The Cleveland and Chapel Hill girls track and field teams flirted with the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A state team lead, but the Triangle schools settled for second and fourth place, respectively.
Cleveland took an early lead early in Friday’s all-day meet at Aggie Stadium on the North Carolina A&T campus on the strength of hurdler Syndi Fields sweeping the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles.
“We were ranked to win, but we had a couple of things go wrong in some races,” said Fields, a senior bound for Appalachian State. “But I’m still very proud of my team. I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
Fields won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.98 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 44.59. The other individual to score for the Rams was junior Cassidy McNierney in the long jump at 17 feet, 7 ¼ inches. Fields, who also received the meet’s Sportsmanship Award, placed fifth in 200 (25.40) to add two team points, but only the top four places were earned medals.
In the relays, the Rams’ 4x200 team placed second in 1:41.94 and their 4x100 team was second in 48.37.
Cleveland led until the 200 meters, the third to last event, when East Guilford’s won the 200 to overtake the Rams. Eastern Guilford finished with 58 points, Cleveland 47, West Carteret 45 and Chapel Hill 42.
Chapel Hill made a late charge on the strength of its distance runners. The Tigers already had collected two state titles earlier in the school year in 3A cross country and 3A indoor track.
“Our goal was the team title; we wanted a three-peat,” said Chapel Hill senior Marija Cook, who was fourth in the 3,200 in 11 minutes, 24.73 seconds. “But we ran into some teams that had too many sprinters.”
Chapel Hill was led by sophomore Katherine Dokholyan placing second in the 1,600 (5:00.95) and third in the 3,200 (11:24.14).
Dokholyan set a personal record in the 1,600 despite a tightly packed and fast field. She led the first three laps with three girls a step or two behind her, but they came up on her with four girls jostling for position in two lanes at the start of the last lap.
Dokholyan needed a burst in the final 20 meters to move from fourth place to finish second.
“It’s a little disappointing to not get first, but I’m very happy with my time,” she said. “This is the state meet, and I just had to give it all I had at the end.”
Chapel Hill senior Anna Passannante added a second in the 800 in 2:13.84 and the Tigers’ 4x800 relay was third.
STATE MEET RECORD
The only other Triangle athlete to bring home a state title was Northwood junior Tessa Sheets in the pole vault. She won with a 3A meet record of 12-1, although she won the 4A East Regional a week ago with a personal record of 13-0.
“I’m satisfied with the state title, even though I wanted to get 13 feet again,” Sheets said. “I’m happy with my season.”
Her overall satisfaction stems from bouncing back from disappointment a year ago. She boasted the leading 3A mark entering the 2015 state final at 11-3, but she struggled and failed to medal, placing fifth at 10-0.
“It was a good learning experience for me,” she said. “I don’t think I’d have done what I did this year without learning from defeats.”
Southern Nash had a pair of state champions with Nadir Thompson winning the 200 (21.55) and Jaquay Mitchell taking the triple jump (47-9.5). Rocky Mount’s Sherrod Greene won the boys shot put with his throw of 55-11.5.
Nash Central’s girls won the 4-by-400 relay (4:03.00) and were third in the 4-by-100 and 4-by-200.
North Vance’s Mya Daye won the girls 100 in 12.06 and was second in the 200 in 24.61.
RISING ORANGE STAR
Orange’s Morgan Paschall took another leap toward establishing his name as one to watch for the next three years. The 6-foot-1 freshman tied for second in the state high jump. The mark was a modest 6-2, but he cleared 6-6 earlier in the year.
“I could have performed better, but I’m only a freshman so I have plenty of time to keep moving forward,” said Paschall, a JV running back in football and JV guard in basketball with goals of playing all three varsity sports next year. “I have to keep getting stronger.”
He added he recognized the value of experience.
“I learned people take this meet a lot more seriously,” Paschall said. “I wasn’t ready mentally. I’ve got to learn from my mistakes and move on.”
Other medalists were Cleveland senior Lawsom Lamm with a fourth in the boys 800 (1:57.33) and Cedar Ridge junior Alyxandra Ransom was fourth in the high jump (5-2).
Nash Central’s Michaela Nelms placed fourth in the 400 at 59.13. J.F. Webb’s Mia Terry was fourth in the girls shot put at 38-9.75 and Fike’s Alex Williams was fourth on the boys’ side at 53-1.75.
Lee County’s Richard Kersey was third in the boys 100 (10.83) and Orange’s Jamar Davis was fourth in the triple jump (44-3.5).
Hunt’s Zachary Farmer was runner-up in the boys discus (159-6).