two people. We were first or second after first leg,” Davis said. “Then he handed to Eric Wilson, and he did his thing. Tyrese, he ran against a fast dude. The third leg for Union, he was really powerful and strong. He gave them a little advance. Tyrese ran a good race, it was just that guy was really good.

“Once Unions’ anchor got the baton they had a nice little lead. I almost caught him but I just couldn’t quite get it.”

Davis becomes the third member of Martinsville’s boys track team to win a Class 2 state title in the last two seasons. Sidney Allen won the boys 1,600 meter run, and Justin Manns won the boys triple jump for the Bulldogs a season ago.

The rain may have fell in Elkton Saturday, but Davis shined bright on the track to bring another title back to Martinsville.

“It was different, exciting,” he said. “I’ll always remember that because my first state championship in track came on a rainy, thundery day.”

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.

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