Wakefield girls track coach Ann Graham and Southeast Raleigh boys coach Liz Peartree Gray may have both pushed just the right motivational buttons as their squads captured the big trophies at the 2014 Wake County Championships held at Athens Drive High School last weekend.
Graham questioned her team’s effort in the event a year ago, but was very pleased with the perfomances this year. The Wolverines totaled 103 points to finish ahead of Southeast Raleigh (98.5), Cary (80) and Sanderson (72).
“Everybody stepped up today for us,” Graham said. “I told them we don’t want to get too content. You have to work for it, train for it, and then come out and compete.”
Nobody competed any better than Wakefield senior Ama-Seline Tchume, who will run track at Virginia Tech next year. She won the 100 meters, the 200, and the long jump and was on the winning 4x100 relay team, along with Destiny Robinson, Dasia Sanders, and Breanne Bygrave.
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Gary noted the last time Southeast’s boys won the title was 2009. Southeast gathered 93 points to finish ahead of Garner (76), Apex (72), and Broughton (59).
“My assistant coach, Robert Williams, talked to the 4x800 team about setting the tone,” Gray said. “A strong start would get everybody hyped up. They got us going and we got the title and some confidence to carry into the rest of the season.”
The Bulldogs relay team of Khalil Gray, Robert Williams, Jayquan Williams, and David Conner won the first running event. Other Bulldogs firsts came in the 400 by Jamaree Murray and the 4x400 relay by Jayon Woodard, Murray, Elijah Reid, and Conner.
Knightdale’s boys team, which has won the the last three state 4A track and field championships and the last four indoor titles, was missing some top performers, but that just gave opportunities to others, according to coach Chris Miller.
“Corey Aikens and the rest of this team is the hardest-working group of kids I’ve ever seen,” said Miller.
The Knightdale boys (30.5 team points) finished 9th and East Wake (19) in 12th.
The Knights’ Aikens won the boys 800-meter run in 1:55.98. Jamie Brown took second in the boys long jump (21-4.75) and third with a high jump of 6 feet.
The Warriors’ Damontay Rhem claimed first in the boys discus throw at a distance of 147 feet, 5 inches. His teammate Charleston High took fifth in the triple jump (42-7).
The Knightdale girls (28 team points) placed 11th in the meet, and East Wake (8) was 15th.
Mariah Ballen gave the Knights a first-place finish in the girls high jump (5-3) and was third in the triple jump (35-5). Her teammate Hannah Dunston was fourth in the girls 300-meter hurdles (48.03) and fifth in the long jump (15-5.5).
East Wake’s Ashley Morris was fifth in the discus with a throw of 86 feet, 11 inches.
Cary’s girls had a strong showing by capturing three relays, the 4x200, 4x400, and 4x800. Also, Layla White won the 400.
“It was a very good day,” Cary coach Jerry Dotson said. “We set not only school records but also meet records in the 4x8 and 4x2.”
On the boys side, Broughton senior Therius Styles proved to be the fastest in both the 100 and 200 and he hopes to do the same at the state meet.
“Just reaching the states would be a blessing, but my goal is to win both events,” said Styles, who won the 100 in this meet last year and will run at Coastal Carolina next year.
Leesville senior Carson Ellerby had two impressive seconds, finishing just a stride or so behind two of the top runners in the state in Broughton’s Will Roberson in the 1600 and Knightdale’s Corey Aikens in the 800.
“I wanted to pass (Roberson) at the end, but he’s a tough guy,” said Ellerby who will run for Charlotte next year. “That’s the closest I’ve come to him and I’m looking forward to the next meet.”