The challenges came – the ones on other teams and the ones they gave themselves – for Wakefield’s girls and Knightdale’s boys track and field teams on Saturday. Both squads met those challenges for the second year in a row, defending their matching 4A state track and field team championships at the Irwin Belk Track on the campus of N.C. A&T University.
Winston-Salem Reagan’s distance runners pushed Knightdale’s boys, while Wakefield’s familiar standouts added a few future stars into the mix and turned back West Mecklenburg. The Knights finished with 67 points to Winston-Salem Reagan’s 38 on the day.
Wakefield’s girls finished with 60 points to runner-up West Mecklenburg’s 35. Durham Jordan, led by girls meet MVP Alexis Perry, was third with 34 points.
Ariah Graham won the 400 individually in 55.14 seconds for Wakefield and ran on the winning 4x400 relay team with Tiana Patillo, Tyra Lea and freshman Je’May Ward. That quartet set a new state record in 3:47.72.
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“That’s our record,” Graham said, referring to her team’s hold on the 4x400-meter relay state record, which she helped previously set in 2010. “We wanted to get back on top with that record and that’s exactly what we got.”
Patillo put the Wolverines ahead from the start, making up the stagger within the first 200 meters of her opening leg.
“I just wanted to come out and bounce back from my 400,” Patillo said of her run in the individual 400. “I didn’t do as well as I could have there. So I knew I really had to get out strong and help our team out in this race.”
Perry took state titles in the high jump (5-8) and the long jump (18-5) and was the runner-up in the 100 hurdles. She also ran on Jordan’s eighth-place 4x100 relay team.
“It was tough to keep my focus, going back and forth between the two events (the high jump and long jump competitions were going on at the same time),” Perry said. “I just tried to keep my focus on my technique and conditioning and not think too much about distances or heights. Just hit my marks and jump like I could.”
Broughton won the girls 4x800 in 9:11.48. Sophomore Megan Sullivan ran her anchor leg in approximately 2:09. Kyndal Boykin, Alison Berger and Mattie Blue joined Sullivan on the win.
Apex standout sprinter Alexis Murphy entered the 100 dash just looking to have a good time in her words on Saturday. She won with a personal best run of 11.66.
“I just thought about it as a confidence builder to help me get ready for the 200,” Murphy said. “I was just looking to have a good time in that race. It was a great surprise.”
Murphy won the 200 (23.96) as well, edging a game Tyler Brockington of Greensboro Dudley who pushed the pace in the final 50 meters only to be turned back by Murphy.
Millbrook’s Samantha George won the 1,600 in 4:51.54 and was the runner-up in the 3,200.
Knightdale quartets won the 4x100 and 4x400 relays. Kimani Hoffman, Marquavious Johnson, Da’Quan Smalls and Joseph Horton took the 4x100 in 41.93, while their 4x400 group of Henry Kiedy, Khalid Powell, Myles White and Johnson ended the meet, fittingly, with a Knightdale event victory.
“They’re a battle-tested team,” said Knightdale coach David Prince-Castell said of his squad.
“Some things go the way you envision them on these days, others don’t. You’ve just got to be ready to compete and our guys did that.”
Horton took the 200 state title in 21.03. “I was just trying to do a good job of getting off of the curve well,” Horton said.
A bonus for the Knights was the third place finish in the 4x800 relay from Corey Aikens, Henry Kiedy, Jalen Scott and Myles White.
Broughton’s Harrison Booth won the pole vault state title at 14-6, one of three competitors to clear that height. Caps’ teammate Sam Roberson dominated the boys 3,200 in 9:20.73. He led by more than 50 meters for most of the race before slowing at the end. West Johnston’s Jeremy Gower came on strong to take the runner-up spot at the end.
Enloe finished third in the boys team standings with 37 points, paced by its winning 4x200 relay team of Dominique Faison, Jonathan Addison, Brandon Mangham and Fabian Jarrett. The all-senior quartet finished in 1:26.61.
Addison won the high jump at 6-8, bouncing back from what was a disappointing third place finish for him in the long jump. “I really pushed myself in the high jump and it paid off,” Addison said.
Fabian Jarrett finished second in the 200 for Enloe as well.
Southeast Raleigh standout jumper Jaylon Holt had to make change his plant foot in the triple jump at last week’s regionals because of a foot injury. He did it again Saturday and still was the state’s best in the triple jump at 47-3 1/2.
“I didn’t know if it would work last week when I tried it,” Holt said of changing his plant foot. “But it made it work. It was a challenge.”
Wake Forest-Rolesville wheelchair athlete Matthew McDonald took home four medals. He posted career bests in the 100 (29.38) and 200 (1:09.86) and had better throws than Winston-Salem Mount Tabor’s Ty Ruvolis in both the discus and shot put.
“Getting my ‘P.R.’ in the 100 and 200 was my big goal, but I got the wins in the shot and discus as well, which is what you come here to do,” McDonald said.
Southeast Raleigh’s Deja Barbour had a career best in the girls 100 wheelchair as well (41.04) and competed in the shot put.