Cardinal Gibbons’ girls team rode its traditional strengths in the distance runs and added a few top-five finishes in field events to finish second in the NCHSAA 3A Indoor Track and Field State Championships on Saturday afternoon at the JDL Fast Track.
Waxhaw’s Marvin Ridge edged Gibbons 67-62 for the girls team title. The Mavericks had a much easier time in the boys team competition with 96 points, 36 ahead of runner-up Asheville.
The Crusaders took the girls 3,200-meter relay state gold in 10:04.23. Annie Pierce, Abby Doyle, Alina Rovnall and Sophie Ebihara combined on the run. All four Gibbons runners are underclassmen.
Chapel Hill was third in the 3,200 relay at 10:10.54 with three freshmen: Madi Marvin, Anna Stouffer and Grace Tate as well as junior Milly Ames.
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Ebihara also cruised to victory in the 3,200, winning in 11:13.93. Senior teammate Amanda Wiggenhorn was second at 11:18.48, which excited Ebihara more than her own finish did.
“She’s moved her way up in the two-mile races, just worked so hard and to see her get a great finish is what makes me happy,” Ebihara said. “I’m just really happy for her. That makes my day.”
Megan Vaughn was the runner-up in the 1,600 for Gibbons and fifth in the 1,000, and Chapel Hill’s Katherine Dokholyan, a freshman, finished fifth.
Kayla Gandy set a personal record in the 55 hurdles at 8.58 seconds and was named the Crusaders’ sportsmanship award winner. (One player from each of the top two finishing teams are presented with sportsmanship awards at the state finals.)
Rams grab a state relay title: Cleveland’s girls 800 relay team rolled to a state championship in 1:49.78.
Syndi Fields put Cleveland comfortably in the lead after taking the first baton exchange from Imani Williams. The lead was up to 20 meters by the time Fields handed off to Cassidy McNierney. McNierney stretched the lead out even more, giving Alyssa Rivera a comfortable margin for the anchor leg.
The only issue at that point was the time the Rams would log and Williams brought home a best of the season leg, completing a run of 1:49.78.
“Doing something like this depends so much on everybody contributing,” Williams said. “Everyone on the team had to come out and do their part and work together to make this happen.”
A long pole vault duel: South Johnston’s Savannah Creed and Cardinal Gibbons’ Sofia San Miguel waged a battle of endurance in the girls pole vault finals. Both cleared 11 feet, but then missed on three attempts each at 11-6 and then 11-3. To break the tie they got one attempt each at 11 feet, then 10-9, then 10-6. Creed was able to clear at 10-6 for the gold.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard for,” Creed said. “I went from trying this not knowing what I was doing as a freshman, then doing everything I could to be the best I could. It’s all paid off today.”
Fatigue was a definite factor for both vaulters.
“Everything on your body gets tired,” Creed said. “You’re running like a sprinter, jumping as high as you can, then you still have to have the strength and agility of a gymnast to get over the top of the bar.”
Racing only the clock: Connor Peoples of Cardinal Gibbons had hoped to get out to an early lead in the boys 1,000. He did just that. Running the second half of the race basically by himself with a 25-meter lead was a bit of a surprise.
Peoples claimed the state title in 2:32.98, breaking his own P.R. by about 2 seconds but coming up a little short of his goal time of 2:30.
“I felt like I had a good chance if I was able to take the lead early,” Peoples said. “I was a little surprised at the lead I had when I glanced back. I kind of wish somebody had been there because it probably would have made me go faster.”
Northwood senior Alex Council went back-to-back in the girls 55-meter dash. She won in 7.17 seconds.
Will Harris finished third in the 1,600 for Gibbons and teammate Connor Lane was third in the 3,200. Gibbons was also the highest finishing area boys team (fifth).
Other area top-five finishers in the state were Cleveland’s Tiandra Jenkins (fourth in the girls 55 meters), Samara Gibson of Corinth Holders (fourth in the girls 500), Sadavion Dixon of Corinth Holders (fourth in the boys triple jump) and David Harris of Cardinal Gibbons (fifth in the boys 3,200).
East Henderson’s Tanis Baldwin was the boys meet MVP, winning the 1,600 and 3,200 state titles. Southern Guilford’s Kylie McMillan was the girls MVP with three top-five finishes, including a win in the 55 meters.