Girls NCHSAA 4A State Meet Recap
To say this has been an unusual school year for Nevada Mareno would be to understate things greatly. After a transitional sophomore year where she won a national title in the mile indoors but didn't compete outdoors because she was on the soccer team, she dedicated herself fully to running this year. It paid off with a tremendous cross country season, netting her a state championship and a third-place finish at Foot Locker Nationals. The toll was high, though, and she decided to sit out the indoor season to recover and work on her base. That led to a spring where she only ran 10 total individual races - and three of them earned her 4A state titles! Mareno opened the day running third leg on the Leesville Road 4x800, which pulled away from strong competition to win in 9:06. 82 NC #1 US #8 (Green Hope's 9:12.69 for second is US #21). Then she cruised to a 4:51.57 victory in the 1600 before really turning on the jets in the 800, where she posted a time of 2:08.51 NC #1 US #9 NC #3 All-Time. Teammate G'Jasmyne Butler finished second with a PR of 2:10.44 NC #6 All-Time, which gives you the idea that the Pride might still be able to drop time in the 4x800 and threaten the state record if they want to continue training for it. Mareno then closed out her full day of racing in the 3200, where incredibly she was able to run 10:17.70 NC #1 US #9! It was a day for the ages, and the truly amazing thing is that Nevada will be back for another year.
Mareno wasn't the only multiple winner of the meet, though. Khayla Dawson (Olympic) completed her career with a dominant performance in the throws, taking the discus with a throw of 140' 1" and destroying the competition in the shot put, where her 49' 0" mark moved her up to US #7 and NC #2 All-Time. In the sprint races, Tamara Clark (High Point Central) won a showdown with state leader Lauren White (Rolesville) in the 100, clocking 11.52 (NC #2, US #7 among verified wind-legal performances, and NC #5 All-Time). Clark followed that up with a dominating 23.53 win in the 200, moving her to NC #1 US #8 NC #4 All-Time. Tamara also ran a leg on the Bison's second-place 4x400 team, which ran 3:52.65.
Even among those who won a single event, there were some truly elite performances. McKinley McNeill (Parkland) closed out her stellar career with yet another 400 title, clocking 53.50 NC #1 US #9. Sophomore Akira Rhodes (Mallard Creek) threw her hat into the ring as the next great North Carolina female hurdler, setting a new PR of 13.76 NC #3 US #15. Three seniors went to war in the 300 Hurdles, and Shellbi Chapman (Leesville Road) emerged victorious, running 43.17 to hold off Jazmine Gooden (Dudley, 43.18 NC #3) and Claudia Cox (South Central, 43.36 NC #4). Chesney Ward (Ragsdale) also improved her all-time best in the pole vault, clearing 13' 0" to tie for NC #1 and US #17. Michelle Cobb (T.C. Roberson) jumped 38' 8" NC #4 to win an incredibly competitive triple jump, where the top 8 athletes all went beyond 37 feet.
The relays were full of fireworks all day, starting with Leesville Road's new state-leading time in the 4x800. As mentioned above, Southeast Raleigh got to the line first in the 4x200 but had exchanged outside one of the zones; as a result, it was Parkland that ended up with the top spot in the rankings with their 1:37.05 US #10. Southeast Raleigh overcame that disappointment to dominate the 4x100, posting a new ALL-TIME STATE RECORD of 46.25 US #16, winning by almost a full second over Mallard Creek (47.15 NC #2). The Bulldogs proceeded to close the meet out with a 3:48.73 win in the 4x400, locking down their team title for good measure!
Although this is the classification with the biggest schools in the state, it has been arguably the weakest when it comes to girls' adaptive competition. This year, though, significant progress was made when two 4A wheelchair athletes squared off in the throws. Cara King (Apex) won both narrowly over Gracie Chagula (West Forsyth), then went on to compete uncontested in the 100 and 200 as well, earning 4 wins on the day. Cara leads the state in all 4 events on the season, and both she and Gracie are sophomores, so they have two more years to improve!