The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference track and field championship runs through old rivals Cary and Apex.
Each school has won at least one conference championship each season since 2008, and the trend may continue this year, judging by this past season’s N.C. High School Athletic Association indoor track title.
Apex’s boys were third, and the girls were second, while Cary’s girls were second.
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Cary, fourth in 4A outdoor, returns all four of its state champion 4-by-800 relay team – Julia Brown, Lakeisha Warner, Cayla Rodney and Layla White.
White, a Tennessee recruit, also won the 400-meter dash while Warner was second in the 800-meter run.
Junior Charminique Hackney is one of the state’s top sprinters. She’s a regional champ in the 100 and SWAC track MVP who set new league records in the 100 and 200. Desi Rowell was a high-jump state qualifier.
Cary girls swept the 100 through the 800 as White, a junior, set a 200 meet record with a 24.15 and won the 400 with a state-leading 55.16. White surged from third place in the final 30 meters to win the 200. The Imps’ Olivia Goodwin won the SWAC 300 hurdles.
Apex, which tied for fifth in 4A outdoor last year and finished second in the SWAC, brings back senior Anna Eaton, a North Carolina recruit, to defend her NCHSAA pole vault title. Teammate and fellow pole vaulter Sydney Isgett finished fourth.
Apex’s Sydnei Murphy, a Duke recruit, has her eyes on potentially four state titles. She won the long jump and triple jump last season while finishing second in the 100-meter dash and sixth in the 200. She had 32 points by herself.
Senior Tiffany Finley qualified for states in the shot put and won the SWAC in the discus. Senior Katie Mazanec won the SWAC title in the high jump.
Green Hope, third in the SWAC, will be paced by its distance runners, including junior Elly Henes, an indoor and cross country champ this season, junior Kayla Hall, senior Elisa Sargent and senior Theresa Enright. The Falcons also return Danyel De Souza, the SWAC 100-meter hurdles champ.
Henes was second in the 1,600-meter run while Enright was fourth in the 3,200.
Middle Creek, fourth in the SWAC, brings back sophomore Katie Nelson was a state high jump qualifier.
Panther Creek, fifth in the SWAC, has senior Rebekah Greengrass, an N.C. State recruit. She’s one of the state’s top distance runners.
Athens Drive (sixth), Fuquay-Varina (seventh) and Holly Springs (eighth) return to improve their finishes.
Apex’s boys were second in 4A and won SWAC and Mideast regional titles, but five state qualifiers have graduated.
Drew Pedersen, the 4A boys pole vault champ, is back for the Cougars as is fellow pole vaulter Michael Utecht. Utecht finished fourth in the 4A outdoor.
The Cougars also return SWAC 100-meter dash champ Tyler Cook and state qualifying shot put thrower Kevin Easterling.
Green Hope, second in the SWAC last season, and Holly Springs, third, graduated much talent.
Holly Springs does return Daniel Ligons, a junior who was third in the 4A shot put. Green Hope brings back SWAC 200 champ Kwabena Sarpong.
Cary, fourth in the SWAC, returns Dejan Foster (high jump) and Kevin Schmid (pole vault) as state qualifiers.
Middle Creek’s Terrell Adams was the SWAC shot put champ and a regional qualifier for the fifth-place Mustangs.
Fuquay-Varina brings back seniors T.J. Bleichner, an indoor track champ and defending SWAC 400 champ, and senior Parker Lee, who was third in the 1,600.
Athens Drive was seventh in last year’s conference, and Panther Creek was eighth.