Cardinal Gibbons girls take second in 3A indoor track championships

cbest@newsobserver.comFebruary 7, 2014 

— Sophie Ebihara always tries to be quick to respond. The Cardinal Gibbons sophomore was again on Friday in the 3A state indoor track and field championships.

Ebihara answered teammate Mary Grace Doggett’s final surge for the lead in the 3,200-meter with one of her own on the final stretch and took the state championship by 0.02 seconds.

Those runs helped the Crusaders finish second, behind Waxhaw Marvin Ridge, which swept the team titles. Gibbons was 21 points behind the Mavericks and a point ahead of West Carteret.

Fayetteville Terry Sanford was second in the boys team rundown, six behind Marvin Ridge (56-50).

Ebihara ran with about a four-stride lead on Doggett for the majority of the race before Doggett pulled around her on the start of the final lap on the 200-meter JDL Fast Track.

“We both ran the four-by-eight (relay), so I knew we’d be tired going in, but I felt like I had a good shot,” Ebihara said. “Mary Grace is such a talented runner and she pushes me to get better. I was very much expecting her to make a move.”

Doggett held the lead by a stride until the final 25 meters when Ebihara made a move on the outside and just edged Doggett at the line.

“I always try to be quick to respond when somebody makes a move,” Ebihara said. “I didn’t know if I would have enough kick in me.”

After helping the Crusaders to a runner-up finish in the 4x800 relay (along with teammates Rachel Bartolomeo, Laura Hart and Ebihara), Doggett took second in the 1,600 and qualified for the 1,000 but elected not to run it to concentrate on other races.

“Sophie and I both help to push each other to get better,” Doggett said. “I was feeling pretty good when I made the last push. I just hoped it would be enough.”

Kayla Gandy of Gibbons took fourth in the 55 hurdles in 8.85 seconds.

The distance events at the first 3A-only indoor state championship meet (3A schools had previously been grouped with the 1A and 2A schools since 2007) included plenty of Triangle-area standouts.

Jared Buddington of Hillsborough Cedar Ridge finished fifth in the boys 3,200, while Gibbons sophomore Connor Peeples was fifth in the 1,600. Max Blackburn of Chapel Hill was eighth in the 1,000.

Chapel Hill sophomore Anna Passannante ran fourth in the girls 1,000 (3 minutes, 06.19 seconds). Corinth Holders junior Arden Vessie was fourth in the girls 1,600.

South Johnston’s ChyAnn Ketchum, competing in her third straight state meet, posted a career-best finish – on her 18th birthday no less – with her third place throw of 32 feet, 11 3/4 in the shot put. Teammate Savannah Creed was fourth in the pole vault (10 feet).

Best: 919-524-8895; Twitter: @dclaybest

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