On a muggy day when points mattered more than times, Cardinal Gibbons got off to a fast start and got two first-place finishes from Mary Grace Doggett and Kayla Gandy to win the girls’ title at the Big Eight Conference championship meet Thursday. Chapel Hill won the boys’ championship, powered by two wins from Collin Vilen.
Other double winners included Jonathan Hall of Cedar Ridge (boys’ 110 hurdles, 330 hurdles) and Imoh Udoh of Northwood (boys’ 200, long jump).
Cardinal Gibbons won the girls title by 178 points at Cedar Ridge High School.
Chapel Hill, helped by wins from Anna Passannante (800 meters) and Quinece Fish (triple jump), took second place with 109 points. Oxford Webb’s girls were third with 101, followed by Cedar Ridge (69), Northwood (44), Orange (41), Northern Vance (15) and Southern Durham (8).
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Chapel Hill needed both of Vilen’s top finishes in the 1600 meters (5:32.5) and the 3200 meters (9:59.2) to get 116 points and fight off runner-up Cedar Ridge (99 points).
Northern Vance and Northwood tied for third in the boys standings with 81 points, followed by Cardinal Gibbons (61), Orange (48), Webb (43) and Southern Durham (29).
Neither of Vilen’s winning times were anywhere close to his personal bests this season. He’s never liked running in the middle of the week, and he said a strong headwind on the last turn didn’t help.
“I ran here to get the wins, not the times,” Vilen said. “We came here with the intention of winning the team championship, and we pulled it off.”
Like Vilen, Doggett won both her 1600 meters (5:11.24) and 3200 meters (11.18.1) with times well off her personal bests.
“This wasn’t our fastest day,” Gibbons head coach Nick Mangum said. “But when you come to a meet like this, it’s not about times. It’s about points and the team title.”
The Gibbons girls dominated from the start, winning five of the meet’s first six events. That began with a win in the 4x800 (10:33), followed by Gandy’s win in the 100 hurdles (15.15 seconds). Gibbons also won the 4x200 and 4x100 relays, sandwiched around Doggett’s win in the 1600.
Gandy took first in the 300 hurdles to help Gibbons open up a 17-point lead after eight events. By the time Dogget won the 3200, the girls’ title was sealed.