Southeast Raleigh indoor track coach Elizabeth Gary said it had been too long since a state championship in track came back to the school.
The Bulldogs, she said, were due.
Just as Gary predicted, they cashed out in Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A state championship. The Southeast Raleigh girls claimed the title with 79 points, while Green Hope was second with 48. High Point Central came in third with 39 points. The Green Hope boys won the championship (49) over Mount Tabor (41) and Durham Hillside (33).
It was Southeast Raleigh’s 13th overall track title. The last time it won indoor was 2009, and on Saturday at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, the Bulldogs got a boost in the opening 4x800 meter relay win.
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“We weren’t supposed to win the 4x800 if you look at the standings. We were sitting in third,” Gary said. “At one point, the kids had concerns about whether they wanted to run it because they wanted to be fresh for the 500. State is not a time to give away points. If you subtract the 10 points we got from the relay, we still won the meet, but anything could have happened. I told them Thursday, ‘Look, we’re running the 4x800. At the end of the meet, if you guys are crawling off the track to leave the venue, then so be it.’
“This is what we train for.”
All season, the Southeast Raleigh girls’ relays have anchored the team. Gary said they ran its best 4x800 Saturday.
The Bulldogs, who swept the relay races, won the opening 4x800 meter relay in dominating fashion. They came in with a seed time of 9 minutes, 51.69 seconds, but used a 4A record-setting 9:32.83 to get the relay title.
In that race, Leesville Road took an early lead. The Broughton girls were close throughout and led Southeast until Aysa Macon shifted in front of the pack. Southeast’s third leg started several seconds before the trailing Broughton’s, and freshman anchor Rhoni Robinson focused to retain what the previous three runners built. She put so much force into her performance that she needed a trashcan after the race.
“I threw up. After all that work, I threw up but in the end, I think it was worth it,” Robinson said. “We had to focus (in that first relay). When your legs get tired, go to your arms. That’s basically what I was focusing on.”
The Bulldogs took first in the 4x200 relay with a 1:41.58 in front of Parkland and Wakefield.
The Southeast girls had two Top 3 finishes in the 500-meter race and got a contribution from Candice Whitely in the field events. She finished third (37-10) in the girls’ shotput.
“It’s really special for us, especially with everything we’ve been going through as a team and coming out on top,” Robinson said. “For me being a freshman, winning a state championship, that’s really something.”
Other individual champions included Millbrook’s Elijah Cole in the boys’ pole vault (16-00), Rolesville’s Lauren White – the first Rams state champion – in girls’ long jump (18-06.50), and Wakefield’s Breanne Bygrave in the 55-meter girls’ hurdles (7.29).
Hillside’s Marcus Krah picked up gold in the boys’ long jump (22-04.75), triple jump (47-01) and his specialized event at the 55-meter hurdles (7.29). He was named the boys’ MVP, while Green Hope’s Elly Hanes took MVP in the girls’ championship.
In the final relay event, the Southeast Raleigh team added to the already-clinched title with a 3:53.64 in the 4x400.
“It took a lot of hard work and practice,” Robinson said of the Bulldogs. “I think as a team, we’re good. We’re happy about it.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan