On the way home from her official visit to N.C. State this past November, Elizabeth Seton senior Javonne Antoine had an inkling she’d commit to the Wolfpack’s track and field program.

She didn’t want to rush her decision and kept an open mind for a little more than two months, also considering Central Florida and Michigan State. But every time she thought about her decision, N.C. State seemed like the right fit. A week ago, Antoine couldn’t wait any longer. She called the coaching staff and offered her verbal commitment.

“As time progressed, I started thinking of each of the visits I took,” she said. “N.C. State stood out more to me.”

Antoine, whose specialty is the triple jump, has posted one of the best seasons in that event in the country. She jumped 40.075 feet at the Hispanic Games in New York on Jan. 4. Her goal is to jump 41 feet by the season’s end.

Conversing with the N.C. State coaching staff, she developed a bond with assistant coach Chris Coleman, who specializes in jumps, sprints and hurdles.

“He really showed me he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to jumps and the dynamics of how to make the jumper better,” Antoine said.

That comfort level, along with her love of the N.C. State campus, helped make her decision easier, she said. Antoine will sign her letter of intent with N.C. State on Feb. 5.

“Overall, as a university it felt more comfortable than the other schools,” Antoine said. “I felt a good connection with the team and the coach. It felt like the right place to be.”

Team unity at USC ideal for Ricky Morgan

When Forest Park sprinter Ricky Morgan visited Southern California’s track and field program, he was impressed to learn how accountable each runner had to be.

Catching a practice, he saw one runner commit a false start. As a result, both the men’s and women’s teams were punished with extra running. No one complained, no one was upset. Everyone took the punishment in stride.

It was that kind of unity, Morgan said, that drove him to verbally commit to USC.

Academics were also a major factor in the decision for Morgan, who wants to major in kinesiology and minor in business.

Being far from the D.C. area won’t be too much of a difference for Morgan. He grew up in a military home and is used to moving around the country.

“I’m military-based, so there’s nothing to it,” he said. “It’ll be a different feel not waking up with your parents.”

Morgan has had a solid season, running the 300 in 35.28 seconds at the PR Invitational and being a part of the winning 4×200 relay at the Southeastern Invitational in Hampton, Va.

“For myself, I expect big things,” Morgan said. “I’ve got goals. I write them down and put them over my bedroom door so every day I tap out, tap in, so I know what I’m shooting for in the indoor season. I’m trying to make the world junior team.”

Freeland another in D.C. to Tennessee pipeline

Dunbar sprinter London Freeland caught the eye of Tennessee assistant coach Sharon Couch-Fikes when she was a freshman.

When Freeland was finally able to meet Couch-Fikes, during the recruiting process, the now-senior for the Crimson Tide realized the two shared a lot in common when it came to track and field.

That connection with Couch-Fikes, who specializes in sprinting, helped the Volunteers land Freeland’s commitment. It has only furthered the D.C. area pipeline to Tennessee: On both the men’s and women’s teams, Tennessee has five track athletes from the metro area.

Freeland has had an exceptional indoor season, highlighted with a win in the 500 at the Montgomery Invitational. Her 1:16.43 edged Western Tech’s Sharon Dorsey’s 1:16.45 for the win.

Freeland said Couch-Fikes reminded her of her godmother, Karen Golatt, who trains her during the summer months. It didn’t hurt hearing how highly the Tennessee assistant thought of the Dunbar star.

“How was she was talking was inspiring,” Freeland said. “She would tell me things that when I get to Tennessee, she knows I’ll make it to SEC finals. It boosted my confidence up.”