For North Carolina athletes, it's always nice having the biggest high school track and field meet of the year in your own backyard.
"It's a great experience," said Reagan senior Kesean Dirks.
And for those state athletes that traveled to North Carolina A&T's Aggie Stadium for the third day of competition Saturday at New Balance Outdoor Nationals, it was well worth the in-state road trip, as many secured top finishes and All-American honors.
The Reagan boys 4x200m relay team kicked off the day with a third-place finish in the Boys Championship 4x200m with a time of 1:26.16. Just off of their NC #1 time from earlier this outdoor season, the squad felt slightly disappointed but still satisfied; they came back to finish third in the Championship 4x100m prelims to set up a competitive race on Sunday.
And then in the only distance relay event of the day, the 4x800m, Weddington (Warrior Project) led for most of the race, but ended up getting outkicked at the finish and placed second in a time of 7:40.47. Weddington still has the Championship DMR ahead on the final day of competition, so they will likely look for redemption following their loss on Saturday.
But perhaps one of the most electrifying races of the day came from Hickory Ridge junior Cameron Rose in the Boys Championship 100m, who ran 10.39 to finish third in a tight race, only missing second place by .006. He improved on his previous PR by nearly one-tenth of a second and currently sits at NC #1 in the event.
Out on the field, Ragsdale senior Kaitlin McGoogan cracked the 150 feet mark for the first time with a throw of 153-4 to finish third in the Girls Championship Discus, a throw that puts her at NC #7 All-Time in the event. She knew for much of the outdoor season that she had the strength and training under her belt to hit the mark, and she finally hit her breakthrough on the national stage.
"I was very proud because it was a long time coming," said McGoogan.
When asked about her performance, McGoogan couldn't help but break out into a huge grin. "I was very excited," said McGoogan.
McGoogan will also look to gain All-American honors on Sunday when she competes in the Girls Championship Hammer.
Cary junior Davin Vann also garnered an All-American finish in the throws events, placing third in the Boys Emerging Elite Shot Put with a new PR of 57-11.25.
Other notable athletes include stellar junior jumper Morgan Smalls from Panther Creek, who placed fifth in the Girls Championship Triple Jump. She will look to come back with wins in the Championship Long Jump and High Jump on Sunday.
Kendall Jordan (Cummings) and Jirah Sidberry (Rocky River) would both crack the 40-foot barrier jumping 40-6 and 40-3.5 to place 10th and 12th in the country.
North Carolina athletes will look to show out yet again on Sunday on the final day of nationals competition at nearby Aggie Stadium, and many will look to improve on their already impressive performances thus far at New Balance Outdoor Nationals.