High School Sports

Hillside girls win NCHSAA 4A girls track & field title; Gibbons Connor Lane MVP

Hillside's Jessica Wright (5) clears the final hurdle on her way to winning the 300 meter hurdles, with Southeast Raleigh's Sierra Fletcher (3) finishing in second place, during the NCHSAA 2A and 4A track and field state championships in Greensboro on Friday, May 19, 2017. Hillside's girls won the team title, and Southeast Raleigh finished as runner-up.
Hillside's Jessica Wright (5) clears the final hurdle on her way to winning the 300 meter hurdles, with Southeast Raleigh's Sierra Fletcher (3) finishing in second place, during the NCHSAA 2A and 4A track and field state championships in Greensboro on Friday, May 19, 2017. Hillside's girls won the team title, and Southeast Raleigh finished as runner-up. newsobserver.com

Cardinal Gibbons’ Connor Lane wanted a double after winning a state title in one event last spring in track, last fall in cross country and last winter in indoor track.

The Hillside girls wanted to match the state team title that the Hornets’ boys won a year ago. Southeast Raleigh’s girls hoped to defend last year’s team title.

Lane accomplished the grueling double in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters Friday night at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A track and field championships at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track.

He also set a state meet record in the 3,200 and was the boys’ MVP of the meet. His 3,200-meter run time was 8 minutes, 59.90 seconds and 1,600 was 4:17.58.

“You can’t be afraid of challenging yourself,” the Stanford-bound runner said. “My coach (Nick Mangum) has taught me that.”

But only one team could win among Hillside and Southeast Raleigh, and the Hornets overcame Southeast’s early lead to take the team title, 71-65.

“I am so proud of my team,” first-year Hillside coach Jeremy Smoots said. “They’ve worked so hard all year. I am very happy for them. Everybody came together to win this championship.”

The Triangle wasn’t a factor in the 4A boys’ races as Broughton took seventh. West Forsyth edged Charlotte’s Mallard Creek 46-42 for the title.

STATE CHAMPIONS

Hillside’s Jessica Wright won a state title in the 300-meter hurdles at 42.99, and Kayla Beasley won the shot put at 42 feet, 10 inches.

Wright also ran legs on the winning 800- and 1,600-meter relay teams.

Lane was one of five boys combining for seven individual titles.

The other four were Athens Drive junior Brandon Ray in the 100 (10.67); Broughton’s North Carolina-bound Andrew Brooks won the 800 (1:53.88); South Central’s Dexter McDuffie in the 300 hurdles (37.91) and Pinecrest’s Tyrese King’s double in the long jump (22-4¾) and triple jump (46-8½).

Brooks was also third in the 1,600 (4:19.61).

Other girls that won state titles were Cary’s Dartmouth-bound Olivia Goodwin in the pole vault at 12 feet, 6 inches and Panther Creek freshman Morgan Smalls in the high jump at 5-8. Smalls also was third in the triple jump at 37-6½.

HILLSIDE EDGES SOUTHEAST

The team title hopes for the Southeast Raleigh girls began about as well as Bulldogs could hope to bring home their second consecutive title.

Candice Whitley opened the meet with a surprise victory in the discus worth 10 team points, and teammate Tameia Morrison added five points with a fourth-place finish. The Bulldogs had 15 points on the board before any track events had taken place.

But Hillside began chipping away at the big lead. The meet was suspended 96 minutes when rain, wind and lightning passed through shortly after Hillside took the lead for the first time following the 300 hurdles results.

Hillside’s 14 team points with a first from Jessica Wright (42.99) and fifth from Ashlan Bowdry overcame a second worth eight points from Southeast Raleigh sophomore Sierra Fletcher (43.48). Hillside inched ahead, 53-51, and never lost the lead.

The Hornets clinched the meet in the final event, the 1,600-meter relay. Hillside won with a 3:44.88 that was just off its state-leading mark of 3:44.68. Southeast Raleigh was second with a season best of 3:46.92 that ranks second in the state.

The irony of Southeast Raleigh losing the state title on one of the final events was a year ago the Bulldogs claimed it with points recorded in the shot put that finished late in the meet.

The early discus victory from UNC-Charlotte-bound Whitley was recorded with a personal record throw of 142-7.

“I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” she said. “I wanted to finish my career with a personal record and a state championship. I’ve been working hard on my techniques. It felt good to contribute to my team.”

In addition to Morrison’s fourth-place throw (115-5), the Bulldogs added more points in the throw events from Courtney Murph in the shot put.

Murph was third at 40-5. Only the top four get to the podium, but Whitley’s fifth place (38-5) was worth four team points.

Joe Johnson

MORE GIRLS PODIUM PLACERS

100: J.H. Rose freshman Jordan Sales was second (12.04) and Heritage sophomore Melicia Mouzzon fourth (12.19).

400: Fuquay-Varina senior Cheyenne Jones, fourth (56.18).

800: Green Hope sophomore Alessandra Rodriguez, fourth, 2:17.17.

1,600: Apex junior Callie Parker, third (5:13.45).

3,200: Two Cardinal Gibbons girls claimed medals. Junior Marissa Bishop was third (11:03.56) and sophomore Sloan Walter fourth in (11:07.33).

100 hurdles: Wakefield junior Taylor Scott, second (14.08).

300 hurdles: Riverside junior Abira Reddish took third (43.39).

Pole vault: Leesville Road sophomore Elise Hall, third (11-6)

Long jump: East Wake senior Mikieja Covington, fourth (17-7 ¾).

Shot put and discus: Wakefield junior Veronica Fraley was second in both events with marks of 42-8 and 140-4.

4-by-200 relay: Wakefield was third in 1:43.97 with Tayler Grier, Brooklyn Rushing, Taylor Scott and Wynter Stample.

4-by-800 relay: In addition to the open 3,200, Bishop led Gibbons to a second place in 9:28.70 with Caroline Todd, Molly McGowan and Annie Pierce.

Wheelchair events: Apex’s Cara King was the only competitor in the wheelchair 100 (23.04), 200 (47.77), shot put (12-4) and discus (32-11).

MORE BOYS PODIUM PLACERS

100: The event looked like a Wake County Invitational even without Panther Creek’s J Johnson. Following Athens Drive’s Brandon Ray across the finish line were Wakefield junior Kobe Barnes in second (10.79) and Garner’s Rondell Terry in third (10.80).

200: Barnes added another medal with a second in the 200 (21.92).

800: Rolesville senior Christian Pigues was second (1:55.15).

1,600: Green Hope junior Finn McBride was fourth (4:22.46).

3,200: Apex senior Ben Savino was fourth (9:10.71).

100 and 300 hurdles: Cary senior Elijah Knight was fourth in the shorter race (15.03) and second in the longer version (38.09).

High jump: Garner sophomore Randolph Ross was third at 6-2. Apex Friendship sophomore Omar McBride was fourth at 6-0. A week ago McBride was the second-year school’s first NCHSAA regional champion in the sport. Now he’s the first state medalist.

Triple jump: South Central junior Emmanuel Lewis was fourth (46.05).

Pole vault: Broughton senior Doug Scott was fourth in a competitive event at 14-0.

Long jump: Rolesville senior Lutalo Holly was second at 22-4½. Panther Creek’s J Johnson took home a fourth-place medal from the long jump based on his 21-10½ leap in the prelims that stood up through the finals. After his hamstring injury in the 100 prelims, he was unable to compete in the 200 and 4-by-400 relay.

Shot put: Rolesville senior Uzukwu Ossai was third (52-2¾).

Discus: Millbrook senior Larry Rountree III was fourth (155-3).

4-by-800 relay: Millbrook’s foursome of Weston Clayton, Luke Gostling, Tucker Cera and Josh McLean was second (7:50.86). Cary’s team of Luke Militello, James Lundergan, Brian Steverson and Stephen Atkinson was fourth (7:57.51).

Ambulatory races: Hillside’s Desmond Jackson finished first in the boys’ ambulatory 100 in 12.67. Jackson, who has been slowed by a leg injury this spring, also won the ambulatory 200 in 27.83.

Wheelchair events: Northern Durham’s Miles Hill won the wheelchair 100 in 28.25 ahead of Jamestown Ragsdale’s Christopher Coke, whose time was 29.07. Hill also took first place in the wheelchair shot put (16-7.50) and discus (44-8). Both of those tosses were career-bests for Hill. He finished his day by winning the wheelchair 200 in 57.77, another best time for him.

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