Garner Cleveland: Sports

South Johnston senior takes third in state on her birthday

Cleveland’s Cassidy McNierney competes in the long jump.
Cleveland’s Cassidy McNierney competes in the long jump. PHOTOS BY DEAN STRICKLAND

South Johnston senior ChyAnn Ketchum knows how to go out and celebrate her birthday.

Ketchum, a senior, finished a career best third in the girls shot put competition at the NCHSAA 3A indoor track and field championships Friday, her 18th birthday.

Ketchum’s finish led a strong group of Johnston County girls entries.

“I came out throwing pretty well and I was seeded fourth, so getting on the medal stand on my birthday is really great,” Ketchum said. “My last throw was my longest and my best. It’s great to finish my indoor career on the medal stand.”

It was Ketchum’s third straight appearance in a state indoor championship meet.

South’s Savannah Creed set a personal best height of 10 feet in the pole vault. That gave the junior standout a fourth place finish in the state and a spot on the medal stand.

“I am very proud of the two of them and am pleased with the way we finished our season,” said South coach Megan Jones, whose girls team finished 13th in the state team rankings on the strength of the efforts of Creed and Ketchum.

Corinth Holders’ Arden Vessie finished fourth in the state in the 1,600 meters (5:18.05), the best finish notched by the Pirates’ four entries into individual events.

The 55-meter dash was a showcase of Johnston County talent with three runners finishing in the state’s top 10, led by Cleveland junior Tiandra Jenkins who was fifth in 7.42 seconds. Smithfield-Selma freshman Tiana Bannerman was 10th (7.59) and Essence Scott of Corinth Holders was 11th.

Scott competed in three events despite still battling a lingering knee injury. She was 12th in the long jump (14 feet, 10 inches) and also ninth in the triple jump (32-4 ½).

Senior Marie Pickett of Corinth Holders took sixth in the 55-meter hurdles (9.12) and grabbed 12th in the high jump (4-8).

Kayla St. Marie gave the Pirates a 13th place finish in the 1,600 meters (5:39.34).

“I am so proud of these athletes,” said Corinth Holders coach Peter Clark. “They are true champions, and have been so year in and year out, for Corinth Holders. We’re looking forward to the spring season.”

Cleveland senior Cassidy McNierney was 13th in the long jump at 14-7.

Audrey Massengill of South Johnston qualified for the state finals in the shot put but stayed back home to play in South’s girls basketball win over Western Harnett. The Trojans lead the Two Rivers 3A basketball race.

North Johnston senior Gregory Bryant finished seventh in the state on Saturday in the 1A/2A state championship meet. Bryant had a leap of 40-3 ½.