NCHSAA 3A State Championship Meet Preview

Boys Sprints

Last year Cameron Council (Northwood) stole the show in the sprints as he took 3rd in the 100m Dash, then went on to win the 400 and 200 meter dash.  This year the Tennessee commit is qualified in just the 100m and 200m dash where he is the top seed in the 100 at 10.51 (NC#1 Overall) and the 4th seed in the 200 at 21.81.  

Council won't have an easy time bring home state titles this weekend with a lot of strong 3A Sprinters.  Emerson Douds (Weddington) in a contender in the 100m Dash, 200m Dash and 400m Dash after winning the 100m and 200m at the 3A Midwest Regional and taking 2nd in the 400.  Douds has run 10.71, 21.23 and 48.26 in the events this season.  He'll look to secure major team points in the individual events for Weddington before anchoring them int he 4x400 later in the day.

Two juniors emerged in the 200m & 400m last weekend at the regional meets in Bradon Black (Cuthbertson) and Joshua Parks (A.L. Brown).  Black swept the 200 & 400 at the 3A West Regional last weekend in big PRs of 21.94 and 47.82.  Black hadn't broken 49 in the 400 this season prior to his race last weekend, making him the top seed in 3A and NC#2 Overall.  It had seemed like Douds was a big favorite int he 400 prior to last Friday when Parks scored an upset on him at the regional meet running 48.04.  Parks also advanced in the 200m Dash running 22.08.

Junior Khaleb McRae (Southern Durham) is a serious contender in the 400 as well.  McRae chose to focus on the 400m instead of the 300m Hurdles where he'd also be a contender for a state title.  He won the 3A Mideast region last weekend in 48.35 and holds a seasons best of 48.31.  McRae was the indoor 500m State Champ, and I think we can see a big drop in his 400 PR this weekend.

The 110m Hurdles will be wide open tomorrow, but Aveon Reid (Forestview) will enter as the favorite in the event.  Reid holds the fastest PR on the year in 14.33.  Parks and Jalen Houston (West Rowan) had a tight battle at regionals, but Parks too the win.  They holds seasons best of 14.54 and 14.56 respectively.  Dymir Watson (Hillside) has also been strong over the hurdles this year, and is coming off a PR and win at the 3A Mideast Regional of 14.61.  Benjamin Buie and Jonathan Stone (Southern Lee) should also contend for a podium finish here with PRs of 14.62 and 14.66 on the year.

Cory Gaither (South Iredell) was .02 second away from winning last year, and enters with the second fastest 3A time on the year of 38.26.  Dominick Green (Southern Durham) sits at NC#1 and is the only boy under 38 in the 300mH this year with a PR of 37.78.  Green was upset at the regional by star triple jumper Jamar Davis (Orange) who ran 38.47.  Isaiah Daniel (Dudley) and Aveon Reid (Forestview) have also broke 39 this year at 38.74 and 38.92 and will look to contend in the long hurdles tomorrow.

Girls Sprints

Alexis Patterson (Parkland), Alyson Davis (Northern Guilford) and Bryannah Smith-Cunningham (Southwest Guilford) head into the meet as the favorites with PRs of 11.91, 12.00 and 12.01 respectively.  You also have the indoor 55m Dash state champion Del'Nique Penn coming in as the fourth fastest seed.  All four of these girls hail from the Mideast region, and it'd be surprising if the champion didn't come out of this region.  Davis was the winner in the region of death last weekend as she clocked her seasons best of 12.00.  M'Smrya Seward (Franklinton) will be one to keep an eye on.  Though she has a 12.37 seasons best, she's taken down a lot of strong competition this year as she was the 3A East Champ last weekend.

Alexis Patterson will look to bounce back from a 100m Dash win earlier in the day and battle it out for the win in the 200 where she is a big favorite.  Patterson holds a seasons best of 24.34, and will square off with teammate Del'Nique Penn, Jordan Sales (J.H. Rose) and Alyson Davis (Northern Guilford).  Patterson's 24.34 is good for NC#8 this season, but I expect a lot of the girls in the fast section to have a lot left to give in the 200.

Mikaila Gadson (Jesse Carson) comes into the girls 400 with the to seed time of the season with a 56.72.  But Gadson took third last week at the Midwest Regional behind freshman Alyssa Hernandez (Northern Guilford) and Mandi Hamouda (Southwest Guilford) who ran 57.01 and 57.20 respectively.  Also, you'll see the 3A West champ Dahlia Cutler (Cuthbertson) and Emmaya Waters (Hillside) contending for the win as well.  With the top seed going down last week, and a lot of strong 3A 400 runners this event is extremely wide open.

Nyile Facey (Southwest Guilford) currently sits at NC#1 with a 13.87 from the PTC Conference Championship.  She was however beaten by Alexis Patterson (Parkland) at the 3A Midwest Regional as Patterson clocked 14.05.  The rematch is certainly coming this week between these two girls.  Patterson has a lot of events scheduled for tomorrow, but the hurdles will be her first final of the day, and likely her biggest competition.  

Facey will double back in the 300m Hurdles where she'll look to take down reigning 4A 300m Hurdle State Champion Jessica Wright (Hillside).  Facey holds the top time in 3A this season of 43.38, but Wright isn't too far behind at 43.97.  These two girls seem to be standouts over the field, but Amaya English (Northern Guilford) and Olivia Cooney (South Iredell) also pose as threats to take the win.

Boys Distance

The big question in the boys distance races is can Cameron Ponder (Mt. Tabor) bring home the triple in the 800m, 1600m & 3200m.  Also, will Ponder run on Mt. Tabor's 4x800 giving him 4 events on the day to try and help bring the Spartans to a 3A Outdoor Team Title.  At Regionals Tabor held off their top 800 guys in Ponder and Michael Moerk, but we could see them added back in for the state meet.  

This 1600m will be no cake walk for Ponder. There are a lot of strong athletes in the field knowing they'll need to likely take the kick out of Ponder, if possible, if they want to score an upset.  Ponder has run a sub 4:10 equivalent for the 1600 this year.  Teammate Moerk is the second overall seed as the duo will look to go 1-2 tomorrow.  Moerk clocked a 4:16.39 PR last weekend at Regionals as he and Ponder will hope they can bring home a 1-2 finish.  Kyle Durham (Weddington) was just behind them last weekend running a 4:16.80 and will hope to double back from the 4x800 earlier and contend for the win.  Brandon Hernandez (AL Brown) and Laderique McNeill (Harnett Central) both were on the podium indoors, and were two that pushed the pace to make it an honest race.  Weather conditions can certainly change this from being an honest pace, but you can't count these two out from making some noise in the event tomorrow.

Ponder and Durham had a tight battle at 3A Midwest last weekend, and will be the top two seeds in the 800 tomorrow.  They holds PRs of 1:53.81 and 1:53.98.  They'll also have defending champ Ricky Kidwell (Swansboro) who has run 1:56.00 this year.  Kidwell held off a late charge from Durham in 2017 to win the state title.  Kidwell won he 3A East regional last weekend.  Jackson O'Hara and Jake Toomey (Weddington) ran PRs of 1:55.79 and 1:56.11 last weekend at regionals and should contend for a top spot tomorrow.  Connor Gross (Marvin Ridge) and Dasani Hawkins (Forestview) also had big PRs at the 3A West regional running 1:57.75 and 1:57.97 respectively.

The 3200 will likely be the toughest event for Ponder to win if he does in fact run 3 hard races in the rain beforehand.  David Melville (Northern Guilford) will be fresh heading into the 3200, and Laderique McNeill (Harnett Central) will also be a factor up front.  I predict McNeill scratched the 800 to focus on the 3200 win.  Both of these boys have run 9:11 this season.  Ponder ran 8:56 as a junior, but hasn't had an all out 3200 this year so far.  We should also see Ben Verchick (Union Pines) who will be fresh heading into the 3200 as well.  The junior has clocked 9:26 this outdoor season in the event.

Girls Distance

This is going to be an instant classic.  Sarah LaTour (Cuthbertson) and Elise Wright (T.C. Roberson) square off once again.  The two have flip flopped results this season with a different winner between them every time.  They hold PRs of 4:55.41 and 4:57.80 from a battle at Raleigh Relays earlier this year.  They won't be the only two contenders though, with Anna Bristle (Parkwood) and Katherine Dokholyan (Chapel Hill) looking to claim a state title on the track.  The two have run 5:02 this season for the 1600 and will certainly be there when a move is made both were dominant in regional victories in the event.

The 800 will be a barn burner with Elise Wright (T.C. Roberson) holding the fastest PR of 2:12.75, but she'll be challenged by Megan Marvin (Chapel Hill) who holds a PR of 2:15, but has split 2:11-12 in the 4x800 at Apex Relays.  Also Olivia Bene (Northern Guilford) has emerged as a star in the event this season as she holds a PR of 2:16.16.  Bene could be able to drop a lot more time as she matches up with strong competition.  Bene outlasted Katie Verrill (Piedmont) at the 3A Midwest regional as Verrill will also contend for the 800 crown here.

Sarah LaTour (Cuthbertson) will likely come back for her 3rd event of the day in the 3200 where she'll look to defend her individual title.  Anna Bristle (Parkwood) holds the top PR and has beaten LaTour in the 3200 this season.  Both have been under 11 with Bristle at 10:52 and LaTour a 10:59.  Jonna Strange (North Iredell) is just behind at 11:01.01 and will look to push the pace.  Hayley Whoolery (West Johnston) will also be a contender her as she's coming off a 3A East Regional win in the 1600 and 3200 with a seasons best of 11:12.

Boys Field

The High Jump got a whole lot more exciting last weekend as Elijahwon Cooper (Fike) and Jeremiah Ganaway (Hunt) threw down PRs of 6-10 at the 3A East Regional.  Unfortunately the expected rain can really hurt in the high jump which will make the event a little more wide open.  Four other boys have jumped over 6-6 in Jaidon Barrow (Parkland), Jalen Eberhart (Union Pines), Joshua Parks (A.L. Brown) and Kolby Cuthrell (Southwest Guilford).  Hopefully the rain holds off, but it could make this competition really interesting if not.

Jamar Davis (Orange) will look to repeat his indoor Long Jump and Triple Jump state titles tomorrow.  He's a very strong Triple Jumper who has jumped 49-6 this outdoor season, making him a favorite by 3 feet.  The Long Jump will give him more of a challenge where he is the 3rd seed behind Jamal Hampton (Cleveland) and Kolby Cuthrell (Southwest Guilford). Davis holds a Long Jump seasons best of 22-8, while Hampton and Cuthrell's seasons best are 23-6 and 23-5 respectively.  

The Pole Vault looks to be an exciting affair with two of the states top jumpers Charles Cooley (West Carteret) and Ben Finger (North Gaston) who have jumper 15-9 and 15-7 this season.  Daniel Nicholson (North Iredell) and Patrick Freeman (Mount Tabor) have also jumped 15-0 this year and will look to contend for the win tomorrow.  The rain will certainly play an interesting factor in this event.  For Pole Vault especially there is a certain point where rain will make the competition unsafe for competitors.

Asher Prince (Western Harnett) is the favorite in both the Shot Put and Discus tomorrow, but he has plenty of boys in range of taking him down.  Prince has thrown 55-8 in the shot and 170-0 in the discus.  Adam Hart (Topsail), Trey Love (Southeast Guilford) and Lyndon Strickland (Alexander Central) all will be contenders in the shot put tomorrow.  Hart has the second best seed of 53-6 in the event, and all three have been over 51-7.5 this season.  In the Discus it's going to be very tight with Prince, Strickland, Hart and Joshua Faison (Smithfield-Selma).  All four boys are within 7 feet of each other, with Faison holding the second best PR of 167-7.

Girls Field

M'Smrya Seward (Franklinton) and MeKayla White (Williams) enter the meet with equal PRs of 18-10, while Courtney Lines (North Brunswick) and Zinzili Kelley (Douglas Byrd) come in with seasons best of 18-9 and 18-7, showing this is going to be anyones state title for the taking.  

The Triple Jump will be similar with MeKayla White (Williams) coming in with the top season best of 38-4, with Jayda Hunter (Jacksonville) and Shakalya Robertson (South Iredell) not too far behind at 37-9 and 37-7.

Riley Felts (Weddington) will look to defend her 3A Indoor Pole Vault State Title holding a seasons best of 12-7 heading into the meet.  Her strongest competition should she falter is Maria Alamo-Worley (North Buncombe) and Sami Eberhard (Weddington) who have jumped 12-0 and 11-3 respectively. 

Kayla Beasley (Hillside) will have a lot of girls gunning for her in the Shot Put tomorrow.  Beasley comes in as the top seed with a seasons best of 45-10.  But Kamryn Henderson (Marvin Ridge), Naadiya Faison (Monroe), Samantha Ennis (Northwood) and Princess Lea'e (Jacksonville) have all exceeded 40 feet this season. Beasley will certainly be hard to take down though, as he 45-10 is three feet better than the rest of the field has thrown this season.

The Discus will be a much closer competition with Amanda Wahler (T.C. Roberson), Princess Lea'e (Jacksonville), Kayla Beasley (Hillside) and Samantha Ennis (Northwood) all ranging from 131-3 to 134-6 this season, with Wahler being the favorite.  This is anybodies win for the taking a three feet in the discus is very little room, especially when you factor in wet conditions.