McMichael's Courtney Crawford will be gunning for three individual titles, while the girls' team championship may go down to the wire.
(Heats are posted)
Follow @NCRunners on Twitter for live updates!
(Including performance list)
Events to Watch
100 Dash: The top 3 seeds all ran between 12.1 and 12.2 last weekend, with Courtney Crawford (McMichael) holding a slim advantage coming into the meet. Defending champ Nyshedra Brown (West Craven) will definitely not go down without a fight, though, and Qizeah Jackson (Westover) continues to develop as a sprinter to go along with her jumping ability. When they get together in the final, it should be fun to watch!
800 Run: What more can you say about a distance race where the top eight are within two seconds of each other? Blake Dodge (West Carteret) is the top returner, having narrowly lost last year; she plays soccer in the spring, so it will be interesting to see her fitness level. Alexa Young (Chapel Hill) is the top seed, but she will have to run at least 3 seconds faster to win today.
3200 Run: In the seeding there is a clear four-person lead pack, but there are at least two more girls out there who could join that race. Mary Grace Doggett and Rachel Bartolomeo (Cardinal Gibbons) are the top two seeds, with Tristin Van Ord (Chapel Hill) and Mallary Price (Weddington) right behind them. Expect Katarina Ruehl (North Buncombe) to get right in the mix, and if Carmen Hilliard (South Brunswick), the #1 seed in the 1600, drops the 800, she will definitely be a factor in this race.
300 Hurdles: Amber Holloway (West Rowan) is the top seed, but the field is close behind her and this should be a fantastic final. The 300 hurdles can change dramatically with one stutter-step late in the race; last year Rikki Jay (Franklin) suprised everyone, including herself, by hitting all the hurdles in rhythm down the stretch to claim the title.
Sprint Relays: Both the 4x100 and 4x200 have a bunch of closely-seeded teams. Hickory will be aiming to pull off the double win, but they will be pushed to the limit in the 4x200 and will have to recover to run the 4x100.
4x800: Five squads ran under 9:50 last weekend (two from the Mideast, and three from the Midwest). Expect a back-and-forth battle from leg to leg, as top seed Charlotte Catholic will have to hold off Chapel Hill, Marvin Ridge, Cardinal Gibbons, and Jay M. Robinson.
Pole Vault: Sage Proffitt (North Buncombe) is the second-best vaulter in state history (a position she shares with three others), and is currently tied for the state lead. Elizabeth Ambler (Northern Guilford) is no slouch, either; clearing 12 feet today would make Proffitt work for her title. Likewise for Brooke Shelton (Ledford), who entered the top tier of vaulters in the state with her 11' 6" clearance last weekend, and this could be the day for Sarah Fell (Marvin Ridge) to hit that mark, as well.
Triple Jump: Talk about an event with no clear favorite! Six girls jumped between 35 and 36 feet last weekend, with Mikayla Kinloch (Hickory Ridge) the leader at 35' 11.5". Any of those six could win the state title with a good jump or even a little gust of wind, and that could lead to a back-and-forth competition. Three of the jumpers -- Kinloch, Onya Edwards (Charlotte Catholic), and Tamilia Wright (Williams) -- have been beyond 36 feet this year.
Athletes to Watch
Courtney Crawford (McMichael, formerly of Western Guilford) is the top seed in the 100 and 200 as well as the long jump. That's a recipe for possible MVP! Whitney Williams (South Johnston) is one of the state's bet shot putters, and if she hits her season best she will most likely bring home the title. Sage Proffitt (North Buncombe) is one of the best all-around athletes in the state; in addition to the pole vault, she is entered in the 800. It was an interesting choice, given that she is a top-flight 400 runner, and she will have to run 2:18 or faster to make the decision pay off. Watch out for her on the anchor of the 4x400, especially if there is something at stake in the team competition. Jentzen Jones (Fike) got edged by Hilliard in the regional 1600, but she has the best PR in the race and will definitely be in the hunt for a title; she might also be a factor in the 800, unless she leaves it all on the track in the first race. Naomi Alston (Douglas Byrd) is the top seed in the 400 and the only one under 57 seconds. Freshman Ariel Davis (Northern Guilford) leads the entry list in the 100 Hurdles and is seeded #2 in the 300 Hurdles. Lexus Hankins (South Brunswick) is the clear favorite in the discus, with a throw that is almost 12 feet farther than the nearest competitor. Elizabeth Olesen (Hickory Ridge) has jumped 5' 7" this year, but only cleared 5' 0" in the regional.
Teams to Watch
This could be the tightest team competition of any state meet, public or private, this year. Cardinal Gibbons has a slight advantage coming in, based mostly on strength and depth in the distance races; watch the 1600 to see how their girls do, as that race could be the key to a title. Depending on how you look at the data, Marvin Ridge, Chapel Hill, West Rowan, and Charlotte Catholic all have a good shot to win the title, and if not they will stage in intense fight for second place. The next tier of teams includes Westover, Northern Guilford, and Douglas Byrd, all of them close enough to threaten with a good day, and don't be surprised if North Buncombe is close when the 4x400 finishes. Although there is a good chance McMichael will score 30 points, it all comes from from one girl, and that means they can't take a place in the team scores.
Events to Watch
100/200 Dash: Tyshawn Siders (Jacksonville) claimed the top seed with a breakout regional performance, but TJ Logan (Northern Guilford) has been tremendous in his first track season and could rise to the occasion. And you can never count out Cameron Hudson (Berry Academy), who got to ease off the hammer a bit in his regional. Notable by their absence are Harvey McSwain II and Kedrick Davis; if those two were in the race, it would be incredible! By contrast, the 200 has no clear favorite, and could be one of the more entertaining races of the meet. Damien Washington (A. L. Brown) is the top seed, but there is an outside chance that Logan could make it a double win.
400 Dash: A two-man battle up front, plus four more guys under 50, make this a very competitive race. Larry Gibson (Berry Academy) and Kris Lordman (Asheville) ran within 0.01 seconds of each other last weekend, but neither one can ignore the four runners behind them.
800 Run: The top 10 entrants all ran under 2:00 last weekend, and there will be a lot of jockeying for position throughout this race. Here's hoping that the crowding does not lead to someone falling early in the race; 16 800 runners is a lot, especially when they are so evenly-matched. Top seed Chris Reeder (Chapel Hill) already defeated his top challenger, Chase Helton (Douglas Byrd), last weekend; look out for John Crossley (West Carteret), who dominated his regional and comes from a school that is turning out great mid-distance runners.
3200 Run: It is difficult to tell whether everyone ran their hardest in this race at the regionals, but the seed times say this should be exciting. The top 7 come in with times separated by less than 7 seconds! Mitch McLeod (Chapel Hill) is the defending champion and also has the best PR in the field. One sure thing: there will be several runners under 9:50, and there could be as many as 5 that break 9:40.
Shot Put: The top five boys all threw over 50 feet last weekend, and the top seed (Jeffrey Lawing of South Point) hit 52' 5". Watch out for Thomas Evans (Franklin), who threw 49' at the regional but has a best of 55' this year.
High Jump: This is one case where the regional marks do not paint a clear picture of what the competition could be. Spencer Walden (Union Pines) has cleared 6' 9", while Cole Finch (Weddington) and Josh King (Fike) have both been over 6' 8". Whichever one handles the pressure of the state meet best will be the winner!
Athletes to Watch
Wesley Tucker (Jacksonville) is the top seed in both hurdles races, and it will be a major upset if he gets beaten in either one, even though he did not hit his best marks in either race at the regional. Frank Quarles (Douglas Byrd) is by far the top seed in the long jump, and he is also rated highly in the 400. Josh King (Fike) leads the list in the triple jump, and although he did not jump well in the regional high jump, he could challenge for the title there. Ian West (Fike) is the leading freshman pole vaulter in the nation, but he will be pushed by Thor Smith (Northern Guilford). Paul Lilley (Rocky Mount) has the best time of the season in the 1600, but he wasn't pushed in his regional and so he is seeded fourth. In addition to being a strong 800 runner, Chris Reeder (Chapel Hill) is the top seed in the 1600.
Teams to Watch
Berry Academy won all four relays at the 2A state meet last spring, and now that they have moved up to 3A they want to repeat the accomplishment. Their biggest challenges come in the longer relays, as they are seeded 4th in the 4x400 and will have a great battle on their hands in the 4x800. Although they are clearly not as dominant at this level as they were in the smaller classification, they are still the favorites. Douglas Byrd and White Oak appear to be the only teams within striking distance, and if Berry pulls away those two will have to duke it out for second place.