Mitch McLeod of Chapel Hill and South Johnston’s Whitney Williams each ended their stellar high school athletic careers on top of the medal stand. Meanwhile, Mary Grace Doggett of Cardinal Gibbons may be just getting started.
McLeod won the boys’ 3200-meter race for the second straight year, Williams dominated the girls’ shot put, and Doggett, a sophomore, beat a Carolina 6 Conference-dominated field to finish first in her 3200-meter race at the NCHSAA state 3A track meet May 18 at Aggie Stadium.
Both the top local girls’ teams were in contention for the title until the final event – the 4x400 relay – was over, whereas the boys’ meet was a blowout.
North Buncombe won the girls’ portion of the meet with 34 points with six other teams right behind. Cardinal Gibbons was in a three-way tie for third with 29 points; Chapel Hill finished in a two-way tie for sixth with 28.
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“I thought we were solid,” Gibbons coach Nick Mangum said. “We were happy with the 4x800 on the girls’ side. That was the fastest we’d run this year, and we had our best in the 4x400. Mary Grace is a sophomore with a bright future, and most of the girls we had here are coming back.”
In boys’ action, Charlotte’s Berry Academy scored 65 points to win a second-straight state title after winning the 2A event last season. The Cardinals finished with an 18-point margin over second-place Northern Guilford.
“Mitch ran well, and that was hard today because of the wind,” said veteran Chapel Hill coach Ron Olsen. “You always look back and see the things you missed out on. We missed three or four and were still in the hunt. All our girls are back next year, and I told them this was their dress rehearsal. This was a good day.”
McLeod, who will run for Appalachian State in the fall, ran the 3200 in 9:38.13.
“My race went OK,” said McLeod, who was third in the state cross-country meet in the fall. “I just wanted to stay with whoever was in front and either go with three left or kick for it and I just decided to kick. I felt fast before the race. I just wanted to make sure I had finished strong.”
Williams, who was second in the shot last year, won the shot at 38 feet, 9 3/4 inches, with Southern Nash’s Sarah Johnson second at 36 feet, 4 1/4. Williams, who has gone over 41 feet, said she got angry at herself when her first put was under 35 feet, and she followed it with the four best attempts of the competition before scratching on the final put.
“I was really upset after the first one, but I hadn’t run (a wind sprint) before that one,” said Williams, an all-Eastern Carolina Conference competitor in softball, basketball and volleyball who will play basketball at Norfolk State next season. “I wasn’t that happy with that 38, but it’ll work.”
Doggett, a sophomore, ran 11:21.84, escaping second-place Tristin Van Ord of Chapel Hill (11:25.85), with Gibbons teammate Rachel Bartolomeo fourth in 11:34.76.
“I decided to kick on the sixth lap,” Doggett said. “I just felt so blessed to be able to train and race with such amazing runners. We push each other a lot.”
Chapel Hill had the runners-up in both 800 races, with Alexa Young running 2:18.65 in the girls’ race to 2:16.03 by West Carteret’s Blake Dodge; and Chris Reeder turning a 1:57.24 in the boys’ race to 1:54.48 from West Carteret’s John Crossley.
Gibbons’ 4x800 girls’ relay team of Bartolomeo, Lauren Velasco, Megan Cuomo and Samiiah Wilson finished third in 9:40.83, with Marvin Ridge winning in 9:36.59.
North Buncombe’s Sage Proffitt – who won the pole vault, was third in the 800 and ran a leg on the Hawks’ fourth-place team in the 4x400 – was named outstanding performer of the girls’ meet.
Berry’s Cameron Hudson – who won the 100 and was second in the long jump and a member of two first-place relay teams – was the outstanding boys’ performer.