On a muggy day when points mattered more than times, Cardinal Gibbons got off to a fast start and got two first-place finishes from Mary Grace Doggett and Kayla Gandy to win the girls’ title at the Big Eight Conference championship meet Thursday. Chapel Hill won the boys’ championship, powered by two wins from Collin Vilen.
Kacia Vines of Cedar Ridge was the biggest individual winner of the day, winning four girls' events: the long jump (17 feet, 10 inches); the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches); the 200 meters (25.6 seconds) and the 400 meters (1:00.15).
"She just added the 400 and the high jump this year, so she was a nice surprise for us today," said Cedar Ridge coach Jennifer Pepin, who doubled as the meet director Thursday.
Mia Terry of Oxford Webb won two girls' events: the discus (86 feet, 3 inches) and shot put (30 feet, 8.75 inches).
Other double-winners for the boys in the championship meet included Jonathan Hall of meet host Cedar Ridge (110 hurdles, 300 hurdles) and Imoh Udoh of Pittsboro Northwood (200, long jump). Both of Hall's first places were ties; both he and Orange's Monte Mitchell finished the 300 hurdles in 43.7 seconds, and he tied Jeffrey Jones of Northern Vance in the 110 hurdles at 16.18 seconds.
Helped by wins from its girls' 4x100, 4x200 and 4x800 relays, Cardinal Gibbons won the girls' title by a large margin. The Crusaders amassed 178 points to the 106.5 for runner-up Chapel Hill, which was led by wins from Anna Passannante (800 meters) and Quinece Fish (triple jump).
Oxford Webb’s girls were third with 95 points, followed by Cedar Ridge (75.5), Northwood (44), Orange (39), Northern Vance (15) and Southern Durham (9).
Alex Council earned the lone first place for Northwood's girls, winning the 100 meters in 12.19 seconds.
Chapel Hill's boys needed both of Vilen’s top finishes in the 1600 meters (5:32.5) and the 3200 meters (9:59.2) to get 121 points and fight off runner-up Cedar Ridge (100).
The Tigers were helped by Albert Nyamayaro's win in the high jump (6 feet, 0 inches), while Cedar Ridge got field wins from Harvon Allison with the shot (41 feet, 5 inches) and Alex Ives with the discus (147 feet, 9 inches). Northwood also had two winners in field events — Darius Cole in the triple jump (42.0 feet) and Jack Maynard in the pole vault (11.0 feet).
Northern Vance (82) and Northwood (80.5) took third and fourth, respectively, in the boys standings with 81 points, followed by Cardinal Gibbons (56), Webb (45), Orange (44.5) and Southern Durham (29).
Webb's top victory in the boys' meet came from Khalil Brown who won the 400 meters in 51.8 seconds and help the Warriors win the 4x200 relay. Brown's victory brought him 180 degrees from last year, when a late-season injury ruined his chances in the conference meet despite his No. 1 seed time.
Southern got most of its points from its state-championship-winning football players like highly recruited running back William Cameron, whose 10.5 seconds in the 100 dash eked out Tyrrick (10.6) and Tamaj Bullock (10.8) of Northern Vance. Southern also got points from second places by quarterback Kendall Hinton (high jump) and defensive back Darryl Smith (long jump).
Neither of Vilen’s winning times were anywhere close to his personal bests this season. He’s never liked running in the middle of the week, and he said a strong headwind on the last turn didn’t help.
“I ran here to get the wins, not the times,” Vilen said. “We came here with the intention of winning the team championship, and we pulled it off.”
Like Vilen, Doggett won both her 1600 meters (5:11.24) and 3200 meters (11.18.1) with times well off her personal bests.
“This wasn’t our fastest day,” Gibbons head coach Nick Mangum said. “But when you come to a meet like this, it’s not about times. It’s about points and the team title.”
The Gibbons girls dominated from the start, winning five of the meet’s first six events. That began with a win in the 4x800 (10:33), followed by Gandy’s win in the 100 hurdles (15.15 seconds). Gibbons also won the 4x200 and 4x100 relays, sandwiched around Doggett’s win in the 1600.
Sofia San Miguel won the girls' pole vault (10-0) and Gandy took first in the 300 hurdles (47.08 seconds) to help Gibbons open up a 17-point lead after eight events. By the time Dogget won the 3200, the girls’ title was sealed.