Green Hope girls soccer coach Bobby Peterson said he has never had a team as focused in the preseason as this years club.
The Falcons return eight starters from a 25-1 team that lost 2-1 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championship game to Cornelius Hough.
Among the veterans are senior forward Alexis Shaffer, the North Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year, and Alexis Degler, who scored 35 goals last season and was selected to the N.C. Soccer Coaches Association All-State team.
I have never seen a team here so focused, and ready to begin, Peterson said. I think they feel like we have unfinished business and all hold high expectations for the season.
They know what it will take to get back to where we want to be and that we will have to be better to achieve our goals. Last years team was the best ever at the school, but this years has the potential to be even greater if things come together properly.
Saint Marys soccer: Saints star Katherine Blair signed with Duke. The center midfielder led the Saints in goals and assists last season. She also is the starting point guard on the basketball team.
There is no day more special to a student-athlete than reaching her goal of playing for a nationally recognized athletic program, Saint Marys coach Jim Lavery said. Catherine Blair has sacrificed time with family and friends and fought through injuries and the demands of the game to be recognized as one of the premier players in the nation.
1,000-point scorer: Apex junior T.J. Evans has scored more than 1,000 points during his career. He crossed the milestone last week in an 87-69 victory over Holly Springs. He is averaging 17.7 points.
Come from behind: Carys Bakri Abushouk won the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A indoor track and field championships but never led in the 3,200 until the final 50 meters. He finished in 9 minutes, 25.4 seconds, half a second off Broughtons William Roberson, who led most of the race.
I never thought Id trail the whole race in the 3,200, Abushouk said. I was really struggling throughout that race and just hoped the pace didnt get too quick. I just pushed and was able to stay close enough. That last push was all my faith that God would push me through.
Shot put record: East Chapel Hills Jon Beyle has dominated the state for the past two years in the weight events. His 4A indoor title Saturday was his fourth title during the past year. He won the 2012 indoor shot title and the 2012 outdoor shot and discus crowns.
His throw of 61 feet, 10 inches was a state indoor record.
When I threw it I knew that everything was perfect about the throw, that Id really put it all together, Beyle said.
Only two high school athletes in the nation have thrown farther this year, according to national track expert Jim Spier. Braheme Days of Bridgeton, N.J., has four throws of 64 feet or better, including a 69-footer. Dylan Dyke of Waverly, Ohio, has thrown 64 feet.
Gibbons comes back: Cardinal Gibbons had two disqualifications during preliminary swims Saturday in the 3A swimming and diving championships. Crusaders coach Jonah Turner appealed to his swimmers to push for every place.
We knew we lost points earlier in the day and then Catholic beat us in the first relay of the finals, Turner said. From that point we had to get every point possible and win the other two relays. In the past it took 250 points to win the boys title, but this year, with Catholic stronger, we needed 300.
Gibbons won the final 400 relay to finish with 312 points to Catholics 283.
All-nighter: The Southeast Raleigh girls basketball team needed three overtimes to slip past East Wake 62-60 Friday night. The game was stopped three times for a total of about 60 minutes because of neighborhood blackouts.
The girls game didnt finish until 10:20 p.m. with the varsity boys game starting at 10:35 and finishing about midnight. Im so tired, veteran Southeast Raleigh girls coach Nicole Meyers said. But these girls make me more proud than any group Ive had.
This effort right here is probably the best game Ive been a part of as a coach and Ive been coaching for 12 years. East Wake has played us tough twice, they match up with us well and theyre just as athletic as we are. We knew it wasnt going to be easy.
D. Clay Best and Mike Potter contributed.