High school girls track: Raiders repeat as county champ

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 28, 2024

By Mike London

GRANITE QUARRY — South Rowan’s girls repeated as champions in the Robert Steele Memorial Rowan County Track Meet on Thursday, winning by five points over East Rowan.

Officially, the foursome of Hannah Dellinger, Sadie Siscoe, Mesiyah Howell and Brinley Patterson clinched victory with a second-place finish in the 4×400 relay that concluded the meet, but South arguably won the meet in the pole vault pit.

That’s a remarkable statement because the two girls – Olivia Maynor and Adyson Howard  — who finished third and fourth for the Raiders to rack up 10 critical points, attempted the pole vault for the first time three weeks ago.

“Three weeks ago, we had those girls in an event where they probably weren’t going to score in the county, so we asked them if they would be willing to try the pole vault,” South coach Rebekah Julian explained. “They were willing to try. They made a difference.”

Of all the girls events, Rowan County is lightest when it comes to pole vaulters, and Julian knew if they could clear the 6-foot starting height, they could score.

And they did.

East’s Jasmyne Brown defended her county title with a 9-foot clearance and teammate Jadyn Featherstone was second, but the Mustangs didn’t get the 18-point swing in the pole vault that they normally would have gotten from a 1-2 finish.

With a 10-8-6-4-2-1 scoring system, South put up 134 points. Next were East (129), Salisbury (109), North (83), Carson (59) and West (35).

South won the 2023 meet mostly with tireless work by its distance girls, and the distance crew produced again. South accumulated 41 points from the long races.

South’s Gracie Hinson, Sara Culbert, Blythe Elliott and Patterson won the 4×800.

The 3200 was another crucial race for the Raiders.

“We were behind East going to the 3200, we really needed a huge race there, and we told our girls that we needed points from all three,” Julian said. “They all scored. Madison Beaver ran the race of her life.”

Beaver won in 13:31. Hinson was fifth. Elliott was sixth.

South was 2-4-6 in the 1600, with Madalynn Gulledge taking second place.

South’s highest-scoring individual was sprinter Mesiyah Howell, who defended her county championship in the 100, won the 400 and placed second in the 200. The Pfeiffer recruit still had enough gas left at the end to help the Raiders get second in the clinching 4×400.

South got the expected high jump win from Macy Miller. One of the top 10 in the state in the event, she cleared 5 feet, 5 inches. She helped out with a fourth in the triple jump.

South was shut out in the throws and managed only two points in the hurdles ( a pair of sixth places by Dellinger), but Howell’s sprinting, plus lots of points in the distance, relays and jumps, added up to back-to-back championships.

East’s strength was the jumps, where the Mustangs had three firsts and piled up 51 points. Besides Brown’s win in the pole vault, Lelu Hill won the long jump and Iyanna Lynch Berry won the triple jump. On the track, the Mustangs got a win from Sadie Feathestone in the 1600. She ran a PR 5:55.45 to nip South’s Gulledge.

Salisbury competed without Christyonna Lewis. last season’s 200 and 400 county champion as a freshman, but still racked up points with its collection of runners. The Hornets got 77 of their 109 points in the sprints and relays.

Tai’lah Ward, who was voted Sprints MVP, won the 200 meters and the 300 hurdles.

Millie Wymbs won the 800 for the Hornets and lost by inches to South’s Howell in the 400. Both girls ran PRs in that event, with Howell clocking 1:01.71 to Wymbs’ 1:01.94.

Ward and Wymbs teamed with Shekiya Woodruff and Kendall Henderson to win the 4×200. Henderson and Woodruff ran with Mya Noble and Dashia Canada on the 4×100 winner, and the Hornets made it a sweep of the sprint relays in the 4×400.

While North Rowan finished fourth, the Cavaliers had no shortage of individual standouts.

Field Events MVP Brittany Ellis took charge of the throws and defended her shot put and discus titles. Ellis is in the top 25 in the state in both events.

She won the shot put with an effort of 38 feet, 1 inch. She had a PR of 121 feet, 5 inches in the discus.

North’s Aniya Brown won the 100 hurdles.

Carson was led by Julia Burleson, who was voted Distance MVP. Her busy day included second in the 3200, third in the 1600, fourth in the 800 and she helped the Cougars finish in the 4×800 relay.

West’s most impactful performer was Skyy Ruben, who placed second behind Ellis in both throws.

A girls county championship has been staged every year since 1979, except for the COVID year. South has the most wins with 13.