Each session of the state indoor track and field championships at JDL Fast Track brought a championship story for the area. As Friday’s 1A/2A meet and Saturday’s 3A and 4A meets saw local entries walk away with a gold medal hanging around their neck.
Rams live up to their high seeding: Cleveland’s girls 800 relay team rolled to a state championship in 1:49.78. They entered the meet as the No. 1 seeded relay quartet.
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 eve 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.
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“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.”
Even thought they came in with a qualifying time two seconds quicker than any other team, Cleveland’s quartet didn’t let overconfidence creep into their minds.
“It’s a really special feeling and what an experience to do this with these three girls,” McNierney said. “But you can’t think too much about times coming in because you don’t know for sure who you’re running against.”
Fields called the gold medal a gift and payment for all of the hard work the quartet had put in together.
Williams was thrilled with the win and ready to share the credit: “It’s just a blessing. … I’m just so thankful for my team and my coaches who allowed us to do this. It’s a special feeling.”
Hines grabs elusive state title ring, nipping Rowe: Garner sprinter Nyheim Hines, an N.C. State football recruit, edged another area running back (Clayton’s Rodney Rowe) to win the boys 55-meter dash state championship.
Hines finished in 6.28 seconds, 0.04 ahead of Rowe, who closed the gap at the end of the race, almost catching the Garner standout.
“Getting this state championship ring after not being able to get it in football is something I really wanted,” Hines said. “I’m going to need to rest my knee some before the fall, so I’m probably not going to run much of the outdoor season.
“I’m just glad I get to share an experience like this with my family.”
“It was a great race with Nyheim,” Rowe said. “He pushed me to run by best time of the year.”
Rowe started to close on Hines near the end of the race, but came up just short. “I’m at my best in the 60 or 100 meters,” he said. “I feel like I’m just reaching my top speed when I hit 50 meters or so.”
Rowe ran a 6.33 in prelims, 6.32 in finals.
Garner had a state silver medalist in Taylor Sutton in the high jump. The freshman cleared 5 feet, 4 inches for the state runner-up spot.
Other area 3A meet highlights: Cleveland’s Tiandra Jenkins finished fourth in the girls 55-meter dash (7.43), as did Corinth Holders’ boys jumper Sadavion Dixon in the triple jump (42-5). Samara Gibson took fourth in the girls 500 with a personal best time of 1:21.79.
Dixon was also sixth in the long jump, where South Johnston’s Eric Bowles placed ninth.
Corinth Holders’ tandem of Kayla Ste. Marie, Hannah Canterbury, Rachel Strickland and Cameron Rutherford ran their best race ever, setting a school record with a time of 10 minutes, 21.38 seconds for a seventh place finish in the state.
Coming in, the Pirates’ quartet was seeded 15th meaning they had the 15th best qualifying time among the state championship qualifiers.
Rutherford also finished 10th in the state in the 3,200 individual championships.
Cleveland’s 3,200 boys relay team — Noah Pipes, Wyatt Dershem, Gable Dershem and Austin Blumenberg — finished sixth in the state (8:29.81). Austin Blumenberg was sixth individually in the boys 500 (1:08.18). Corinth Holders’ Bobby Beare took 14th in the 500.
Patrick Myers of Corinth Holders was ninth in the 3,200, Gable Dershem took 10th and Wyatt Dershem was 13th.
McNierney (10th in the long jump) and Fields (eighth in the 55 hurdles) had individual top 10 finishes.
Johnston County had two placers in the girls shot put (Alex Woodall of South Johnston in eighth and teammate Emma Blackmon in 11th) and the boys pole vault (Corinth Holders’ teammates Grant Sullivan in 10th and Dallas Vann in 13th).
Area 4A notables: Clayton’s Kennedy Thorne was 11th in the 300 (41.81) and 12th in the 55-meter hurdle prelims (8.7).