The 4x400-meter relay has been called the most exciting event in track and field. That was certainly the case at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A championships on Saturday at Irwin Belk Stadium on the campus of North Carolina A&T.
Southeast Raleigh’s girls (89 points) pulled ahead of Wakefield (82), which needed to finish at least four spots ahead of Southeast to end the Wolverines’ title streak at three.
Knightdale’s boys (68 points) wrapped up their fourth straight championship and broke a record that had stood for 26 years.
Relays: Knightdale’s finish in the boys’ 4x400 took out a record set by Hillside that had stood since 1987. The Knights, who also claimed the 4x800 (7:46.19), are ranked No. 1 in the nation in the 4x400.
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Junior Marquavious Johnson ran the anchor leg, while senior Bernard Freeman and juniors Marcell Johnson and Henry Kiedy ran the others.
“It’s a blessing to run with these guys,” Marquavious Johnson said. “Before the race we were hyping up each other to try and break the record.”
Southeast Raleigh’s boys ran second to the Knights in the 4x400 at 3:17.98.
Wakefield’s girls looked as though they had set a new state record in the 4x100, but the team was disqualified after it was discovered that one of the handoffs took place outside of their lane. The 10 lost points proved crucial when Southeast, who finished second in the 4x100, entered the final event with a four-point lead on the Wolverines.
Any chance of Wakefield winning by a large enough margin was wiped out when Southeast’s Tametrius Morrison ran the anchor leg to help the Bulldogs take the second. “(It was) overwhelming joy,” Morrison said.
Winston-Salem Parkland set girls’ state records in the 4x200 (1:37.83), where West Johnston finished second (1:40.57).
Tenney Smith, Teri Strickland, Tori Strickland and Jasmine Dawson teamed on the Wildcats’ 800 relay team. “We went from not being a known school to something major,” Dawson said. West also took fifth in the girls’ 4x100.
Southeast’s girls were third in the 4x800 and the boys were sixth.
Clayton placed eighth in the girls 4x400.
Sprints: The Triangle held court in the fastest girls events.
West Johnston’s Jasmine Dawson won the 100 (11.70), Wakefield’s Tyra Lea won the 200 (23.95), Wakefield’s Tiana Patillo (55.46) won the 400, Clayton’s Mollie Williams won the 110 hurdles (13.98) and Southeast’s Morrison won the 300 hurdles (42.72).
Lea and Patillo came in second and third in the 100, but Dawson held on.
“It’s incredible. I could cry, but it’s tears of joy because I’m just blessed,” Dawson said. “I’ve been running track since freshman year and never really had the chance to stand out or anything. I never really had the chance to stand out.”
Southeast’s Shakinah Brooks was fourth in the 100 and Garner’s Nyah Hines finished seventh in the 100 hurdles.
Wakefield’s JeMay Ward was third behind Patillo in the 400. Patillo was named girls’ MVP.
Williams, who had a slow start, repeated as champion.
“It was really a lot of pressure, to finish it strong,” said Williams, who will run at South Carolina next year. “My mom told me to go out and just ‘be little old Mollie from when you were 5 years old, and run.’ ”“I was so nervous I couldn’t even – like I heard the starter say ‘set’ and I was like, ‘set? What?’ And then (the gun fired) and I was like ‘Oh! Mollie run!’ ”
Williams also ran fifth in the 300 hurdles.
On the boys’ side, Marquavious Johnson took the 400 (47.16), while Southeast’s Jamaree Murray was second and Apex’s Jalen Ware was fourth.
West Johnston’s Xavier Carter was third in the 110 hurdles (14.65) while Garner’s Nyheim Hines was third in the 300 hurdles (38.28).
“I’ve been working hard since indoor track,” Carter said. “I PR’d and my PR before that was like a 14.80.”
Carter was glad to put West on the map for a non-distance event.
“It feels amazing because it’s like a foundation. We have a lot of faster guys that are freshmen and sophomores and I’m going to help them get through so we can start winning some sprinting events,” Carter said.
Hines was in one of the closest boys’ races of the day.
“I got lane six and all the fast people were to the inside of me so I just kind of had to take it out really hard in the first 100,” Hines said. “The guy who won, he was in my regional and I beat him, so I guess he must’ve been saving something because he came out of nowhere.”
Jumps: Southeast showed its strength in the jumps.
Southeast’s Shakinah Brooks won the long jump (19-5). Also for the Bulldogs, Alexis Williamson was second (38-6 1/2) and Amara Bell was third (38-0) in the triple jump. Bell was also fifth in the high jump (5-4), the highest finish of any Triangle girl. Williamson also took fifth in the long jump.
Clayton’s Kristen Duncan finished fifth in the pole vault (10-6).
The Triangle swept the boys’ side.
Hillside freshman Marcus Krah won the long jump (23-1), Apex’s Joe DeVries won the pole vault (14-0), Knightdale’s Kimani Hoffman won the triple jump (46-8) and Harnett Central’s Jesse Freeman won the high jump (6-6).
Southeast’s Justin Morris was fourth in the triple jump.
Throws: Though East Chapel Hill’s John Beyle came into the meet as the top-rated boy in the shot put, Southern Durham’s Jalen Peterkin surprised with a new personal record and state championship throw (59-6).
“It feels amazing. Last year I came up short by about an inch short to John, and that was really my motivation for the day,” Peterkin said.
Beyle was third in the shot (57-0 3/4) and second in the discus (169-11).
Southern Durham’s Regene Watson was fourth in the girls’ shot (40-4 1/4) while Apex’s Brianna Heilsnis was second in the discus (136-0).
Sharmani Hall and Hassana Clark were sixth and seventh, respectively for Southeast’s girls in the discus.
Distance: West Johnston’s Becca Meshaw took ninth in the 3,200.
On the boys’ side, Knightdale’s Corey Aikens was fourth in the 800 while Cary’s Bakri Abushouk was second in the 1,600.
Other team scores: Knightdale had a coaching change at midseason when David Castell stepped down. The team gave Castell, who won the first three titles with the Knights, much of the credit.
“That was a big blow for us. But we had the mindset of ‘All right, we’ve got to get past that,’ ” Hoffman said. “He’s been an amazing asset to our team. He has created our work ethic and who we are. He’s always been there for us.”
East Chapel Hill (34) was fourth in boys, while Southeast (25) was seventh.
Apex and Broughton’s girls were part of a three-way tie for fourth with 35 points. West Johnston (29) was ninth and Clayton (20) was tied for 10th.