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Panther Creek swept both the boys and girls team titles to highlight action at the NCHSAA 4A Indoor State Championships on Saturday morning.
Girls meet MVP Morgan Smalls won all three jump events to help the Panthers capture the girls team title. The University of Southern California signee also finished fourth on the podium in the 300m, adding to her individual point total of 35.
Panther Creek girls dominated the field events all-around. A mark of 11-6 helped University of Chicago commit Susannah Truitt earn the gold in the pole vault, and senior Kelly Smith also contributed crucial points with her runner-up finish in the long jump and fourth place finish in the triple jump.
In the boy's competition, it came down to the triple jump to determine team podium placement. Panther Creek won over Millbrook by just one point thanks to second and fourth place finishes in the triple jump by senior Jordan Payne and sophomore Jared Harrell. Millbrook captured a surprise silver medal in the 4x400m, but it wasn't enough to edge out Panther Creek in the end.
4A cross country champion Ian Harrison finished third in the 1,600m and second in the 3,200m to add 14 points to Panther Creek's winning team point total. Another win in the 4x800m relay also contributed 10 important points for the Panthers to start the meet.
Dominique Alexander (Millbrook), boys meet MVP, did all he could in an effort to catapult the Wildcats to a team win. Alexander won the 300m and finished second in the 55m hurdles and 4x400m relay, as well as placed seventh in the 55m dash, yet Millbrook came up just short in the team title race.
Outside of the team races, athletes completed successful doubles and clocked fast times that cracked the top of the state and national rankings.
Perhaps the performance of the day came from sprinter Michael Gupton (Rolesville), who ran a US #1 time of 6.22 to win the 55m dash. His performance also places him third all-time in the event in North Carolina. Gupton later finished second in the 300m in 35.34 from section two of three.
Danny Renard (Heritage) also posted a top performance with his surprise win in the boys 500m. His winning time of 1:04.92 sits as the new NC #1 and US #6 time in the event.
Star freshman Shawnti Jackson (Wakefield) came away with the win in the girls 55m dash, the only girl dip under seven seconds in the finals, and followed up the performance with a 300m win in 39.01.
Sanu Jallow (Berry) also pulled off an impressive double, anchoring Berry's 4x800m in 2:16 to overcome West Forsyth for the title and running a new NC #3 time of 1:15.00 to win the 500m.
In the girls distance events, it was the Alder family show, with Carmen Alder and Vanessa Alder (Pinecrest) cruising to first and second places in both the 1,600m and 3,200m. Carmen ran times of 5:00.50 and 11:09.50 - well off her personal bests in the events - but made the wins look easy.
A tight battle to the finish in the 1,600m highlighted boys distance competition. Carson Williams (Cardinal Gibbons) and Jack Rooney (Broughton) led a tactical race that came down to a kick at the end, but it was Williams who edged out Rooney to win in 4:21.15.
Highlights from field event action included Spencer Evans' (Lake Norman) state meet record of 16-7 in the boys pole vault, a mark that helped him win the event dominantly. Other athletes set huge personal bests to come away with individual state titles, including Armond Hopkins (Butler) in the boys triple jump and Keshaun Black (Mooresville) in the long jump. Davin Vann (Cary) also edged state record holder Mason Ellis in the shot put with a throw of 56-10.25.