One year removed from a second-place performance, the East Chapel Hill boys track and field team returned to the Orange County championships on Saturday and won, topping second-place Chapel Hill by four points thanks to strong performances from its distance runners.
In the girls’ championships, Chapel Hill dominated, posting 159 points, 99 points higher than second-place Carrboro (60).
For East Chapel Hill’s Steve Marquis, Saturday’s meet was one of his proudest moments as a coach. Much of that had to do with the way seniors James Gildard, Ethan Ready and Connor McDonald ran.
“A-plus leadership,” Marquis said of his seniors. “It’s one thing to say ‘I’m a captain or I’m a senior,’ but it’s another thing to be a 100-percent leader and they were fantastic.”
Never miss a local story.
In the 1,600 meters, Gildard came in first (4:29.06) with Ready right behind him (4:30.21). East also had the top two finishers in the 800 meters as McDonald posted a winning time of 1:58.78 and Gildard finished second (2:01.72). Ready also finished first in the 3,200 meters (9:56.46).
Still, East carried only a two-point lead over Chapel Hill heading into the 4x400 relay, the day’s final event, and needed to finish strong, which it did. The Wildcats finished in second place to clinch the win.
“I think this victory is huge for the team,” Ready said. “This has been a meet that we’ve had circled on our calendar for the whole year thinking we could come in and win.”
The Chapel Hill girls team bookended a dominant performance with wins in the day’s first (4x800 relay) and final (4x400 relay) events.
Among the many successes for her team, Chapel Hill coach Joan Nesbit Mabe said she was particularly impressed with the way junior Aja Holloman and seniors Quaniece Fish and Anna Passannante competed. Fish recorded winning marks in both the long jump (16 feet, 4.75 inches) and the triple jump (34 feet, 10 inches). Meanwhile, Passannante ran away from the competition with a time of 2:15.62 in the 800 meters.
Holloman won events on the track and in the field as she finished first in the 100 meters (12.75 seconds) and the high jump (5-foot). In particular, she was happy with the way she ran in the 100 meters.
“I got out the blocks really well and just had a lot of confidence,” Holloman said.
Though pleased with the way Chapel Hill competed, Nesbit Mabe said her group was happy, but not completely satisfied.
“We want to win a third state title. We won cross country, indoor states and we want a triple crown,” Nesbit Mabe said.
While his team finished in third-place, Orange senior Montee Mitchell had arguably the most impressive individual performance, winning three events. Mitchell set new personal records in the 110 meter hurdles (14.78 seconds) and the 100 meters (10.81), while also winning the 300 meter hurdles (42.02).
“It feels really good to make a statement and to put myself ahead of the competition,” Mitchell said.
In the field, Carrboro senior Avery Jones stood out by winning both the girls discus (112 feet, 1 inch) and shot put (29 feet, 8.5 inches).
ORANGE COUNTY INVITATIONAL RESULTS
Boys team scores: 1, East Chapel Hill, 86. 2, Chapel Hill, 82. 3, Orange, 74. 4, Carrboro, 67. 5, Cedar Ridge, 63.
Boys event winners
100: Montee Mitchell, Orange, 10.81. 110 Hurdles: Montee Mitchell, Orange, 14.78. 200: Quinton Adams, Carrboro, 22.41. 300 Hurdles: Montee Mitchell, Orange, 42.02. 400: Harrison Young, Chapel Hill, 50.06. 800: Connor McDonald, East Chapel Hill, 1:58.78. 1600: James Gildard, East Chapel Hill, 4:29.06. 3200: Ethan Ready, East Chapel Hill, 9:56.46. 4x100: Carrboro, 43.33. 4x200: Carrboro, 1:29.93. 4x400: Carrboro, 3:26.71. 4x800: East Chapel Hill, 8:21.96. Discus: Magnus Herweyer, Carrboro, 164-09. High Jump: Albert Nyamayaro, Chapel Hill, 6-02. Long Jump: Morgan Paschall, Orange, 21-06.25. Pole Vault: Dillon Kopec, Chapel Hill, 12-06. Shot Put: Jeremy Cates, Cedar Ridge, 47-2.5. Triple Jump: Jamar Davis, Orange, 43-08.
Girls team scores: 1, Chapel Hill, 159. 2, Carrboro, 60. 3, East Chapel Hill, 56. 4, Orange, 49. 5, Cedar Ridge, 47.
Girls event winners
100: Aja Holloman, Chapel Hill, 12.75. 100 Hurdles: Scout Hayashi, Chapel Hill, 17.06. 200: Sivi Kizinga, East Chapel Hill, 26.59. 300 Hurdles: Erica Vickers, East Chapel Hill, 46.62. 3200: Simone Speizer, East Chapel Hill: 11:51.31. 400: Amy Carpenter, Carrboro, 1:00.24. 800: Anna Passannante, Chapel Hill, 2:15.62. 1600: Clare McNamara, Chapel Hill, 5:10.28. 4x100: Chapel Hill, 52.10. 4x200: Orange, 1:48.74. 4x400: Chapel Hill, 4:10.18. 4x800: Chapel Hill, 10:45.46. Discus: Avery Jones, Carrboro, 112-01. High Jump: Aja Holloman, Chapel Hill, 5-0. Long Jump: Quaniece Fish, Chapel Hill, 16-04.75. Pole Vault: Dana Davis, Cedar Ridge, 9-06. Shot Put: Avery Jones, Carrboro, 29-08.50. Triple Jump: Quaniece Fish, Chapel Hill, 34-10.