Track and Field: 2A Mideast Regionals

Gutsy Pirates grab runner-up finish

CorrespondentMay 13, 2013 

— 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 this week’s NCHSAA 2A championships at N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, its 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 the top five teams. North Johnston tied with Graham for 13th place with 16 points.

On the boys side, Corinth Holders got off to a strong start, opening the meet with a win in the 3,200 relay and adding individual finishes of second through fourth in the pole vault to grab an 11-point lead over Cedar Ridge and 12 1/2 over Carrboro. But the Pirates couldn’t keep that pace going, as Cedar Ridge’s Red Wolves amassed 112 points, easily outdistancing runner-up Cummings (66). Corinth Holders settled for seventh with 42 points, while North Johnston placed ninth with 33 ½ points.

“All season the girls have been working hard,” said Pirates girls coach Jon Riba. “And 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 hotter than the last time the Pirates were on the track in the Northern Carolina 2A Championships.

The final event, Riba said, was intense, knowing that the runner-up team honors were on the line.

“I told the girls before the race,” Riba said, “Andrews was ahead of us by one point. And they powered through – two of my girls (including Vessie) were extremely fatigued. Hopefully, they can rebound from this effort and get ready for next week.”

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 into 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).

Not qualifying individually, but drawing praise from Riba were Strickland, whom Riba said played a big part in the 4 x 8 relay’s qualification, and Cameron Rutherford, who set a personal best with a 5:38.56 in the 1,600 meters.

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 hope 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 Johnston’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.

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