The venue and the format changed for this year’s Tri-Nine Conference track and field championships – but not the champions.
Apex’s girls and Cary’s boys each won their third straight Tri-Nine title Thursday, which was the second day of the event hosted by Middle Creek High School. The previous two years were all-day Saturday events hosted by Athens Drive.
But familiarity was hard to come by for the medalists in most Tri-Nine events. Only nine of the 34 individual event winners were repeaters.
Apex’s Alexis Murphy won three events, earning the fourth conference MVP of her career.
After winning the field MVP last year, Murphy earned the track MVP as she won the 100-meter dash, 200-meter dash and 300-meter hurdles, the senior now holds 11 track championships in her three years with the Cougars. The South Carolina recruit also won two conference title as a freshman at Holly Springs, earning her MVP status when the Golden Hawks were in the Greater Neuse River Conference.
“It never gets old,” said Murphy. “This year I dropped down to three events but tried something new with the 300 hurdles, so to get a win and that and in my regular events, it felt really good.”
The Cougars also boasted the field MVP of the meet with Aliya Ruffin, who won the triple jump and tied Holly Springs’ Kiara Leslie for the high jump title. The Cougars got more titles from its 4-by-100 relay, Brianna Heilsnis (discus) and Tiffany Finley (shot put). Apex’s 191 points topped runner-up Green Hope’s 132and was well ahead of third-place Middle Creek (70), fourth-place Cary (69) and fifth-place Panther Creek (57).
Cary’s boys were more than dominant in their quest for a three-peat. The Imps won seven events, including four field events: pole vault (Phillip Thomas), long jump (Chuboy Umeadi), triple jump (Umeadi) and discus (Lennie Paul). Cary’s other wins came in the 4-by-800 relay, 100-meter dash (Darrell Sheppard) and 200-meter dash (Sheppard).
The Imps’ 168.5 points almost doubled runner-up Apex (87.5), who was followed closely by Fuquay-Varina (80), Athens Drive (79) and Holly Springs (67).
“Even though last year it was the same thing, but I would like to say it all comes from hard and dedication,” said Sheppard, who defended his two titles from a year ago. “It didn’t come easily, and running is my desire and passion.” “I also really appreciate my teammates, because we’re all around that same level and they push me. I’m grateful to have the team that we have.”
The boys MVP of the field events was Athens Drive’s Lamar Nobles, a repeat high jump champion. The track MVP was Fuquay’s Brian Davis, who had a thrilling 10-minute span to end the meet.
Davis had won the 400-meter dash before running the anchor leg on Fuquay’s first-place finish in the 4-by-400 relay, the final event, then minutes later was announced as MVP.
Though Davis – also the meet’s 400-meter dash champ – has run national meets, he was thrilled to get the local recognition.
“This is the highlight (of my career). I’ve never had anything like this happen,” he said. “It feels like I’m finally being recognized for all the other things that I do,” he said.
Athens’ Kevin Vincent defended his hurdling titles from a year ago, winning the 110- and 300-meter hurdles. Panther Creek’s Jacob Sears won the 1600- and 3200-meter runs.
Rounding out boys winners were: Lee’s Peter West (shot put), Fuquay’s Clay Jones (800-meter run), the Holly Springs 4-by-200 relay and Athens’ 4-by-100 relay.
On the girls’ side, Green Hope’s Rayna Yvars was a champ in two events. Yvars, a junior, proved she’s gifted at leaping over things by taking home the pole vault and defending her 100-meter hurdle title.
“My coaches ask me why I choose to jump over anything I can,” Yvars said.
Other girls winners included Panther Creek’s Rebekah Greengrass (1600-meter run), Athens Drive’s Brianne Boldrin (800-meter run), Green Hope’s Erica Amatori (3200-meter run), Cary’s Layla White (400-meter dash), Fuquay-Varina’s Jhane Davis (long jump),the Fuquay-Varina 4-by-200 relay and Cary’s 4-by-400 and 4-by-800 relays.
The best of the Tri-Nine will be competing this Saturday as Green Hope High hosts the 4A Mideast regional. The other conferences competing in the all-day event are the Cap-8 and the PAC-6.