Patrick Obley Staff writer @fo_pmo

Every year, South View track coach Jesse Autry makes the rounds, visiting middle school and high school classrooms, recruiting fresh blood for his squad.

Xavier Mfikwa distinctly remembers Autry dropping in on a class during his freshman year. Two years later, he took up the offer.

“He was the worst sprinter we had last year,” Autry said this week as Mfikwa and the rest of the Tigers prepared for Saturday’s Class 4-A state championship at North Carolina A&T. “I love getting those little Harry Potter geeks as freshmen, but …”

As a junior coming out to sprint for the first time, Mfikwa had some speed, but little else. Autry and his coaching staff debated whether it was worth it to keep him on.

“Here’s how you make our team: Prove that you can help us now, or you prove you can help us in the future,” Autry said. “Freshmen and sophomores have a distinct advantage.

“We really kicked around last year whether we were going to hang on to him or not,” Autry continued. “He was actually on the chopping block. He came in as a junior and he didn’t have experience, but what he had was work ethic.

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