Smithfield: Sports

Gutsy Pirates take second place

Like her Corinth Holders teammates, Arden Vessie gave it her all Saturday afternoon in the NCHSAA Mideast 2A Track and Field regional meet. In fact, she gave so much of herself; it may have left High Point T. W. Andrews’ girls feeling a little heartsick.

Vessie, who successfully defended her regional championship in the 3,200-meter run, turned around just minutes later and anchored the Pirates 1,600 relay team to what turned out to be a fifth-place finish in the event, completing her leg by getting sick along the front straight, just before crossing the finish line and collapsing in the infield.

While the squad did not qualify for next week’s NCHSAA 2A championships at N. C. A&T State University in Greensboro, it’s finish, combined with a seventh-place showing by Andrews, gave the Pirates runner-up team honors, edging the Red Raiders, 80-79.

Carrboro claimed the team crown with 120 1/2 points, while Burlington Cummings (61 points) and Cedar Ridge (49) wrapped up top five teams. North Johnston tied with Graham for 13th place with 16 points.

On the boys side, Cedar Ridge’s Red Wolves amassed 112 points, easily out-distancing runner-up Cummings (66). Corinth Holders settled for seventh with 42, while North Johnston placed ninth with 33 ½ points.

“All season the girls have been working hard,” said Pirates girls coach Jon Riba. “It’s paying off. We’re catching up to some of the stronger teams in the region and the state. For a young team, we all just worked hard, battling mental fatigue due to the heat. But they got through it by working as a team.”

Temperatures in Saturday’s meet were 30 degrees warmer than the last time the Pirates were on the track in the Northern Carolina 2A Championships.

The Pirates qualified three relay teams to the state meet - the 3,200 (Arianna Chappell, Rachel Strickland, Abby Pittman and Megan Chappell), 800 (Essence Scott, Whitney Pepper, Aysa Macon and Megan Chappell) and the 400 (Macon, Marie Pickett, Pepper and Scott), all finishing third.

The top four individuals and teams in their respective events earned berths in the state meet.

Riba commended the effort of Pickett, who also qualified in the 100- and 300-hurdles in times of 15.99 and 49.04 seconds, respectively, while adding team points in the high jump. Vessie’s gold medal in the 3,200 came in a time of 11:38.62, just off her best time this season.

Amanda Knickerbocker gave the Pirates their other event win, taking the pole vault with a clearance of 7 feet, 6 inches. She will be joined by Sicely Sohn, who placed fourth (7-0).

Advancing to the state meet for the Panthers was Tangela Williams in the 100 (12.99) and 200 (26.3).

Corinth Holders’ boys 3,200 relay team of Hunter Starr, Bailey Blackwell, Jackson Creech and Anthony Mercado gave the host supporters an early thrill, edging Cedar Ridge with a time of 8:28.81. Moments after that win, the Pirates gave everyone hopes they could be a team contender, when Charlie Gray (11-0), Matt Duncan (11-0) and Alex Dimmock (9-6) took second, third and fourth, respectively, in the pole vault.

North’s 800 relay team finished fourth to earn its qualifying berth in 1:33.65, while individually, Alex Pilkington placed third in the 200 (22.81) and D’Angelo Tyson placed second in the long jump with a distance of 20-9 3/4.