As usual, Saturday was a memorable day for Wake County entries in the NCHSAA 4A track and field championships at N.C. A&T State University.
The Southwest Wake Athletic Conference claimed 11 event victories and two top-three finishes in the girls team standings. Athletes from the Cap Eight, Greater Neuse River and Pac Six also wore state championship gold before the day ended.
Winston-Salem Parkland repeated as girls team champion. Cary finished second and Apex was third. Charlotte Mallard Creek took the boys title, ahead of Durham Hillside (second) and Southeast Raleigh (third).
Apex standout Sydnei Murphy won two state championships, the triple and long jumps, and was named the girls meet MVP. She had a leap of 20 feet, 3 inches in the long and went 40 feet and three-quarters of an inch in the triple. The long jump stood out to her.
“I’ve been trying to hit 20 feet all year and I did it here in my final state meet,” Murphy said. “It was a great day.”
Murphy was third in the 100 meters at 11.61 seconds, a personal best. All eight runners in the field finished in under 12 seconds.
“During the race you don’t realize where people are,” Murphy said. “I knew everybody was close together. It was the most fun race I’ve ever run in, running against great friends who I don’t get to see that much.”
Murphy also took third in the 200 (24.03).
Elly Henes came into the state championship meet with gold medals – from the state indoor meet and as the cross country individual state champion – already in her possession, but her wins Saturday in the 1,600 and the 3,200 were different.
“I’ve always considered myself an outdoor track person, it’s been my favorite,” Henes said after she took the 1,600 in 4:58.84 and the 3,200 in a state record time of 10:39.47. “So these are a little different …
“The first lap (in the 1,600) was a little slow but I picked it up and kept the pace where I wanted it to be.”
Anna Eaton of Apex finished her high school career with her third state pole vault championship, but left Aggie Stadium still chasing that elusive 13 foot, 6-inch mark. Eaton cleared 12-6 to win the competition but couldn’t get over the bar at 13 feet.
“I’m really thankful that I’ve got the wins, but it’s really frustrating still because I’ve cleared 13-6 so many times in practice,” Eaton said. “I just can’t hit it at a meet.”
Holly Springs Daniel Ligons told himself as the shot put finals began that he was in good shape, but he needed to relax and focus on having the perfect form. He showed that stellar form in his first throw, posting the put that would win him a state title. One (57 feet, eight inches) that was two feet better than his previous best.
“I was in the lead the whole day after my first throw,” Ligons said. “During the first flight I had the best group of three throws I’ve ever had in my life.”
Middle Creek’s Terrell Adams made it a Southwest Wake Athletic Conference sweep of the boys throws with a toss of 165-1 in the discus. East Chapel Hill’s Iyin Battle was second.
State championships were also claimed by Cary’s girls 3,200 relay team which ran the seventh-fastest time in the nation this year (9:14.55), Durham Jordan’s Jordyn Brown who repeated as state high jump champion (5-6), Sanderson’s Emmanuel Jackson in the 110 boys hurdles (13.7) and Durham Hillside’s McKinly Brown in the boys 300 hurdles at 37.1 seconds.
It was Cary’s second straight state title in the 3,200. Julia Brown, Sarah Hoffert, Sarah Venable and Lakiesha Warner ran for Cary. Venable just started running the relay during the indoor season.
“I’m just trying to fill the shoes of others and keep the tradition going,” Venable said. “I didn’t expect to start the third leg with the lead that I got but Sarah (Hoffert) just killed it with her second leg to give us a huge lead. I just wanted to keep us ahead.”
Tough week of practice leads to title: Southeast Raleigh survived last weekend’s brutal and challenging Mideast Regional meet so the Bulldogs’ 3,200 relay team thought Monday would bring an easy practice day.
“Normally, a Monday after a regional meet it’s a cool down day,” said Southeast’s Terrence Adams, who ran the opening leg. “But our coaches had other ideas, Monday was a tough day and we didn’t tone down the intensity until Thursday.”
It paid off in gold. Adams, Khalil Gary, Briana Ananaba and Jason Putman won the state title in 7:55.01.
The Bulldogs also took the 1,600 relay boys title with Ryan Adams, Ananaba, Adam Douglas and Dominic Foy running a 3:20.33.
Headwind no problem for Brown: Jamie Brown of Knightdale picked a great day to have his most consistent long jump outing of the year. He posted multiple jumps over 22 feet, winning the state title at 22-11.
“It wasn’t the day to be going for a big jump because we were going into a big headwind all day,” Brown said. “I just tried to be consistent. I really wanted to get a state championship. It’s a great way to end my high school career.”
Butler just runs to 800 title: Leesville Road’s G’Jasmyne Butler had her strategy all planned out as she got ready for the 800. Then her coach came up to deliver a simple message: “Just run.”
Butler did just that, reeling off a state record time of 2:11.07.
“I didn’t come in thinking about a record or even knowing what the record was,” Butler said. “But knowing I broke it now, it really shows how much I’ve grown as a runner since the start of the season.”
Butler also took third in the 1,600.
Practice pays off for Bass: Wake Forest senior Christian Bass knew all week that he wouldn’t be in an ideal position in the boys 200, running from the seventh lane. But Bass worked that lane all week to prep for the race. “I knew I would just have to keep pushing through,” he said.
Bass found enough juice down the stretch to edge by Cap Eight rival Dylan Peeples of Wakefield. Bass took the state title in 21.24 seconds.
Nine adaptive state championships: Triangle athletes also brought home nine adaptive state championships. Cara King of Apex won the girls discus, shot and 200, while Durham Hillside’s Desmond Jackson took the above-knee amputee 100, 200 and 400 runs on the boys’ side. Broughton’s Omar Sanchez was a three-time winner as well. He took the wheelchair discus, the 100 and the 200. Southeast Raleigh’s Jordan Maddox won the wheelchair shot put.
Silver Medalists: Second place finishers in the state from the Triangle area also included Zoe Early of Apex (girls pole vault), Drew Pedersen of Apex (boys pole vault), Jonte Leaston of Millbrook (boys high jump), Marcus Krah of Durham Hillside (110 hurdles), Iyin Battle of East Chapel Hill (boys discus), Layla White of Cary (girls 400), Lakeisha Warner of Cary (girls 300 hurdles), Dominick Patterson of Enloe (boys 300 hurdles), Jeremy Brown of Broughton (boys 3,200), Southeast Raleigh’s 1,600 girls relay and Cary’s 800-meter girls relay.
Bronze Medalists: Taking third place finishes home were a slew of area athletes including Hasana Clark of Southeast Raleigh (girls shot put), K’Lynn Beal of Broughton (girls triple jump), Taylor Sutton of Garner (girls high jump), Hannah Dunston of Knightdale (girls long jump), Breanne Bygrave of Wakefield (girls 100 hurdles), Julia Brown of Cary (girls 800) and Wakefield’s 400 girls relay.
Also, Michael Utecht of Apex (boys pole vault), Tyri Beard of Wake Forest (boys 100), Henry Pehr of Green Hope (boys 1,600) and Krah (boys triple jump).