Nigal Davis tied for the VHSL Class 2 state championship in the 100 meter dash last season, and won the event at the Region 2C meet last week, running 11.30 seconds.
Now, the Bulldogs senior is going in this weekend in unfamiliar territory. After going in seeded third last year, he knows this year he’s the target as he looks to defend his title.
“It’s a big difference because last year… people weren’t really worried about me,” Davis said. “But now they know who I am, they know what I’m capable of, it’s harder to defend my title. I have a target on my head, so people will be like ‘oh yea that’s Nigal Davis’ so I have to go harder than I did last year.”
“I kind of like the idea that Nigal is not going in first in the state just like he didn’t last year, but he managed to win it,” said Martinsville Boys Coach Eli Robertson. “Because I think that’s going to add a little fuel to his fire.”
Davis has spent this season doing extra work after practice and on weekends to prepare for this week, as well as doing more to rejuvenate and relax his muscles. He’ll also run the 200 meter dash, where he ran 22.58 last week at regions, as well as the 4x100 meter relay.
Davis will attend UVA next year on a full-ride academic scholarship, but said he’s talked with the track and football coaches there about possibly walking on.
No matter what happens from here on out, he said his biggest thing is just “going out with a bang.”
“The main goal is always winning, but it’s my senior year so I’m trying to have fun,” he said. “As long as I go out there and try my best, give my best effort, know I gave my best, that’s all that really counts. Knowing I tried my hardest and whatever happens, happens.”
UGBOMAH-OTUNUYA LOOKING FOR BETTER RESULTS
Bulldogs’ senior Nwachukwu Ugbomah-Otunuya said last year he didn’t properly prepare his body or mind for the state championship meet, and the results showed.
Now, after winning two individual events in regions last week, he know this year will be different.
“I kind of took it for granted. I was kind of lax, I was relaxed a little bit,” he said. “So this year I definitely learned some things, treat my body a little bit better, so that will help a bit.
“I’ve just been taking every meet like it is the state meet. No matter if it’s the state meet or a local or regional meet. Treating every meet like it’s my last meet because you never know what will happen. Preparing my body, making sure I’m not over taxing myself because, I’m not saying only this meet matters but it is the biggest meet so making sure that I’m prepping myself while also getting better for this meet, that is a big focus for me.”
Ugbomah-Otunuya won the 110 meter hurdles with a time of 15.87, the high jump with a jump of 6-feet-2.5-inches, and was third in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 42.96.
He said he’s most looking forward to the high jump, not only because he’s seeded first, but because he has unfinished business when it comes to the event.
“Last year I did fail myself in that, so this year if I come in and make a statement and show everybody what I can do,” he said. “Plus it’s my first event so it will carry my energy for the rest of the days.”
RELAY AND OTHER EVENTS
Ugbomah-Otunuya will be joined in the 110 meter hurdles event by Terrell Price, who ran 16.60 and finished third at regions, and Nick Pritchett, who ran 17.09 and finished fourth.
“I would love to see all three of those guys in the same race together. I don’t know if it’s going to happen but it would be really cool,” Robertson said.
The Bulldogs will also send a 4x100 meter relay team, which won last week’s region title after running 43.72 as a team. Ugbomah-Otunuya and Davis are joined by soccer players Aaron Dalton and Jaedyn McKinney in the relay. Due to their soccer schedule, last week at regions was just the second time the four had run together in the event.
“Aaron runs indoor, so he’s petty experienced with the track and running from blocks and stuff like that,” Robertson said. “Jaedyn hasn’t run much track if any. Basically we just know Jaedyn is fast and he had a lot of classes this semester with Nigal, and Nigal kind of talked to him about it and that’s how we got him in there.
“It didn’t take a whole lot of convincing for either one of them because they know they have a real chance of winning the whole thing. So they’re excited about it and we are too.”
“They’re fast dudes so it’s really good,” Davis said. “Our biggest thing is handoffs, but they definitely have the speed to keep up with the pace of everybody and we’re looking pretty good at winning it this year.”
“I personally think we’re a better team than last year’s relay,” Ugbomah-Otunuya said. “Our chemistry is picking up fast and we have some good runners so that’s looking good for us… The key is just having good communication, that’s all it is. And just trusting each other because you have to have that leap of faith and make sure everybody is on the same page and that’s where leaders like Nigal come in and help the team out.”
Martinsville will run at East Rockingham High School in Elkton with preliminary heats and field events on Friday night, and field events and finals on Saturday beginning at 9 a.m.
“Everybody has a chance, and I’m glad we’re taking six guys up there,” Robertson said. “That’s a pretty good number for us. And it just helps that the girls are doing so good too.”