Each session of the state indoor track and field championships at JDL Fast Track brought a championship story for the area. As Friday’s 1A/2A meet and Saturday’s 3A and 4A meets saw local entries walk away with a gold medal hanging around their neck.
Creed survives a lengthy pole vault battle: South Johnston’s Savannah Creed and Cardinal Gibbons’ Sofia San Miguel waged a battle of endurance in the girls pole vault finals. Both cleared 11 feet, but then missed on three attempts each at 11-6 and then 11-3. To break the tie they got one attempt each at 11 feet, then 10-9, then 10-6. Creed was able to clear at 10-6 for the gold.
“This is what I’ve worked so hard for four years,” Creed said. “I went from trying this not knowing what I was doing as a freshman, then doing everything I could to be the best I could. It’s all paid off today.”
Fatigue was a definite factor for both vaulters.
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“Everything on your body gets tired,” Creed said. “Your running like a sprinter, jumping as high as you can, then you still have to have the strength and agility of a gymnast to get over the top of the bar.”
North’s Pinder grabs gold again: Pinder won his second consecutive 55-meter wheelchair state title in 14.94 seconds at the 1A/2A state meet. The sophomore was a little more than a half-second off of his state record time set in the 2014 finals.
He jumped out to a quick lead in the three-man race, but wasn’t satisfied with his start.
“I usually do a little better but I felt like it was a good start,” Pinder said. “You come in with a goal of going faster than you ever have, but once you’re in the race it’s all about winning more than anything else.”
Pinder also took the silver in the wheelchair shot put at 11 feet, six inches. South Lenoir’s Bryce Floyd won by three-quarters of an inch.
Princeton ran 11th in the 3,200 boys relay. The Bulldogs finished in 9:01.15 with Jose Moreno, Hunter Mitchell, Justin Huber and Jose Aguillon banding together on the run.
Other area 3A meet highlights: Cleveland’s Tiandra Jenkins finished fourth in the girls 55-meter dash (7.43), as did Corinth Holders’ boys jumper Sadavion Dixon in the triple jump (42-5). Samara Gibson took fourth in the girls 500 with a personal best time of 1:21.79.
Dixon was also sixth in the long jump, where South Johnston’s Eric Bowles placed ninth.
Corinth Holders’ tandem of Kayla Ste. Marie, Hannah Canterbury, Rachel Strickland and Cameron Rutherford ran their best race ever, setting a school record with a time of 10 minutes, 21.38 seconds for a seventh place finish in the state.
Coming in, the Pirates’ quartet was seeded 15th meaning they had the 15th best qualifying time among the state championship qualifiers.
Rutherford also finished 10th in the state in the 3,200 individual championships.
Cleveland’s 3,200 boys relay team — Noah Pipes, Wyatt Dershem, Gable Dershem and Austin Blumenberg — finished sixth in the state (8:29.81). Austin Blumenberg was sixth individually in the boys 500 (1:08.18). Corinth Holders’ Bobby Beare took 14th in the 500.
Patrick Myers of Corinth Holders was ninth in the 3,200, Gable Dershem took 10th and Wyatt Dershem was 13th.
McNierney (10th in the long jump) and Fields (eighth in the 55 hurdles) had individual top 10 finishes.
Johnston County had two placers in the girls shot put (Alex Woodall of South Johnston in eighth and teammate Emma Blackmon in 11th) and the boys pole vault (Corinth Holders’ teammates Grant Sullivan in 10th and Dallas Vann in 13th).
Area 4A notables: Kyle Christ of West Johnston led the early stages of the boys 3,200 in the 4A championships before finishing sixth in 9:48.81. Clayton’s Alex Roy was seventh in the 1,600 (4:33.54), as was West’s Alex Porter in the shot (48-6).
Chris Perez of West Johnston finished eighth in the 1,000 at 2:37.32. Clayton’s Kennedy Thorne was 11th in the 300 (41.81) and 12th in the 55-meter hurdle prelims (8.7).
Rams live up to their high seeding: Cleveland’s girls 800 relay team rolled to a state championship in 1:49.78. They entered the meet as the No. 1 seeded relay quartet.
Syndi Fields put Cleveland comfortably in the lead after taking the first baton exchange from Imani Williams. The lead was up to 20 meters by the time Fields handed off to Cassidy McNierney. McNierney stretched the lead out eve more, giving Alyssa Rivera a comfortable margin for the anchor leg.
The only issue at that point was the time the Rams would log and Williams brought home a best of the season leg, completing a run of 1:49.78.
“Doing something like this depends so much on everybody contributing,” Williams said. “Everyone on the team had to come out and do their part and work together to make this happen.”
Even thought they came in with a qualifying time two seconds quicker than any other team, Cleveland’s quartet didn’t let overconfidence creep into their minds.
“It’s a really special feeling and what an experience to do this with these three girls,” McNierney said. “But you can’t think too much about times coming in because you don’t know for sure who you’re running against.”
Fields called the gold medal a gift and payment for all of the hard work the quartet had put in together.
Williams was thrilled with the win and ready to share the credit: “It’s just a blessing. … I’m just so thankful for my team and my coaches who allowed us to do this. It’s a special feeling.”