Winning never gets old.
“Because it gets better every year,” says East Chapel Hill field hockey coach Susan Taylor.
An East alum and letter-winner herself, Taylor has now coached her Wildcats to eight straight N.C. Field Hockey Association state championships after a 4-0 win Nov. 12 over Charlotte Myers Park.
The championship final was delayed four times (by rain and a Veteran’s Day celebration) and changed venues three times. But once the game was staged, East won with ease.
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“I was so ready,” East junior Kila Hancock said after scoring a hat trick. “I wasn’t going to lose this. This was three months of hard work.”
The N.C. field hockey championship was just one of the highlights of another great year for Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools.
Carrboro capped the school year by winning the Wells Fargo Cup – emblematic of being the state’s best 2A athletic program – for a fifth straight time.
“What an amazing year,” Carrboro Athletics Director April Ross said in an email. “Congratulations to our student athletes, coaches, staff, and parents. It is an enormous tribute to our Carrboro community, since we are one of the smallest 2A schools in the state while offering programming similar to 3A and 4A schools.”
Here are some of the year’s other top performances:
Surprise: Carrboro’s Amanda Hickey was a surprise titlist – at least to to herself – in the women’s NCHSAA cross-country championship meet. After favorite and race leader Brittany Stanley of Mount Pleasant fell in the final 400 meters, Hickey surged past Kaitlyn Stone of West Stokes to claim the victory.
“I was in a huge group of girls, all fabulous runners,” Hickey said. “I got into third place, and I thought that was it. I thought, ‘If I can hold this, I’m satisfied, I’m good.’...
“I still can’t believe it. It was a huge shock.”
Less of a surprise was Chapel Hill winning another cross-country team title last fall in dominating fashion. Katherine Dokholyan, Clare McNamara and Marija Crook all finished in the top five of the women’s 3A meet, while teammates Madi Marvin and Grace Tate were among the top 15 scorers.
It overshadowed a great performance by the CHHS men, who earned second place in the 3A cross-country championship meet.
Chapel Hill sophomore Gina Kim posted what she called a “boring” round of 71 to win the 3A girls golf individual championship by six strokes at Foxfire Village. Ranked among the top 50 girls golfers in the nation, Kim opened the tournament with birdies on four of her first eight holes, had a 32 as she made the turn and never looked back.
“I felt like it gave me a huge advantage, really got my tournament going,” Kim said. “It was just good, boring golf in a way.”
Stanford signee Will Macmillan had a great final meet as a Carrboro swimmer, taking part in three record-setting performances at the 2A swimming and diving championships. Macmillan shaved more than 7 seconds off his season’s best and won the men’s 200 freestyle championship with a NCHSAA-record time of 1:36.99. He also set a 2A record in winning the 100 butterfly in 48.26 seconds.
And MacMillan helped set another 2A record along with Simon Deshusses, Jack Dozier and Caleb Bollenbacher in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Their time of 3:12.49 broke the record 3:13.15 set by Carrboro in 2015. Macmillan, Deshusses, Myles Miller and Dozier also won the 200 medley relay.
Doubled: Chapel Hill continue to win at the state level with two separate championships on Feb. 12. Led by Anna Passannante’s title in the 1000 meters, Chapel Hill’s women’s team won its first-ever state indoor track championship at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. Its men’s swimming team won its third consecutive NCHSAA 3A state championship crown at the Triangle Aquatics Center.
The CHHS female swimmers took home the state runner-up plaque, led by Notre Dame recruit Claire DeSelm’s win in the 100 butterfly (56.32) for the third year in a row
Chapel Hill’s men won only one individual event: the 200-freestyle relay with C.J. Eron, Ang Li, Jordan Ren and Elie Rose. Ren, a sophomore, also finished third in the 200 IM (1:53.07) and third in the 100 breast (59.97). He also was on the runner-up 400 free relay (3:17.19).
“We had depth, so we’re not too surprised (to win),” Ren said at the time. “I was excited when we won the 200 free relay. We knew those were important team points.”
Another state championship wasn’t in the cards for Chapel Hill’s women’s basketball team. With Autumn West and Mariah Jacobs as the only regulars left from Chapel Hill’s 2014 undefeated state champions, the Tigers still won a piece of the Big-8 championship for a sixth straight year.
Déjà vu: The Jaguars capped the year with a strong spring, winning a doubles title in tennis and a second straight state championship in women’s soccer.
And, in outdoor track and field, Carrboro’s Magnus Herweyer repeated as the NCHSAA 2A champion in both shot put and discus.
Like Chapel Hill in Big-8 tennis, Carrboro breezed undefeated through its Mid-State Conference tennis schedule, but then ran afoul of undefeated N.C. Science & Math in the 2A East Region final.
Undaunted, Brian Freiburghouse and Jason Wykoff took the NCHSAA state individual 2A doubles title by losing only a single set in the championship round. They won the state final with a 6-2, 6-3 victory against Spencer Storey and David Derrick from Salisbury.
Carrboro closed out the year with its third women’s soccer state championship since 2012.
For the second straight year, Carrboro defeated Forbush by a goal in overtime – this time on a score by ninth-grader Alex Wojnovich for a 1-0 victory.
Said Wojnovich: “I was crying tears of joy out there at the end.”