The North Carolina heat made its first appearance at New Balance Outdoor Nationals on Sunday and did athletes no favors; temperatures reached nearly 90 degrees. Despite the weather, North Carolina athletes still posted All-American performances and even meet records on the track and in the field on the final day of competition at Aggie Stadium in Greensboro.
North Carolina field competitors and sprinters in particular set impressive marks in their respective events.
Panther Creek junior Morgan Smalls came into Sunday looking for redemption after placing fifth place in the Girls Championship Triple Jump on Saturday, and redemption is what she earned. Smalls set a meet record of 6-2.25 in the Girls Championship High Jump, jumping 6-2.25 en route to her first win at outdoor nationals.
Smalls now holds meet records for both indoor and outdoor nationals in the Championship High Jump, something that she believes solidifies her as one of the best to ever compete in the event.
"It feel good to be able to know that I can go out there and compete up there and know that I could possible be one of the best high jumpers," said Smalls.
Going home with two All-American finishes, Smalls feels pleased that she represented her program well. "It feels really good knowing that I made my team proud and [that] I'm able to continue to compete."
North Brunswick junior Jieem Bullock also finished Sunday as an All-American in two events, impressing yet again at nationals on Sunday. Bullock had a breakout performance at New Balance Indoor Nationals a few months ago when he won the Boys Championship Long Jump, and fourth this time around in the event outdoors. He also earned All-American honors in the Championship High Jump with a jump of 6-10.25 to earn third place.
For Bullock, his performances in both events today left him feeling proud. "I felt amazing," said Bullock.
On the Emerging Elite side of the long jump, senior Miles Grant from Myers Park earned a runner-up finish in the boys competition with a mark of 22-9.25. Another North Carolina event runner-up was junior Spencer Evans of Lake Norman, who cleared 16-5.25 in the Boys Championship Pole Vault to improve upon his NC No. 1 height of 16-2.
But the story of the day has to go to Run U Xpress freshman Kayla Davis and Garner senior Randolph Ross, who represented North Carolina by winning both the Girls and Boys Championship 400m. Davis hunted down 600m national record holder Athing Mu in the final 100m to win in 51.17, and Ross also surged to the lead in the final stretch to run a time of 46.80.
Davis' time is a new U.S. No.1 for the 400m this outdoor season.
Numerous athletes competed after already finishing other events on previous days of competition. Highlighting those multiple-event competitors included Kaitlin McGoogan, who finished fourth in the Girls Championship Hammer with a throw of 162-6, slightly increasing her NC No. 1 mark by an inch. McGoogan placed third in the Girls Championship Discus on Saturday to earn double All-American honors for the weekend.
Cameron Rose of Hickory Ridge also completed his second sprint event of the weekend, finishing fourth in the Boys Championship 200m. Rose placed third in the Championship 100m on Saturday to become an All-American in both short sprint events.
In the relay events, the Southeast Raleigh girls 4x100m team was able to overcome a season of injuries to come out on top in the championship race, running a time of 45.79 to win by just .01 over Lakota East Thunderhawks from Ohio. The Bulldogs won the race all the way out in lane eight as they were the last qualifiers from the prelims to make the field.
Both the Reagan and Parkwood boys 4x100m teams finished in the top six in the championship event to cap off solid nationals performances. Reagan placed third to follow up their third place performance in the 4x200m yesterday, as Parkwood would take 5th. And on the distance side, the Cary boys 4xMile team finished sixth in the championship field without top runner Anton Idhammar in a time of 17:47.07. Providence Day ran 10:23.63 in the slow heat of the Boys Emerging Elite DMR to secure third place medals.
Bryce Anthony placed 4th overall in the boys Decathlon after a grueling two days and ten events. Anthony finished with a points total of 6222. His best event was his sixth, and first of today, in the 110m Hurdles where he went from 9th all they way up to 2nd with a 14.36 and 929 points.
This year's New Balance Outdoor Nationals saw many North Carolina athletes finish as national champions and All-Americans, and a Sunday full of them solidified an impressive showing by the host state in Greensboro this year.