High school track and field: Second place for young North girls
Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 22, 2022
By Mike London
GREENSBORO — Lots of of people congratulated North Rowan girls track coach Phillip Bush on Saturday after the Cavaliers finished second in the 1A Track State Championships held at North Carolina A&T.
Bush tried his best to smile as the pats on the back continued. He wanted more than second place.
“Everyone says,’Hey, you guys are back, and, yes, North Rowan is back,'” Bush said. “But at the same time, it’s a heartbreaking feeling to get so close and to come up just a little bit short.”
North stayed perched atop the leaderboard all afternoon, and with just two events left to be scored, North led defending champ Swain County 77-59. That looked like a substantial advantage, but it wasn’t. Next to last in the meet order was the 3200, where Swain piled up 13 points for second and fourth places to to slice North’s lead to 77-72.
In the concluding 4×400 relay, Swain breezed to a second-place finish to edge the Cavaliers 80-77. North was in the 4×400, but finished 13th.
Swain is a mountain team from Bryson City, powerful in the distance events, where the Maroon Devils piled up 34 points, as well as the relays and the pole vault, where the Swain girls went 1-2.
North’s sophomore-heavy team did what it needed to do and expected to do in just about every event in which it had qualifiers. North’s strengths are the throws and hurdles.
Top-seeded Brittany Ellis ruled the throws, taking the shot put early on a long day (37 feet, 2 inches) and finding the energy to fling the discus 107 feet, 3 inches for another 10 points.
As expected, Tai’lah Ward won the 100 hurdles in 15.46 seconds and the 300 hurdles in 45.70 seconds. Ward is more hurdling wizard than pure sprinter, but she tacked on fifth-place points in the 100 meters.
Versatile Aniya Brown placed second behind Ward in both the hurdling events, grabbed third in the triple jump and helped the 4×200 relay unit that also included Bailee Goodlett, Bloom Goodlett and Azarea Miller sprint to second place. Swain County was fourth in that event.
Miller contributed to North’s hurdling dominance with a sixth place for three points in the 100 hurdles. North amassed 39 points in the hurdles to Swain’s 3.
The heartbreaking segment of North’s loss was a false start DQ in the 4×100 relay. That’s an event the Cavaliers excel in and it’s one of the four events where they use Ward.
They were seeded third. If they finish in the top five in that event, they’re state champs. That’s how close it was.
“False starts happen, I’ve been there before, and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Bush said. “Just too much tension. It made the difference today, but we just have to suck it up, learn from it, and move on.”
North was seeking its first state championship in girls outdoor track since 2010.
It’s coming. The Cavaliers will be hard to beat the next two years.
“Long day, long meet,” Bush said with a sigh. “But so very proud of our girls today. Big dance, and they did everything we believed they would do. They’ll keep it going.”
North Rowan’s boys had a solid showing, placing fifth with 29 points.
Sprinter Amari McArthur was the key man. He was fifth in the 100 and fourth in the 200. McArthur ran with Jerome Blakeney, Kemon O’Kelly and Xavier Suber on the fourth-place 4×100 team. Blakeney, O’Kelly, McArthur and Jabari Hogue placed fifth in the 4×200.
Pharrell Hailey was third in the shot put, while Quintin Wilson took fourth in the 110 hurdles.
Anaston Trexler was seventh for the Gray Stone girls in the 300 hurdles, while Emberleigh Pauley-Brown was eighth in the 1600 and 3200.
Davie powerhouse Spencer Williams won the shot (64 feet, 3.75 inches) and discus (180-4) in Saturday’s 4A State Championships.
A.L. Brown’s Daunte Marshall was fourth in the 110 hurdles in 14.82 seconds.
The 2A and 3A State Championships were held at North Carolina A&T on Friday.
Salisbury seniors Marcus Cook and Sutton Webb had second-place finishes in 2A.
Cook, who won the triple jump indoors this year, came close to another state title. He jumped 44 feet, 3/4 inches for runner-up honors.
Cook also ran with Andrew Huffman, Mike Geter and Jamal Rule on a 4×400 team that placed fifth in 3:32.61.
Webb, who competed in the soccer playoffs on Thursday night in Mount Holly had a quick turnaround, but placed second in the 800 meter run in 2:19.38.
Webb also helped Salisbury’s girls take third in the 4×400 in 4:13.90. She teamed with Millie Wymbs, Dashia Canada and Kendall Henderson.
South Rowan’s Macy Miller cleared 5 feet, 2 inches for third place in the 3A girls high jump.
South’s Marcus Holloman tied for seventh in the boys high jump with an effort of 6 feet.
South’s Eli Julian got points in the 1600 and 3200. He was sixth in the 3200 in 9:51 and seventh in the 1600 in 4:28.04.
East Rowan’s Luke Heglar was fourth in the pole vault, clearing the bar at 12 feet, 6 inches.
All the marks and times for state qualifiers from the Rowan schools are in Scoreboard.