Southeast Raleigh has won so many conference track and field championships that the school is bursting at the seams from all the trophies the boys’ and girls’ teams have won.
“We’re running out of room in the trophy case,” coach Elizabeth Gary said Wednesday after the Bulldogs swept the Greater Neuse River 4A championships.
Southeast Raleigh has won the girls’ conference title for at least eight years running – as long as Gary has been coach – and the boys have won nearly that many.
This year’s meet started Monday but was delayed two days by rain – and moved from Garner to Rolesville.
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“It was definitely worth the wait,” said Southeast Raleigh sophomore Jordan Gary, the coach’s daughter who was second in the 100-meter hurdles, third in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump.
Southeast Raleigh dominated the girls’ meet, winning eight of the 12 running events – including all four relays – and three of the five field events. The Bulldogs scored 232.5 points, beating Rolesville by 128.5 points. Garner was third with 80.5 points.
The boys’ meet was closer, as coach Gary figured. Southeast Raleigh scored 169 points to runner-up Garner’s 139 and Rolesville’s 95.
As the Bulldogs arrived for the start of the meet Monday, the girls were sent off the bus, and she addressed the boys’ team.
“I said, ‘Look, it’s OK to go into something being the underdog,’ ” Elizabeth Gary said. “I think it’s better sometimes when you show up unexpectedly.”
Gary shuffled her 400- and 800-meter relay teams, finishing a strong second in both.
“We don’t believe in showing all your cards at one time,” Gary said. “Sometimes, we’ll go through the season and let people think that’s who’s going to run on a relay, and in a big meet, then we’ll switch it.”
Gary’s son, Khalil, ran the first leg on the winning 1,600-meter relay team after winning the 800 and finishing second in the 300 hurdles in back-to-back events.
Several Southeast Raleigh boys competed in more than one event, like Jayon Woodard, who won the 400 and ran on the winning 3,200 and 1,600 relay teams.
“We worked hard today, and everybody put in the effort,” said Khalil Gary, a senior. “It’s not just about one person or two people; it’s a team thing. You have to all want it, and it has to come from within.”
Rolesville’s Montae Myers won most valuable player honors for the meet, winning the 100- and 200-meter dash and the 110 hurdles.
Freshman Sierra Fletcher won the girls’ 100 and 300 hurdles for Southeast Raleigh, and Saidah Hardwick won the high jump and was second in the 400.
Southeast Raleigh’s depth was evident in the girls’ throwing events, too, as the Bulldogs went 1-2 behind state-level standouts Candice Whitley and Tameia Morrison.
Whitley, a junior, won the shot put at 37 feet, 8 inches and the discus with a personal-best effort of 132-5.
Morrison, also a junior, was second in the shot (32-3) and discus (119-4).
“We give each other a lot of tips and have been friends for years,” Whitley said. “We push each other in practice – it’s a friendly competition.”
Morrison was fifth in the discus at the 4A state championships last May but has spent the spring in the No. 2 position on her own team behind Whitley.
“I like the push – it makes us work hard and work together,” Morrison said. “(Whitley) is a very good teammate.”
Rolesville’s Lauren White won MVP honors for the girls, winning the 100, 200 and finishing second in the long jump.
Elizabeth Gary has built a strong program through community support, as she has coached several groups of siblings through the years. Plus, Southeast Raleigh has the luxury of having assistant coaches who lead sprinters, middle-distance runners, hurdlers, throwers and jumpers.
And the Bulldogs have relied on success breeding success.
“There is pressure there to do well, but it is good pressure,” Morrison said. “I feel like it’s a motivator. We have had people at our school do great things in the past, so it makes you feel like you can do the same things.”
Correspondent Geoff Neville contributed to this report.