A year ago, Voyager Academy didn’t have a track and field program to supplement its burgeoning success in cross country.
On Saturday, the Vikings were fifth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A state championships at N.C. A&T’s Irwin Belk Track.
“It’s a heck of a first season,” Voyager senior Luke Bennett said.
Bennett’s points led the way for the Vikings as he was one of two double winners from the Triangle, joining Raleigh Charter hurdler Enoch Cheung.
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Bennett, who will run at Appalachian State next year, claimed the 1,600 (4:30.11) and 3,200 (9:48.92). Bennett was also the cross country champ in the fall.
“At the beginning of the year, this was my goal,” Bennett said. “I was going around that last lap thinking ‘Man, this is my last high school race. I’ve got to give it all.’ ”
It was redemption for Cheung, who tripped over the final hurdle in last year’s 300 hurdles to spoil what would’ve been a gold medal effort.
He had two gold medal efforts on Saturday.
Cheung won the 110 hurdles (15.06) and the 300 (39.94).
“I’ve been focused a lot on what I could do better,” Cheung said. “I kind of used that to push me every day.”
The Mount Airy boys ran away with the title with 64 points. The North Stokes girls defeated Murphy 61-47 for the championship.
SILVER AND GOLD
▪ Franklin Academy’s placed sixth, the highest among Triangle girls teams, led by its distance and middle-distance runners.
Freshman Leah Given was second in the 800, and the Patriots were third in the 4-by-800 relay. Sophomore Caitlyn Burkett won the 1,600 (5:21.43) and was third in the 3,200 (12:12.57).
“It was a really tight race until the last lap when I think adrenaline just kicked in,” Burkett said. “I got (a title) with my team in cross country so I really, really wanted one.”
▪ Rocky Mount Prep’s Akira Simmons was runner-up in the girls 100 hurdles.
▪ Princeton’s Austin Sullivan was second to Bennett in the 3,200, and teammate Luke Brush was second in the pole vault.
▪ Rosewood’s Montonio Wheeler lost by three-hundreths of a second in the 400, where he finished runner-up.
▪ The wheelchair titles went to local competitors. Neuse Charter’s Alyssa Lynch claimed a title in the girls wheelchair shot put (14-5.75), while Rosewood’s Phillip Kostelecky won the boys wheelchair shot put (9-1.75) and discus (11-3).
ON THE PODIUM
Third-place: Franklin Academy girls 4-by-800 relay; Franklin Academy’s Zachary Bunner (boys 800); Voyager Academy boys 4-by-800 relay.
Fourth-place: Princeton’s Shamonda Bell (girls 100 and 200); North Moore’s Tyreek Riddick-Reynolds (boys 200); North Moore’s Jaylyn Johnson (boys 110 hurdles); Rosewood’s boys 4-by-200 relay.