- By Luke Stricklandlstrickland@news-daily.com
COLLEGE PARK — Two North Clayton student-athletes — Moena Battle and Jaiquan Earls — will continue their track and field careers at Bethune-Cookman University in Dayton Beach, Fla.
Battle and Earls both made history last month when they claimed individual state track and field titles at the GHSA Class AAAA Championships. Battle won the high jump, while Earls earned gold in the triple jump. The duo became the first state champions for North Clayton since the 1993 boys basketball program.
Battle, who starred for North Clayton’s Region 4-AAAA championship girls basketball team, will also have the opportunity to work out with the girls basketball program in addition to being on scholarship with the track and field program.
“It feels awesome to accomplish something like this because to be honest I never saw it coming,” Battle said. “I didn’t think about ever getting a track scholarship for something I did as a stepping stone for my main sport. But it is truly a blessing because what is for me will always be for me, and that’s what I learned through my journey.”
Earls was offered on the spot by Bethune-Cookman coaches after he won state last month. After a few weeks of contemplation, he and his family decided.
“Coach (Tyree) Price from Bethune-Cookman built up trust with coach (Henry) Laws and a bond with me. That pretty much made me decide,” Earls said. “His resume and the athletes he coaches and how they performed, I’m looking to perform at that level and I know he can coach me up.”
Earls and Battle have developed a strong friendship over the years competing for North Clayton. Earls said that going to school out of state with someone that he is familiar with was a big relief.
“Knowing that she’s going too, it feels good because I won’t be the only person there,” he said. “Me and her, we’ve been on the same team since freshman year. We’ve built a bond, we’ve discussed what we’re going to do. At first, I wanted to wait and see my options, but I didn’t want to go to school where I didn’t have anybody there that I know.”