Saturday was a perfect day for the Cardinal Gibbons Wake County Polar Bear track and field meet. Perfectly named, as it turned out.
Athletes from 17 schools competed in frigid conditions outdoors at the Gibbons High football stadium. Temperatures hovered in the mid-30s with a slight breeze knocking out any effect from the bright sunshine. Wind chills were in the 20s and blankets, winter coats and hats and layers of clothes were order of the day.
Bailey White of Apex summed it up in a few words as she huddled with some teammates near midfield of the football field.
“I’ve never been this cold in my life,” she said. White, a sophomore who competed in the 1,600-meter event, was waiting to watch the 3,200-meter run.
It was that kind of day, but the athletes braved the elements to compete, running indoor distances in preparation for the state indoor championships scheduled for Feb. 8 in Winston-Salem. They stayed bundled up until getting ready to compete, some running in shorts and tank tops. Others wore long leggings and an occasional pair gloves were seen, but the hardy athletes were not going to weigh themselves down with too much clothing.
For some, it was another chance to post qualifying times for the state indoor. Others already qualified were hoping to improve with the state meet less than a month away.
Broughton’s Therius Styles needed a qualifying time in the 55-meter dash. And he got it, winning the event in 6.3 seconds. Styles, a senior, also won the 300-meter run in 35.8 seconds, going 2-for-2 for the day. He had already posted a qualifying time in the 300.
“I felt good for the most part,” Styles said. “But with the cold weather, I thought I could have gone a little bit faster (indoors). I have competed here before so I knew exactly what I was up against.”
Senior Brad Pehr of Green Hope also put up a hot time on the cold day, winning the 1,000-meter run in 2:36.2. He had hoped to break the school mark in the event, and he did – besting the time of 2:37.16 turned in by Scott Hefner in 2008.
“The wind on the front stretch was pretty brutal,” Pehr said. “You kind of had to tuck in. I like running indoors, especially for the (1,000) because this thing gets out so much like an 800 (meter run) but it’s not. It messes with your mind when you have to run two and a half laps.”
Indoor tracks are 200 meters, half the distance of 400-meter outdoor tracks.
Staying warm is important, but getting stretched out and loose on a cold day like Saturday is paramount to avoid injury.
“You try to keep your sweats on as long as possible,” Pehr said. “You have to stay warm after the warm-up. That is the most important part.”
Broughton’s boys had a good day in the event in which no team scores were compiled.
In addition to Styles’ two victories, the Caps won four other events.
The Caps finished 1-2 in the 1,600 with John Dalton Rohr first in 4:37.5 and Peter Millsaps second in 4:38.4. Broughton took the first three spots in the 3,200, with William Roberson (9:49.6) finishing ahead of Jeremy Brown and Asher Smith-Rose.
Broughton’s Chris Hodge won the 55-meter hurdles in 7.8 seconds and the Caps took first in the 4X800 relay in 8:21.3.
Other boys winners were Enloe’s Dominick Patterson in the 500 (1:08.4) and triple jump (42 feet, 2 inches), Wakefield in the 4x400 relay, Leesville Road’s Joe Talbert in the high jump (6-2), Apex’s Jireh Kamuabo in the long jump (20-6½), Wakefield’s Elijah Mallory in the shot put (49-5) and Apex’s Joe Devries in the pole vault (13-6).
In the girls competition, Sanderson’s Chapman sisters had a good day.
Sophomore Shellbi Chapman won the 300 in 4.18 seconds and sister Imani, a junior, won the triple jump in 34-4. They teamed up to help Sanderson win the 4x400 relay. Shellbi also ran on Sanderson’s third-place finisher in the 4x800 relay.
“It’s so hard to get loose, so hard,” Shellbi Chapman said. “When you sit down (after one event), your muscles get tight. Then you have to get loose again. You just try to stay warm. I didn’t care about winning. I just wanted to get better.”
Wakefield, which won the last three girls indoor state championships, used the event to help some athletes post indoor qualifying marks. Coach Ann Graham held out some of her athletes who had already posted qualifying marks.
“Our goals right now is trying to see how we can fill the holes,” Graham said. “We have a young team and we have some people who have not qualified who can qualify.”
Wakefield freshman Lauren Monroe reached that goal Saturday with a qualifying time in the 1,600, finishing third in 5:29.4.
Millbrook won four girls events and Leesville Road three.
Millbrook got wins from Kayla Steward in the 55-meter hurdles (8.8), Cameron Pryor in the 55 (7.7), Gloria Gonde in the shot put (29-2) and Paige Plaskonos in the pole vault (9-6).
The 55 was a dead heat, with Wakefield’s Dasia Sanders and Broughton’s Belle Paylor also timed in 7.7 seconds.
Leesville Road took first in the 4x800 relay, the 1,600 (Nevada Mareno in 5:21.1) and the 500 (G’Jasmyne Butler in 1:20.8).
Middle Creek got victories from Katie Nelson in the high jump (5-2) and Shannon Mcleod in the long jump (16-1½).
Mary Grace Doggett of host Cardinal Gibbons won the 3,200 in 11:47.5 and Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass took first in the 1,000 in 3:08.8.