Widely known for its excellent distance runners, Chapel Hill got big wins from field events Saturday to win the boys’ championship in the N.C. High School Athletics Association 3A Mideast Regional meet.
Chapel Hill’s Jecori Owens-Schuler won the boys discus with a mark of 134 feet, 6 inches, while junior teammate Albert Nyamayaro earned first place in the shot put with a distance of 6-4, and junior Dillon Kopec took the pole vault with a height of 12-6.
“We only qualified 12 athletes total to states last year, and this year we have 10 boys and 10 girls making the trip to N.C. A&T,” Chapel Hill coach Joan Nesbit-Mabe noted.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for this Friday’s 3A state championship meet at N.C. A&T State’s Irwin Belk Track in Greensboro.
Chapel Hill won the boys’ regional title with 71 points, bettering the 64 by runner-up Cardinal Gibbons. Big 8 Conference fellow members Cedar Ridge (39), South Durham (31) and Northwood (29), finished seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively, while Orange (25) was 18th thanks in large part to the 10 points earned by Monte Mitchell in winning the 110 hurdles.
The Tigers came within nine points of sweeping the championships, finishing a close second in the girls’ meet with 102 points, just behind Eastern Guilford (111). Cardinal Gibbons (77) was a distant third.
Led by Kacia Vines’ victory in the long jump (17-02.5), Cedar Ridge finished tied for seventh with Northern Guilford and Fayetteville Terry Sanford with 33 points apiece. Northwood (30) took 10th and Orange (8) 18th place.
Chapel Hill’s frustrations in the girls meet was exemplified by 2-miler Elise Matera, who collapsed on the homestretch of the Northern Guilford track with heat exhaustion, said Nesbit-Mabe.
“She was about to punch her ticket to states with her fourth-place run,” said Mabe, whose attempts to help Matera to her feet were rebuffed by the CHHS senior. “Elise didn’t want to be DQ’d (disqualified), so she literally crawled — scraping both knees badly — across the line to 10th place.
“The ambulance took her to Moses Cone Hospital for several I.V. bags and she is fine today. But I’m not really able to speak about the two trophies we won without being devastated for Elise.”
Chapel Hill sophomore Clare McNamara led a notable finish by Tigers in the middle distances. McNamara cut two seconds off her 1600 time from the Big 8 Championships to win the Mideast Regional in 5:05.01, beating conference champion Meghan Vaughn of Cardinal Gibbons (5:10.64) by more than 5 seconds. Chapel Hill ninth-grader Katherine Dokhoylan (5:15.85) qualified for states with her third-place finish.
McNamara (2:21.34) led a 2-3-4 finish by the Tigers in the girls 800 meters, joined in qualifying by junior Anna Passannante (2:22.9) and ninth-grader Madi Marvin (2:24.09).
Passannante anchored Chapel Hill’s winning 4x800 relay, running with Milly Ames, Joy Stouffer and Grace Tate; and Passannante and McNamara both ran on Chapel Hill’s second-place 4x400 relay, running with sophomore Erica Johnson and junior Jessi Szymczak.
Chapel Hill junior Marija Crook qualified individually with a second place (11:32.6) in the 3200 meters.
Chapel Hill’s Kiara Dean qualified in the 100 hurdles with her season-best time of 17.25, good for a second place, but just missed in the 200 hurdles with a fifth place (50.32).
Northwood’s Alex Council was first after pre-lims in the 100 meters but was second (12.5) in the finals by one-tenth of a second behind Eastern Guilford’s Taylor Henderson (12.4), who also won the 200.
Council also qualified as the anchor of Northwood’s runnerup 4x100 relay, which included Kristian Eanes, Jazanae Billings and Savannah Morris.
The Tigers’ Reagan Roeber (5th, 3200), Quanience Fish (5th long jump, 6th triple jump), and their girls 4x100 relay (5th) and 4x200 relay (8th) all scored points for the Tigers while barely missing out on qualifying for states, as did Max Blackburn (5th, 300 hurdles) and Jotham White (7th, triple jump).
Big 8 entrants did well in the pole vault, led by Northwood sophomore Tessa Sheets in first (11-3), Cedar Ridge junior Dana Davis (8-6) in third and Chapel Hill ninth-grader Roxanne Fortney (8-0) in fourth.
Other local qualifiers in the girls’ meet included Molly Nicholson of Chapel Hill (discus).
Hot and humid conditions at the track “took its toll on the distance runners,” Nesbit Mabe said.
Chapel Hill’s only individual qualifiers for the boys were junior Harrison Young with a third place (50.63) in the open 400 and Drew Roeber (4:34.46) in the 1600.
Roeber ran on both the third-place 4x800 relay — with Daniel Kleissler, Jonathan Timothy and Max Blackburn — and the fourth-place 4x400, which included Kleissler, Blackburn and Young.
Other local qualifiers in the boys’ meet included: long jump winner Chris McCoy of Cedar Ridge (21 feet, 10.75 inches); Cedar Ridge junior Jeremy Cates (discus); Northwood’s Tristian Cochran (800 meters), Imoh Udoh (long jump) and Jack Maynard (pole vault);’ and Orange freshman Jamar Davis (triple jump).