A career that almost never happened closed in climactic fashion for Bunn’s Tainasha Vines at Saturday’s Class 2-A State Track and Field Championships.
Vines was playing softball at Bunn as a freshman before joining the track program on an uncertain – and supposedly temporary – whim, mainly to help her school accumulate depth points at the annual Franklin County Track Meet.
“A coach and one of the athletes talked me into taking part in the county meet,’’ Vines said. “I wasn’t really sure about it, but I ended up doing so well that I stuck with it. If it hadn’t been for that day, I would probably still be on the softball team. I wouldn’t be her right now.’’
Four years later, Vines exits as one of Bunn’s all-time most decorated state-level athletes. She capped off her career at the states Saturday by winning the triple jump for the third consecutive time at Aggie Stadium on the campus of N.C. A&T. Vines was unable to defend last season’s long jump crown, and instead settled for third place. Once that event ended, Vines wasn’t about to be denied in the triple jump later in the day.
“It would have been nice to get first in the long jump, but I did my best and had my best jump of the year,’’ Vines said. “But it would have been really disappointing not to win the triple jump. I love that event – that’s my baby. If I could pick anything to win, that would have been it.’’
When the final results were tabulated, Vines had picked up her fourth overall career state title with a leap of 38-08.75. The next time she jumps in competitive fashion, it will be as a member of the North Carolina track and field squad. She signed with the Tar Heels last November.
“Just before my last jump, it hit me that this was the end of everything in high school for me,’’ Vines said. “It’s hard to believe. Now, I have to go to college and train even harder because that is a whole other level.’’
Also a basketball and volleyball standout at Bunn, Vines was recently selected as the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Female Athlete of the Year.
Another repeat champion at the states was Carrboro’s Maysa Araba, who defended her titles in the 800 and 1,500 in record-breaking fashion. Araba set 2-A marks in both events and shattered the record she set last year in the 800 with an impressive time of 2:15.18. She also broke a seven-year-old mark in the 1,500 with an effort of 4:55.78 and was the female MVP.
Carrboro has a tradition of producing high-level distance runners, and that trend continued Saturday as Araba swept two events, while Helen Morken used a final-turn push to take the 3,200 with a time of 11:24.70. Morken trailed West Stokes’ Kaitlyn Stone before taking the lead for good with less than 150 meters remaining.
Carrboro’s solid distance work helped the Lady Jaguars earn 66 points for second place in the team standings behind Burlington Cummings (72).
In the boys standings, North Brunswick was the champion at 53 points. Bunn, fueled by its strong group of sprinters, was second at 37 points.
But the day’s biggest winner was North Johnston sophomore Dylan Pinder, who swept wheelchair events in the shot put, discus, 100 and 200.
Pinder registered personal bests in each event and nabbed titles in the discus and shot put on his sixth and final throw. Pinder was a state champ as a ninth-grader in the 100 and 200 but doubled his medals total this time around.
“The most amazing thing is that Dylan has had a tough year physically,’’ said North Johnston coach Jason Wilson. “He was sick at the start of track season and missed a lot of school. Then he had his wisdom teeth removed. So really, he’s only been able to practice full-time for the past two weeks. He did a great job of getting into shape.’’
With three medals already in tow, Pinder sped around the track in the 200 to a standing ovation from the crowd.
“This is one of the best days of my life,’’ Pinder said. “(After being sick), I knew it was going to be hard to come back. But I just had to get out there and try to overcome it.’’