The N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A Mideast Regional track and field meet turned out to be much more than an area championship on Saturday at Green Hope High.
Enough elite individual and team performances were recorded to consider it a preview of the NCHSAA 4A state championship meet set for Friday at N.C. A&T in Greensboro.
Southeast Raleigh’s girls warmed up for defending their state title by running away with the Mideast title. The Bulldogs scored 120 points to Panther Creek’s 80.
Panther Creek’s boys are still a contender to add the state outdoor title to the state indoor crown they won last winter despite finishing second to Cary’s surprise team victory.
GIRLS TEAM CHAMPS
Southeast Raleigh’s girls advanced 13 athletes in 10 of the 18 events. The lineup boasts elite talent ranked among the state leaders as well as depth. Counting two relay victories, the Bulldogs placed 14 times. That’s 14 chances to score at the state meet.
Sophomore Sierra Fletcher enjoyed the best day with wins in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles that rank Nos. 1-2 in the state. Her mark of 13.97 seconds in the 100 hurdles beat the previous top state mark; her 43.94 in the 300 hurdles ranks second.
Fletcher also ran legs on the winning 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams. The Bulldogs lead the state in the 400 relay at 46.35 and are fourth in the 1,600 relay at 3:55.00.
“I’ve been trying to get down into the 13s all season,” Fletcher said of the 100 hurdles. “My coaches have set me up well for the state meet.”
Sophomore Kyna Robinson won the 400 (55.70) to break 56 for the first time this year to rank third in the state. She also was second in the 200 (24.44) and ran legs on the 400 and 1,600 relays.
In the throw events, the Bulldogs advanced three girls with five places. Senior Candice Whitely was second in the shot put and discus, senior Courtney Murph third in the shot and fourth in the discus and senior Tameia Morrison third in the discus.
“That’s very important; every point matters,” Robinson said. “We don’t win without them last year.”
BOYS TEAM CHAMPS
The regional team scoring went down to the final race that Cary won over Panther Creek. Cary finished with 78.5 points to Panther Creek’s 74. If the schools had reversed positions in the 1,600 relay, the Catamounts would have beaten the Imps, 76.5 to 76.
Cary’s victory was led by senior Elijah Knight, who swept the 110-high hurdles (14.57) and 300-intermediate hurdles (38.65) and ran the anchor leg on the 1,600-relay team.
“We knew we had to win the relay,” Knight said. “We were able to get a lot of athletes from other sports to come out for the team this year to make a difference.”
But Panther Creek is better positioned to contend for the state title with senior J Johnson in the sprints and long jump. Johnson, who remains the state leader in the 100 and among the leaders in the 200 and long jump, won the 100 in 10.62, the 200 in 21.91, the long at 22 feet, 9 inches and ran the anchor leg on the winning 400-relay team (42.43).
Johnson recently tweaked his hamstring and ran for team points rather than times. He’s hoping treatment will have him ready for the state meet. But Justin Smalls’ ankle injury during the week did cost the Catamounts’ team points. Smalls’ points were crucial to Panther Creek’s indoor team title.
Wakefield junior Veronica Fraley, the state leader in the discus, swept the shot put (42-10¾) and the discus (138-6). Teammates Tayler Grier (100, 11.79), and Taylor Scott (200, 24.17) split winning the two short sprint events.
Another double winner was Green Hope sophomore Alessandra Rodriguez in the 800 (2:18.74) and the 1,600 (5:11.69).
Other gold medalists were Sanderson sophomore Lila Peters, 3,200, 11:21.97; Panther Creek freshman Morgan Smalls, high jump, 5-9; East Wake senior Mikieja Covington, long jump, 18-3¼; and Garner senior Chardonei Sutton, triple jump, 37-8.
Rolesville senior Christian Pigues won the 800 in 1:54.95 to post one of the more impressive state-level marks at the Mideast meet.
Other boys winners on the track were Middle Creek junior Jalen Herring, 400, 49.57; Green Hope junior Finn McBride, 1,600, 4:22.68; Apex senior Ben Savino, 3,200, 9:19.02.
In the field events, Apex Friendship junior Omar McBride won the first regional title for the two-year-old school with a triple jump victory (46-2). Other winners Athens Drive senior Khadeavis Snead, high jump, 6-4; Broughton senior Doug Scott, pole vault, 14-0; Rolesville senior Uzuku Ossai Jones, shot put, 49-9¾; and Millbrook senior Larry Rountree III, discus, 147-8.