The Hobbton girls track and field team held off Rosewood Wednesday afternoon to defend their Carolina 1A Conference championship as the Wildcats edged out the Eagles by 2.5 points to win their second straight title.
Meanwhile, Rosewood’s boys track and field team avenged last year’s one-point loss to Hobbton in the conference meet with an 81-point margin over second-place Princeton, with the Wildcats finishing in a distant third.
The Hobbton girls’ win continues a winning tradition for the program, which lost its head coach midseason when Jeff Klaves left Newton Grove to continue his coaching career at Campbell University.
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Coaches Emily Hadley and Zoe Paist have split the coaching duties since Klaves’ departure, and Hadley said her team never shied away from their goal since the season began: repeating as conference champions.
“We were certainly hoping to make this happen, but it’s been a lot of work and the transition has been challenging,” she said.
Hadley pointed to Nina Devone, the Carolina-bound senior who took gold in shot put and discus to earn her team 20 points from the field events, and sophomore Adriana Montes, who finished first in the 800 and helped Hobbton’s 4-by-800 and 4-by-400 relay teams to gold finishes as well.
“She wasn’t feeling so great today but still came out and performed,” Hadley said, adding that the school’s lack of facilities made the wins on the track all the more satisfying. “We don’t have a track at Hobbton High School, so we never know exactly what our relays are going to look like until we show up here.”
Rosewood coach Robert Britt said he was pleased with his team’s performance, especially with a roster featuring athletes who also play other spring sports.
“I was extremely proud of our girls team. It’s a very small team and we were only 2.5 points away from winning the conference championship from a very good Hobbton squad,” he said.
Coach Britt said the Carolina 1A has become a strong track conference, noting the top two teams in the region in 2016 were Hobbton and Rosewood.
“If you can compete in our conference and do well in our conference, then you can go to the region and do well also,” Britt said. “We have a few experienced track guys from some successful teams and we do a good job of using their experience by spreading them around. The younger guys buy into how the older guys work and that’s going to make them better.”
The Eagles hope to defend their 4-by-400 relay state championship from a year ago, but some of their stiffest competition this postseason is likely to come from their own conference, as they finished more than a second behind the Wildcats team during the conference meet.
Hobbton sprinter Josh Polk was a big factor in that relay win. The junior also picked up wins in the 100 as well as the 200, the event he won the state championship in last year.
“He’s a rock star athlete,” coach Hadley said. “He’s looking to depend that title and possibly see if he can add the title. He is one of our top performers on the 4 x 400 so we’re hoping for big things.”
Hadley, who works as one of the school’s college adviser, also noted how competitive the conference has gotten, pointing out that many of her athletes will be competing at the collegiate level.
“Track has become an avenue for our kids to go to college,” she said.
Princeton, which hosted the meet, leaned on distance to finish as runner-up, and the Bulldogs will look to senior Austin Sullivan, who will compete at the University of Mount Olive next year, to help pace coach Mark McLamb’s team at the regional level.
“We knew if we were going to have a chance at being one of the top three teams, Austin was going to have to run four miles,” McLamb said after the meet. “He doesn’t like losing. Between his work ethic, the training he’s got and his natural talent, I knew he was going to win all four, so that brought us 40 points just by himself. In this area he is a notch ahead of everybody else. He’s been the key guy scoring points for us.”
North Duplin 73
Spring Creek 58
James Kenan 34
Neuse Charter 14
Neuse Charter 34
James Kenan 32
North Duplin 29
Spring Creek 23