Chapel Hill continued its dominance of the Big 8 conference track and field championships, sweeping the boys’ and girls’ titles for the second year in a row and the fourth time in the last five years.
The Tigers girls’ team ran away with the conference meet at Durham County Stadium, delayed by rain until Friday, beating runner-up Northwood 207-93.5.
The boys’ team won for the fifth year in a row, but the 2016 title came down to the last several events. The Tigers trailed much of the meet before winning three of the final four running events to beat second-place Cedar Ridge 151.5-118.
“It was touch-and-go for a while because we had some injuries,” Chapel Hill coach Joan Nesbit Mabe said. “People really stepped up, and it was exciting to see some of the young kids step into these places where we needed them badly. We did not think we were going to win it about halfway through the meet, but it feels great to win again.”
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Chapel Hill boys won five running races and the pole vault. The Tigers began its late run by finishing 1-2 in the 800-meter run, with Daniel Kleissler winning and Max Blackburn finishing second.
Track MVP Harrison Young then won the 200 and watched as Zach Allen, Eric Vanderford and Nat Romaine finished 2-3-4 in the 3,200-meter run before Young anchored the winning 1,600-meter relay.
More than eight hours after the meet began, Young found out he had won MVP honors in his final Big 8 meet.
“It tops the charts, honestly, going out,” Young said. “Right now, we’re five-peat team conference champions, and that was my first goal coming into this, just to say we’ve won every year I’ve been here. That’s awesome, and to be MVP is just a cherry on top.”
And while Nesbit Made deflected praise to her athletes, Young said his coach is crucial to the Tigers’ success.
“She’s been amazing,” Young said. “Ever since our old coach retired my sophomore year, she’s stepped up. Coming from the college scene, she really knows how to handle a team of this caliber, and she’s been able to handle it perfectly.”
Southern Durham finished third with 96 points, while Orange rebounded from a last-place finish a year ago to finish fourth. Northwood was fifth.
Jamar Davis from Orange win the triple jump and long jump, while teammate Montee Mitchell won the 110 hurdles and 100-meter dash.
The Chapel Hill girls’ team won for the fourth time in the last five years, only coming up short in 2014.
The Tigers won eight events: 3,200 relay (Milly Adams, Madeleine Mount-Cors, Maggie Springer and Joy Stouffer), 100 hurdles (Scout Hayashi), 1,600 (Katharine Dokholyan), 400 relay, 800 (Clare McNamara led a 1-2-3 sweep), 3,200 (Marija Crook), 1,600 relay (Erica Johnson, McNamara, Jessi Szymczak and Dokholyan), high jump (Aja Holloman tied with Webb’s Ajani Johnson) and Quaniece Fish (long jump).
“We are so strong across every event,” Nesbit Mabe said. “Erica Johnson stepped and had an amazing meet in her senior year. I gave her five minutes to jump in on the opening leg of the 4x100 for us. She was a big light for us.”
Nesbit Mabe’s “superstar” runner, Anna Passannante, couldn’t make the meet, but Dokholyan “jumped into that high-pressure anchor leg and split a 61 (in the 1,600 relay) after dominating the mile. She had a great day.”
Mya Daye of Northern Vance had a good day, too, winning the 100, 200 and 400.
Cedar Ridge (87.25) finished third, with Orange (64.25) fourth and J.F. Webb (47) fifth.