Broughton sprinter Caleb Gabriel was able to go all out for the first time this season on Saturday. And that worked out just fine for Gabriel and the Caps’ track and field team.
Gabriel, a senior who had been rehabbing a left hamstring injury that he suffered in the state indoor meet, won the 100- and 200-meter dash and helped the Caps to a first place in the 4x200 relay and a second place in the 4x100 relay as Broughton repeated as the boys’ Cap Eight champion in the meet held at Sanderson.
The Caps totaled 134 points, finishing 47 points ahead of Wake Forest-Rolesville (87 points). Millbrook was third with 75 points.
Wakefield’s girls, the four-time N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 4A state champions, cruised to their first conference title. In recent years, the Wolverines had sent their elite athletes to the Penn Relays, a national meet held on the same weekend as the conference meet.
This year, the Wolverines skipped the Penn Relays and rolled up 223 points with its full squad at the meet. Tyra Lea led the way with four first-place finishes, winning the 100, 200 and triple jump and running on the Wolverines’ winning 4x200 relay team.
Sanderson totaled 115 points to edge Broughton (113) for second place.
For Gabriel, who repeated as the 100 and 200 champion, it was a tough spring season. But he was rewarded on Saturday at the conference meet.
“It feels good,” said Gabriel, who is headed to N.C. A&T on a track scholarship. “I’m just glad I was able to get back. I didn’t think I was going to get back at one point.”
Gabriel nosed out Wake Forest-Rolesville’s Petey Williams in the 100 meters. Both runners were timed in 10.92 seconds but the finish-line camera showed that Gabriel had edged out the second-place finisher. His victory in the 200 was more convincing, with Gabriel taking the lead from the beginning and winning with a time of 22.14 seconds. Williams was second at 22.32.
“I think the 200 is my best event,” Gabriel said. “Today I just got ahead of him and stayed ahead of him. That was my plan. I didn’t want to push it too hard because it was late in the meet. Everything feels great.”
The senior had been rehabbing his hamstring and running in meets, but had not really pushed it until Saturday. Still, Broughton coach David Christian said, Gabriel had been an integral part of the team’s success.
“He has been patient, been a great leader and worked really hard,” Christian said. “All of that culminated today with three fantastic wins and a second-place which pushed us up into that team championship, which is what it is all about.”
The Caps also got a triple in the distance events from junior William Roberson, who won the 1,600 and 3,200 and was on the Caps’ winning 4x800 relay team.
“He ran in our 4x800 and then came back in the mile and two-mile, which is a very difficult double,” Christian said. “He did a superb job. Now everything is geared toward the two-mile at the state level.”
Roberson continued a family tradition. Last year, he finished second in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter events at the conference meet to his brother Sam, who is running at N.C. State this year.
The Caps went 1-2-4 in the 3,200, with Roberson kicking ahead off teammate Asher Smith-Rose on the final lap. Roberson ran the event in 9:45.29, two seconds ahead of Smith-Rose.
Roberson won the 1,600 in 4:19.90. Heritage’s Grant Rodgers was second in 4:21.46.
The Caps also got a victory from John Dalton Rohr in the 800.
Wakefield’s Caleb Conwell won the high jump and long jump and Wolverines teammate Elijah Mallory doubled up in the shot put and discus. Enloe’s Dominick Patterson won both the 100 and 300 hurdles.
Wakefield’s girls can thank the prom in part for their first Cap Eight title. With the prom set for the same day as the conference meet this year, coach Ann Graham elected to have the team run in the Florida Relays this season and keep her elite athletes home for the conference meet.
For Lea, who is one of three Wakefield girls who will be going to N.C. State on track scholarships, getting a Cap Eight title was a nice way to finish up her conference career.
Lea won the 100 in 12.14 seconds, finishing nearly two-tenths of a second ahead of teammate Tiana Patillo. Lee (24.39) and Patillo (24.93) also went 1-2 in the 200 and teammate JeMay Ward was third.
Patillo (56.26) and Ward (56.37) finished 1-2 in the 400 and the Wolverines won three of four relay races.
Sanderson’s Shellbi Chapman won both the 100 and 300 hurdles and Broughton’s Mattie Blue doubled up in the 800 and 3,200.