After nearly pulling off a surprising win at the NCHSAA 3A Track and Field Championships Friday evening in the rain, Corinth Holders standout Arden Vessie wasn’t overly disappointed with her runner-up finish. Instead she was thankful for her run in the longest event of the meet, the 3,200 meters.
Vessie nearly pulled off the upset with a time (10:52.31) that broke the previous state-meet record of 10:54.64. Vessie, a junior, pulled ahead of Asheville Reynolds’ Anna Vess in the final 15 meters, but Vess had one more surge in the final 10 meters to edge Vessie on the lean with a time of 10:52.18.
“I tried to stick with the top pack,” said Vessie, who was happy to break 11:00 for the first time. “I tried to make a move and then I tried to stick with it to the best of my ability. That was the closest race I’ve ever been in. It was cool to have someone push me to a time like that.
“I’m thankful she was in the race. She did an amazing job.”
The 3,200 was contested in the rain that had moved over the stadium for the meet’s final four events.
Cardinal Gibbons’ Mary Grace Doggett led the 3,200 most of the race in a tight pack with Vess and Vessie on her shoulders, but she said she didn’t have a kick to stay in front once Vess and Vessie made their move in the final 200 meters. Doggett finished third in 10:58.62.
Vessie was one of four Johnston County athletes who left the meet at N.C. A&T State University with a top-five finish in the state.
In the boys’ distance events, South Johnston’s Jacob Gonzalez was fourth in the 1,600 in 4:25.68. Cleveland’s Taiquan Dixon grabbed fifth in the boys 300 hurdles in 39.97. South Johnston’s Savannah Creed matched that finish in the girls pole vault, clearing 10 feet, six inches.
Area relay teams had a solid day in the state meet. Corinth Holders’ 800-meter relay grouping of Charday Ince-Walton, Essence Scott, Megan Chappell and Samara Gibson was eighth in the state at 1:46.6.
Other area relay teams making the field in the state meet were the Cleveland girls’ 1,600 relay team (14th place) and Corinth Holders’ 3,200 girls (16th).
Josh Carter of Cleveland was sixth in the triple jump (44-2) and added 12th place finishes in the long jump (19-9 ½) and the 110 hurdle prelims (15.5). Cleveland added two seventh place results in girls’ individual events: Sydni Fields in the 300 hurdles (47.39) and Tiandra Jenkins in the 100 (12.33). Fields was also 14th in the triple jump.
Dylan Caldwell of Cleveland took eighth in the discus (141-11) and was 11th in the shot put (45-10). Fellow Ram Blumenberg was 15th in the 800 (2:07.2).
Two local runners placed in the girls 200. Corinth Holders’ Gibson took eighth (25.76) and Smithfield-Selma’s Teona Bannerman took 11th (26.36). The Pirates’ Marie Picket took 11th in the 100 hurdle prelims.