NPC Girls Track Meet: South girls win
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY — South Rowan senior Hannah Houston motored around the East Rowan track on the anchor leg of the 4×400 — the final event of the NPC Championships.
Houston was visibly drained from winning individual events in blazing heat earlier in the long day, but her steps were made lighter by the chanting and clapping of her teammates.
“Go Hannah, go Hannah! — screamed a sea of red jerseys that contained sprinters, throwers, jumpers and hurdlers, and Houston kept going.
When Houston crossed the finish line clutching a pink baton firmly for fourth place, it was enough to cap a championship day for the Raiders.
It was fitting that Distance MVP Houston, who won the 800 and 1600, was the last Raider on the track. She and Talvanisha Lawing, a tiny bundle of energy who won the 100 hurdles and the triple jump, were the ringleaders as South amassed 141 points.
“No one did anything that surprising,” said South coach Angie Chrismon, whose team got a boost from soccer standout Avery Locklear. “We knew if we just went out and had our usual performances, we could win the championship.”
South won the Rowan County Meet, so it was the favorite, but Carson, powerful in the field events, finished second with 132 points and pushed the Raiders all day.
Carson winners included Shirley Marshall, who had a personal best in the shot put; Sarrah Holman in the discus; Jesse Troutman in the pole vault; and field events MVP Jan Sitterson in the high jump.
West Rowan placed third with 104 points. The Falcons had superb individual performances but lacked the depth to seriously challenge South in the team scoring.
West’s Christa Landy won the 100 and 200 and ran on 4×100 and 4×200 relay champs and was a clear-cut choice for sprints MVP.
West’s Shay Steele was a gliding, 6-foot-3 blur in winning the 400 and was also on both winning relay squads.
West senior Amber Holloway was the feel-good story, as she held off a zooming Lawing to take the 300 hurdles.
A devastating knee injury destroyed the talented Holloway’s junior season, but she now has high hopes for a college career.
“It was a lot of hard work to get back,” Holloway said. “But I never gave up, and that’s the good part. If I hadn’t gotten hurt the 100 hurdles would be my best race, but now the 300 is my thing.”
Houston’s fight to win the 1600 when the temperatures were in the upper 80s was one of the sparks for the Raiders.
She caught and passed Statesville’s Amelia Zweinor on the final turn of the last lap and then pulled away.
“The heat was definitely awful,” Houston said. “And we’re usually not supposed to try to pass on the curve, but I knew I had to get past her there or I wouldn’t get by.”
Houston and teammate Nicole Mauldin went 1-2 in the 800, and the Raiders kept piling up points consistently.
Chrismon gave credit to assistant Makenzie Mullinax, the former Charlotte pole vaulter, and to chemistry.
Team chemistry that was loudly evident in those “Go, Hannah!” cheers at the end.
“We’ve got good senior leaders, and these girls have stayed and cheered for each other like that all year,” Chrismon said. “We’ve got great athletes and great girls, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
See Scoreboard for results.