The NCHSAA 4A girls 1600m was loaded with 10 girls well under the 5:00 barrier coming into the state championships on Saturday.
The favorite coming into the event was Maddie Huecker (Lake Norman) who was the 2021 Outdoor Champ winning in 4:50.36 as well as the 2022 Indoor Champion from February. Charlotte Bell, Stella Kermes and Justine Preisano of Cuthbertson have been on fire all outdoor season as well with PRs of 4:50, 4:52 and 4:53 respectively. Those four battled at the NCHSAA 4A Midwest Regional a week ago.
Amelia Maughan (Chapel Hill) had been having a really strong postseason leading up to the state meet. She broke 5 minutes for the first time at the DAC-VII Conference Championship at 4:59.85 and ran 4:58 at a last chance meet at Chapel Hill the week after. With the barrier and time goal of breaking 5 minutes behind her, she'd win a battle against Sarah Mitchell (Apex) at the NCHSAA 4A Mideast Regional in 4:54.91.
Huecker would take the pace out in 1:12.53 for the opening 400m telling that no tactics would be at play and the field wanted an honest race with the majority of the field in tow. Bell would take the lead on the second lap coming around in 2:25 as the field up front would narrow down to 6 with Bell, Huecker, Kermes, Mitchell, Maughan and Lilly Walters.
Bell was looking to begin to gap the field coming into 1000m to go, but Huecker, Kermes and Maughan would close that gap leading into the bell, with Huecker looking to be pulling away for a strong final 400m.
Maughan would sit in 3rd just behind Kermes as they tried to hold onto Huecker's pace. Maughan would move onto the shoulder of Kermes down the backstretch, and at 200m to go was set up to move on the outside of Huecker. She'd move onto her shoulder around the turn, and with 100m to go had another gear that could not be matched to take the win in 4:49.69.
Huecker would fend off Kermes who was charging in a battle for 2nd in 4:50.86 to Kermes' 4:50.96.
Maughan's mark is good for the 11th fastest North Carolina performance outdoors all-time, and is the second-fastest ever at the NCHSAA Outdoor State Championships behind only Julie Shea, who ran 4:41 in 1977.
The University of Virginia commit has been one of Chapel Hill's top runners throughout her HS career. But things really clicked for her over her senior track season as she'd drop her 1600m PR from 5:09.89 to 4:49.69. Just one year ago at the NCHSAA 3A State Championships Maugh ran 5:20.35 to finish 9th in the 1600m and doubled back to run 2:17.49 for 2nd in the 800m later in the day. Indoors, Maughan was 4th in the 4A 1000m running 2:57.38 and would run a 2:15.43 800m at New Balance Indoor Nationals.