The final state meet for Thomas Graham should bring at least two more individual titles, but who will bring home a team championship?
Events to Watch
Discus Throw: Betsy Wiener (Durham Academy) is the leader coming in, and it might be the battle for second that is most intense. There are five girls with entry marks between 90' and 93' 10", which means that the competition could go in any direction. Team implications add another edge to this event, with Cary Academy and Providence Day both having athletes in the top 6 here.
100 Hurdles: Like the discus, there is a clear leader in this event, then a tight group of athletes fighting for scoring positions. Allison Bailey (Cary Academy) is the top seed and should cruise to the title, but behind her there are six competitors separated by a total of seven tenths of a second. That should make for a great final!
400 Dash: With no clear favorite, this could be one of the most hotly-contested races of the meet. Seven girls are under 1:02, none of them under 1:00, and they are all separated by a grand total of 1.32 seconds. This event could be the one that sets Cary Academy on the path to a team title, as they have the #1 and #2 seeds coming into the weekend.
1600 Run: Although the winner may not be in much doubt with US #6-ranked Wesley Frazier (Ravenscroft) in the race, the prospect of seeing three girls go under 5:00 is always enticing. Not only is it always worth watching Frazier, who really seems to geniunely enjoy pushing herself to the limit, but the next two girls -- Eliza Dekker (Durham Academy) and Ryen Frazier (Ravenscroft) -- are both freshmen.
4x400 Relay: If it comes down to this race, then Cary Academy has a great chance to bring home a team title. This could also be the third relay win for the Chargers, which would be a great testament to their depth in the sprints.
Athletes to Watch
Margaraet Edwards (Ravenscroft) is the top seed in the high jump at 5' 5", three inches higher than any other entrant. Eighth-grader Cha'Mia Rothwell (Durham Academy) holds the #1 seed in the 200, #2 in the 100 hurdles, and #4 in the 100 dash, making the future into the present right before our eyes. Wesley Frazier (Ravenscroft) will dominate in the 1600 and 3200, but if you love high-quality distance running, you have to watch her; don't overlook Eliza Dekker (Durham Academy) in the same races. Dacia Thompson (Providence Day) is the top seed in the shot put, and will only be challenged by Erica Williams (Rabun Gap GA).
Teams to Watch
Cary Academy is the statistical favorite, but they are not in the clear by any means. Providence Day is likely to be the nearest challenger, and that makes it a battle of two Chargers. Providence Day does have some room to move up in their events, so this could become interesting. Ravenscroft and Durham Academy are also close enough to be considered threats, and they could certainly take second away from Providence Day if they falter.
Events to Watch
Pole Vault: With the top 4 separated by only 6 inches, and then the next three another six inches behind that, this looks like it could be fun to watch. Will DuBose (Asheville School) is the leader coming in, but he only has a 3" advantage in season bests over Garrett Anderson (Ravenscroft). A lot can happen in a pole vault competition, and I have even seen a top seed fail to clear their opening height, so bring a chair and follow along with this one.
110 Hurdles: Jordan Myers (Durham Academy) is the clear favorite and should run away with the title (and he is also the top seed in the 300 hurdles), but behind him is a very evenly-matched field. There is less than a second separating the second through ninth seeds, and while a second is an eternity in this race, that kind of close seeding can apply pressure to the athletes to make the finals. Once the finals roll around, the same pressure is on them to improve their scoring position; if someone gets tight, the order of fiinish could be completely different from the seeding.
3200 Run: There has been a long string of talented boys' distance runners to come out of the NCISAA, but the depth this year is exceptional. Eight runners enter with a seed time below 10 minutes, and a ninth has a great chance to break that barrier during the race. Thomas Graham (Cary Academy) is dominant in this race, and the field might get a litte spread out unless someone makes a leap to move up a group. Still, the good times will be flying in during this event, and it will be fun to watch.
Triple Jump: There is no dominant performer in this classification, and the top seven are all between 40' and 41' 5", so this could be a back-and-forth affair. Gabe O'Friel (Asheville School) leads the field, but he will certainly be pushed by the athletes seeded close behind him.
800 Run: Zach Hostetler (Wesleyan Christian) is the top seed with a time of 1:55, and he is followed by seven more boys who have run under 2 minutes. Colin Godwin (Cary Academy) appears to be the strongest challenger for the individual title. It will be interesting to see how Thomas Graham and Ben Fiedler, two athletes that are normally thought of as longer-distance runners, stack up in this race. One of the best features of the NCISAA state meet format is the splitting of the distance races, which allows talented runners to triple or quadruple much more easily, and creates interesting matchups like this one.
Athletes to Watch
Kofie Yeboah (Ravenscroft) is one of the better sprinters in the state, any classification, and he holds the top seed in the 100 dash by a solid margin. He will have his hands full with States Lee (Charlotte Country Day) in the 200; Lee is the top seed in both that race and the 400. Alex Julian (Charlotte Latin) has the best mark in the high jump, and his 6' 4" would be strong at any of the public-school state meets. This is the last state meet for Thomas Graham (Cary Academy) before he heads off to Stanford, and anyone who hasn't seen him run during his tenure as the best long-distance runner in the state should try to catch him this weekend.
Teams to Watch
Using depth in the sprints and sprint relays coupled with the top two seeds in the shot put, Charlotte Country Day is the favorite for the team title. However, they are clearly not a runaway, as Providence Day might have enough firepower to challenge. North Raleigh Christian makes the most of a smaller group of athletes, and could even sneak onto the podium at the end of the meet. If any of the top teams fall off a bit, there are three more lurking close behind that would love to steal one of the top three spots: Cary Academy, Ravenscroft, and Asheville School.