With 2021-22 school year now at a close, area high school sports fans have a couple of months off before the Richmond Raider sports teams are in action again.
For those that do not follow middle school sports, the Richmond Observer will take a look at some future Raiders that you may or may not know about. Today’s featured female and male middle school athlete are Presley Dawkins and Keonta Pegues, both of Rockingham Middle.
While Richmond County has produced its share of speedy runners, it’s not often that a running sport athlete in Richmond County garners as much attention as Dawkins has over the past two years at Rockingham Middle. In a recent social media poll that allowed Richmond County fans, students and parents to vote on their favorite middle school athlete, Dawkins collected the most votes this year and was the only vote recipient to finish in the top 10 in the poll in both 2020-21 and 2021-22.
The rising freshman is well known for her love of running outside of scholastic competition as she competes with her dad in nearly every 5K that they can find within driving distance – often finishing first in her age group.
At Rockingham Middle, Dawkins ran for the school’s cross-country program, but has also found success on the soccer field. She was part of the conference champion Lady Rockets soccer team that finished 11-0. Of the conference’s 41 spring sports teams, they were the only one to go undefeated.
“My favorite moments were running in cross country,” Dawkins shared. “I love everything involving running and playing soccer with my friends. It’s been really cool going undefeated.”
Dawkins expressed a lot of appreciation to her coaches at Rockingham Middle, especially Amanda Gainey and Asheley Turner.
“Mrs. Gainey, thank you for always believing in me and pushing me to be a better athlete,” Dawkins said in a shout out to her coaches. “I’m so thankful you were not only my teacher but my cross-country coach! I’ll miss you! Ms. Turner, thank you for always making me smile and pushing me to do my best. You’re the reason I love soccer so much. Love you!”
“Presley is such an amazing young lady,” said Turner. “She has so much going for her. She has a humble disposition and a champion’s heart. I have enjoyed so much watching her progress into the young lady she has become. I can’t wait to see what she does in this world.”
Dawkins plans to stay busy during her green and gold years as well with plans to try out for cross county, track, and soccer at Richmond Senior.
Dawkins was also a member of the Rockingham Middle Beta Club, runs with the Magnum Track Club, and is a member of the Freedom Baptist Church Youth group.
“Presley is an amazing young lady with a great work ethic,” shared Gainey. “She truly enjoys running. She is encouraging to others on and off the course. I can’t wait to watch her and see what her future holds!”
Rising freshman Keonta Pegues is well known among all fan groups that attended Rockingham Middle sports. Pegues was a multisport athlete playing football, basketball and soccer for the Rockets. His effort and personality made him popular in the school and in the community.
When Richmond County families, students and fans were asked to vote for their favorite middle school athlete in an online poll, Pegues finished at the top of the list.
For his efforts, Pegues was the Rockingham Middle defensive player of the year in both basketball and soccer and received the most improved award in football. He also received the coach’s award which is given each year to only one male and one female student athlete at Rockingham Middle.
Rockingham Middle Social worker and assistant basketball coach Deion Green was quick to point out that Pegues succeeds in more than just sports.
“Keonta demonstrates excellence in the classroom,” said Green. “He received academic awards for maintaining As and Bs throughout the year. He is well-mannered and is going to give you a 110% in everything he does.”
Pegues also plays basketball with the Richmond Jammers, a successful AAU basketball program in Rockingham credited for improving talent in many current middle and high school basketball players in Richmond County.
He hopes to play under the Friday night lights at Raider Stadium and his greatest memory as a Rocket was throwing the game tying touchdown against rival Hamlet Middle.
Rockingham basketball coach Julius Bowden said it was a “privilege” to coach Pegues. “He was the Defensive Player Of The Year for our team,” Bowden said. “If a team had a star player it was his job to guard them and he was always up for the challenge.”