Moment of the Year - Ryan Motondo Wins NCHSAA 3A 800m State Title
It was an emotional final few weeks to the season for our community. Just days before the NCHSAA Regionals, we lost Union Pines' star Gio Rincon to a tragic car accident. It was heartbreaking for everyone, including friendly regional-rival Ryan Motondo. Motondo was known through his career as a distance runner on the track, and a stand-out cross country runner. He made the decision, however, to put all his eggs into one basket for the post-season: the 800m. He had only ran the open 800m twice as a sophomore, twice as a junior, and just three times as a senior before Regional Weekend. After an emotional, come-from-behind win at the NCHSAA 3A Mideast Regional, Motondo knew he had more in the tank for the state championship.
Motondo took this victory to heart, as he shot his fist at our cameraman Dan Loughlin with one word spelled out on his fist, "Gio". Fast forward a week and this time Motondo lined-up at the NCHSAA State Championship at North Carolina A&T University. All eyes were on this anticipated match-up with CATA's Manny Williams. Like the regional, it was a gut-wrenching come-from-behind effort that came down to the final move, a dive at the line. Motondo reached out like Pete Rose sliding into third-base as he extended his body over the line, just milliseconds ahead of Williams. 1:54.96. A near five second best for Montondo.
After the race he ran into the crowd to hug his family, and then, just like the week prior, flexed that fist with his inspiration written on the back-side of his hand: "Gio".
Other nominees: Shawnti Jackson's Indoor National Record, Rocky Hansen's 4:00.75 Mile, Cuthbertson Break Two State Records in One Weekend