Photo by Derrick Mahone
North Clayton sophomore Melvin Wilson won the boys title at Wednesday’s Clayton County Cross Country Championships at Lovejoy Park. He dedicated the race to his cousin, who was killed two years ago.
Melvin Wilson wasn’t going to lose.
It wasn’t that he just wanted to win the Clayton County Cross Country Championship on Wednesday to get a first place medal, the North Clayton sophomore had a bigger reason.
It would have been his cousin’s 19th birthday, if not for that frightful day on June 17, 2010 when Darnell Fields was shot to death while walking with his aunt on a wooded path in his Clayton County neighborhood.
“This win was dedicated to him,” Wilson said. “There was no way I was going to lose this race.”
Wilson had to out-sprint Lovejoy’s Felix Sams to claim his first county championship.
“We have been battling all season,” Wilson said. “We were going neck and neck out there (Wednesday). I told myself that I wasn’t going to look back. I wasn’t worried about anybody.”
Wilson missed the entire cross country season last fall after getting his physical too late.
This win, he said, more than makes up for the lost season.
Last April, he finished fourth in Region 4-AAAA in the 800-meters during the track and field season. North Clayton will compete in the region cross country championships in Fairburn.
“My cousin and I use to run together,” Wilson said. “This was supposed to be our year.”
North Clayton coach Martisse Troup said that Wilson has come a long way in his training since last season.
“He has made a lot of progress,” Troup said. “He has two more years to really work on some things that could make him a championship runner.”
Lovejoy won the boy’s county title with three runners finishing in the top five.
On the girls’ side, Forest Park junior Evante Belardo dominated in winning her third straight county title. With the help of her teammates, Forest Park swept the five places to win the county championship.
“I’m definitely pleased with the race,” Belardo said. “I always try to stay positive when I’m out there running.”
The top seven finishers at the county meet were given medals and deemed first-team all-county runners.
Clayton County Championships
First-team all-county runners
Melvin Wilson, North Clayton
Felix Sams, Lovejoy
Xavier Shead, Lovejoy
Karl Addie, Lovejoy
Alexander Garcia, Forest Park
Timmy Pritchell, Lovejoy
Jarman Brown, Mount Zion
Evante Beldardo, Forest Park
Alondro Magana, Forest Park
Sara Rivera, Forest Park
Betty Huynh, Forest Park
Osiris Dominguez, Forest Park
Isis Cumming, Mount Zion
Lawal Oluwatobi, North Clayton