Over the past two seasons, Rock Hill Track and Field has been a very successful program, competing at a high championship caliber in the state of South Carolina. Since 2017, Rock Hill Track and Field has produced 19 All State Athletes, 17 Individual Region Champions, a top five Girls 5A State Championship finish, 1 Undefeated Girls 5A Region Championship, and a 23-5 dual meet program record.
As impressive as those accomplishments in the field of athletics have been, they have been matched, if not bested, by the performances made in the field of academics. Currently, there are six former Bearcat Track and Field athletes that are competing collegiately in Cross Country and/or Track and Field. Two Division I athletes, two Division II athletes, one NAIA athlete and one Junior College athlete.
Lanie Jo Knight is a freshman attending James Madison University where she competes in cross country and track & field. LJ was a cross country and track & field athlete in the class of 2018. She left her mark at RHHS as a multiple time state championship performer in both sports as well as competing in swimming. She holds two track and field records as a member of the 4x800m relay and the distance medley relay. LJ is majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in education and a coaching minor. LJ is enjoying her time as a Division I collegiate athlete stating, “My overall collegiate student athlete experience thus far has been nothing but the best here at JMU. While the adjustment in running has been really tough and hard, it is still so much fun”. LJ’s advice to her former teammates is “Don’t forget about your goals and dreams. If you want something bad enough, the human body is an amazing machine and will do almost anything you tell it to do”. “The biggest difference between college athletics and high school that I have found up to this point is that there is a lot more running at way faster paces. It has definitely been very hard because we will be out on an easy run and the top girls are giving sixty percent, while I am having to give eighty percent just to keep up with them”, stated Lanie Jo when asked about the transition. Lanie Jo was looking forward to competing at the conference championships, where JMU was entering as the defending champions and looking to repeat.
Pressley Perry is a freshman attending University of South Carolina Gamecocks where she competes as a pole vaulter in the track & field program. Pressley is majoring in Engineering at USC. Pressley competed in track and field and girls’ golf as a graduate of the class of 2018. She currently holds the girls’ pole vault record at RHHS at 11’6”. She looks to improve upon her personal record her first year at USC by clearing 12’6”. When asked about her experience Pressley said, “My experience has been great so far, the team is super welcoming and supportive. I have practice every day except Sunday and have mandatory study hall three days during the week. Study hall is very helpful because it is hard to manage classes and practice, however, they offer tutors for almost any class”. Pressley expanded on the collegiate workload, “The biggest difference between high school and college is that it is more difficult managing practice and studies because of the longer workouts”. Pressley is looking forward to building relationships with all of her teammates and learning new techniques to build strength and speed. Her advice to those looking to follow her path, “Always give your all and keep a positive attitude, if you work hard you will reach your goal”.
Joey Teachout is a sophomore attending Anderson University where he competes for both the Cross Country and Track & Field programs. Joey has been majoring in Math and Engineering since arriving on campus. Joey graduated RHHS in 2017 as a decorated member of the Cross Country team responsible for four straight region championships and consistently qualifying for the state championships in track and field. Joey’s advice to aspiring collegiate athletes, “You want to make sure it is something you enjoy. Being an athlete is a commitment, but being a college athlete is even more of one. You need to be willing to sacrifice your free time to make yourself better, because that’s how you are going to get better”. He also shared that time management is of the utmost importance. “You have more work for both classes and athletics, but you also have more free time. You must learn to use this time efficiently and productively to enjoy college”. Anderson University is setting itself up to be a true championship contender in their conference and make a run for qualifying for nationals over the next couple of years while Joey is on the team. Personally, Joey is striving to better himself in several events this year by breaking four minutes in the 1500m run and break fifteen minutes in the 5k.
Catey Rithianos is a sophomore attending Lander University where she competes in Cross Country, there is currently no track & field program. Catey is majoring in Nursing with a minor in Military Science. Catey graduated RHHS in the class of 2017. Catey competes in the 5K and 6K at Lander and has steadily improved as she races against athletes across the nation. In two years with the program she has worked her way to the top of the team as a leader and top performer, but yet still finding ways to become better. “I want my 5K time to improve by two minutes, making it a low twenty minute race”. As one of the leaders in this Lander program Catey has taken an active role in recruiting other runners and mentoring prospective student athletes. “I strongly recommend joining a college team if you have the opportunity. Always continue to train hard and don’t let go of your goals. Put your academics first, you can’t compete if you can’t make good grades”. The future is bright for this aspiring nurse.
Johnathan White is a freshman attending Spartanburg Methodist College majoring in Criminal Justice. He is currently on the both the cross country and track & field teams. Johnathan or J White, as he was affectionately called by during his time at RHHS, graduated in the class of 2018. J White is a currently RHHS record holder as a member of the 4x800m relay set at the South Carolina State Championships in 2018. J White understands the importance of academics and how difficulty the transition from high school to college can be on a student athlete. “Keep your grades up and keep working hard in your sport. You have to be more dedicated in college and put more time and effort into it than you did in high school”. J White competes in the 8k at SMC and looks to improve upon his overall time by the beginning of next year by breaking twenty six minutes.
Corey McDowell is a freshman attending St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC. He is a member of the track and field team and was also redshirted as part of the football program. Corey graduated from RHHS in 2018. He was a four year sprinter that maximized his full potential his senior year by becoming a region champion in the 200m dash. At St. Andrews Corey will transition from primarily a short sprinter in high school (100m and 200m dashes) to a 200m/400m sprinter, with his eyes set on several program records. St. Andrews is a fairly new program as they started competing in 2016-2017. Corey looks to be a key asset to the program’s early success over the next few years.
Lastly, two former Bearcats not included in the track and field produced collegians are Kendrick Hicks and Jordan Morris. Both Hicks and Morris were members of the Rock Hill High Track and Field program, however, their athletic abilities were far greater on the football field as they both received scholarships to play collegiate football. Kendrick was a thrower at RHHS and graduated in the class of 2017 to attend Wingate University. Hicks is a key Linebacker of the championship winning football program at Wingate. Jordan, better known as J-Mo, graduated in 2018 and is a defensive back at Coastal Carolina University. J-Mo was an all-around track and field athlete that competed in races from the 100m dash to the 4x800m relay. While only competing in track and field for one year, his senior year, J-Mo left his imprint on the program as a member of the 4x800m relay team that set a school record while finishing second in the state of South Carolina at the state championships in May of 2018.