The Daily Southerner
It nearly four months until track season, but Coach Ricky Dozier already has good news — W.A. Patillio Alumni donated eight Newton Starting Blocks to the Tarboro high school track teams.
The alumni president, Dr. Fred S. Wood Jr., presented the Newton Blocks to Edgecombe County Public Schools board during its November meeting.
Dozier has not seen the track equipment yet, but he said, "they are much needed."
Newton starting blocks were patented by Tarboro native Milton Alexander Newton Jr., a graduated of W.A. Pattillo. While living in California, Newton designed the cast-aluminum blocks for his daughter, who aspired to be a Junior Olympian.
The starting blocks became popular and have been used by colleges and professional track athletes and now, in at least one high school.
"It's been a few years since we purchased some new ones," Dozier said. "We definitely can use them. Dozier said he had not heard of Newton, but he hopes that the Tarboro native's story would become an inspiration to his team.
Tarboro's boys did not advance to the state meet in the track events last year because of nagging injuries, Dozier said. The girls advanced and placed fourth in the 4x100 relay and fifth in the 4x200 relay. In 2010, the boys advanced to the state in the 4x100 and won the gold. The starting anchors used starting blocks.
"Starting blocks are very important to sprinters," Dozier said. "They help you get out of the box faster. Some kids don't know how important they are."
The 1984 Olympics were promoted with photos of the decathlete Rafer Johnson using Newton blocks and, a likeness of Jesse Owens with Newton blocks is on display in the Smithsonian Institute.
At the age of 40, Newton's daughter encouraged him to compete in track and field. Nick became a sprinter setting several age group national and world records at 200- and 400-meters as well as the high jump.
As a Nike-sponsored athlete, he toured and competed as a member of the U.S. team in many foreign countries including Finland, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Italy, and China.
Newton is not the only heralded athlete in his family. His son-in-law, Loyce Crisp, is a former prizefighter, and his daughter, Pamela Crisp, is a former champion sprinter. His daughter, Sheileah Crisp, is a professional ice skater and his grandson, Coco Crisp, is a professional baseball player with the Oakland A's
Newton's mother, Maude Bullock Porter, lived in Tarboro until she passed away at the age of 95.