Neither Southern Durham’s boys nor Nash Central’s girls entered Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A indoor track and field championships with a team title on the mind.
But the finish line wasn’t as far as they thought.
Both teams finished third, ranking the highest of anyone in the greater Triangle.
A pair of Union County teams, the Cuthbertson girls and Marvin Ridge boys, won team titles. Cuthbertson’s 71 points were ahead of West Carteret’s 54 and Nash Central’s 44. Chapel Hill was sixth, Cleveland ninth and Rocky Mount 10th.
Michaela Nelms won the girls 300 (40.64) and Carisha Leonard took the 500 (1:17.81).
“I didn’t think I was going to win because this was only my third time (running it),” Leonard said. “I still don’t have any words for the race.”
Nelms, Myia Spivey, Teona Hill and T’Keyah Macklin won the 4-by-200 relay (1:46.61), but the Bulldogs’ highlight came by breaking their own 3A state record in the 4-by-400 (4:07.43) thanks to Nelms, Macklin, Leonard and Hill.
Spivey (also fifth in the high jump) and Nelms were surprised at their successes less than 24 hours removed from playing almost every minute of a regular-season finale basketball game.
“Being that we were coming out of a basketball game I didn’t think my legs were quite ready, but we ended up pulling it off and we’re really excited,” Nelms said.
Marvin Ridge’s 57 points were comfortably ahead of Jacksonville’s 38, with Southern Durham not far behind with 36.
Southern had depth in a number of events but only had one individual champion: Marcus McDonald in the triple jump (44 feet, 9 inches). He was also fourth in the long jump.
“After all the hard work it finally paid off,” said McDonald, who will play football next fall at UNC-Pembroke. “It was a lot of hard work; practices in every condition. It seemed like we were the only ones practicing over winter break.
Khaleb McRae was Southern’s only runner-up, finishing second in the 500 (1:07.24).
GOLD AND SILVER
Rocky Mount swept the shot put titles with two athletes who had just played basketball games the night before. South Carolina football recruit Sherrod Greene won the boys’ title (55 feet, 3 3/4 inches) while Keyanna Spivey won the girls’ (37 feet, 7 1/4 inches).
N.C. State football recruit Nadir Thompson won the boys 300 (34.78). Thompson added a third-place finish in the 55 dash.
J.F. Webb’s Josh Lester-Harris claimed a photo-finish victory in the boys’ 55 dash (6.43), edging Northwood’s Cameron Council (6.44).
Northwood’s Tessa Sheets continued her almost two-year dominance of the girls pole vault. The Purdue recruit topped 12 feet, 7 inches, which was more than 2 1/2 feet taller than her next-best challenger.
Chapel Hill junior Katherine Dokholyan was tops in the girls 1,600 (5:09.05) and fourth in the 3,200.
Austin Carroll became the first track champion from Corinth Holders – male or female, indoor or outdoor – by claiming the boys’ 1,600 (4:22.35). He was also fourth in the 1,000.
Corinth Holders’ Samara Gibson was nearly the second, but took runner-up to Nelms in the girls 300.
Cleveland’s Gable Dershem edged twin brother Wyatt for runner-up in the boys 3,200.
ON THE PODIUM
Third-place: J.F. Webb’s Mia Terry (girls shot put); Southern Nash’s Nadir Thompson (boys 55 dash); Chapel Hill’s Megan Marvin (girls 500); Southern Durham’s Montrel Cooper (boys 500); Cleveland’s Wyatt Dershem (boys 3,200); Chapel Hill girls 4-by-400 relay.
Fourth-place: Rocky Mount’s Brittany Beckford (girls high jump); Southern Durham’s Marcus McDonald (boys long jump); Cleveland’s Ciara Robinson (girls triple jump); Southern Durham’s Derek Gibbons (boys triple jump); South Johnston’s Noah Bridges (boys 55 dash); Cleveland girls 4-by-200 relay; Chapel Hill’s Maeve Gualtieri-Reed (girls 1,600); Corinth Holders’ Austin Carroll (boys 1,000); Chapel Hill’s Katherine Dokholyan (11:45.92).