Cleveland has dominated Two Rivers 3A track & field for as long as the young conference has been around.
And absolutely nothing happened to change that on Wednesday.
Most valuable player Sydni Fields won three individual events and ran a relay leg to lead the girls’ team to victory by more than 100 points, while Lawson Lamm and Delancey Starkes each took an individual event and ran on two victorious relays to lead the Ram boys to a closer, but still comfortable, win.
It was Cleveland’s fifth straight conference title in girls’ competition and fourth straight in boys’ action.
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South Johnston’s Fabian McDonald won the long jump (21-6½) and both the 100 (11.0) and 200 (22.4) to take boys’ MVP honors.
The girls’ team dominated the weights, jumps, hurdles and short sprints to amass 272 points to 155½ by Johnston county rival Corinth Holders, which was first in every other girls’ event. Western Harnett finished with 56½ points followed by South Johnston 22, Triton 21 and Smithfield-Selma 11.
Cleveland used its depth to beat Triton 157-119 in the boys’ competition, followed by Corinth Holders at 101, South Johnston 85, Smithfield-Selma 56, and Western Harnett 35.
“Everyone we were counting on performed well,” Cleveland coach Joe Capps said. “It’s been a very steady season and we’ve been consistent the whole time. I wasn’t surprised we were today.”
The senior Fields won the MVP award in the girls’ competition by taking the 100 low hurdles in 16.9 seconds, the 300 intermediate hurdles in 48.0, the 200 in 25.0 and running a leg of the winning 4-by-200.
“I was pretty excited about this meet,” said Fields, who is bound for Appalachian State in the fall. “It was my last home meet and my last conference meet and I just wanted to have fun. Now I’m focused on the regionals and the states.”
Cassidy McNierney won the long jump (17-4) and triple jump (35-0½) for the Rams, also running a leg of the winning 4x100. The Rams’ Naelee Stone won the 100 in 12.6 and also ran legs on the 4-by-100 and victorious 4-by-200.
The other Cleveland girls’ wins were from Jessica Cullins, who ran the 1600 in 5:41.3; Amber Scott, who put the shot 32 feet, 6 inches; Wallace Driggers, with a 96-foot discus throw; and Ciara Robinson, with a high jump of 5 feet, 4 inches.
Corinth Holders’ Cameron Rutherford won the 800 in 2:28, while Samara Gibson took the 400 in 1:01 and Kayla Alznauer the 3200 in 12:31.9. Rutherford also ran legs on the winning 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 relays, while Gibson ran anchor on the 4-by-400 while Alznauer led off the 4-by-800. Olivia Bargoil had the winning pole vault at 7-0.
“I was really pretty pumped,” said Rutherford, who is headed for UNC Asheville. “I had been training for four events and wanted to make sure the 4-by-400 was good. That’s the first 4-by-400 we’ve ever won. Cleveland usually blows us away.”
For the Cleveland boys, Lamm ran 1:59.2 for the 800 victory and also ran legs on the winning 4-by-400 and 4-by-800. Starkes went 41 feet, 3 inches in the triple jump and was also on the 4-by-400 team and victorious 4-by-200 team. Wanye Alfred won the 110 hurdles in 15.2 seconds. Noah Pipes anchored the 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 relays.
South had five individual boys’ victories, as Jacob Gonzalez won the 1600 in 4:26.8 and the 3200 in 9:54.70. Smithfield-Selma claimed two as Josh Faison threw the discus 134 feet, 5 inches and Russell Holder took the 400 in 50.8 seconds, while Corinth Holders’ Andrew Bugge took the pole vault in 9 feet, 6 inches.
“I came out here to win and that’s pretty much what I did,” McDonald said. “I stretched good, felt real loose at the starting line and stayed relaxed through the events.”