PHOTOS BY MICHAEL MCLOONE Pole vault winner Catie Simmons of Clayton clears the bar at 9 feet, 6 inches during the Greater Neuse River Conference track
CLAYTON -- One of the state's older track and field powerhouses and one of its newer ones showed the way at the Greater Neuse River 4-A Conference track and field championships on Thursday.
The veteran power, Southeast Raleigh's girls grew out of some of their youth and collected a team title. Meanwhile, Knightdale's boys continued to show why they are one of the state's best teams, overcoming injuries to claim their team title.
The Bulldogs prevailed in a tight battle with Clayton and West Johnston for the girls title, with their 4x400-meter relay team winning the day's final race. Freshmen Charity Lackey and Jackie Howell teamed with sophomore Amara Bell and senior Jaleah Wilder to take the race. Southeast totaled 157 points, West had 143 and Clayton had 136.
We rely on our seniors to lead and have put more on our freshmen and sophomores as they've become more confident and gained more experience, Southeast coach Liz Peartree-Gary said. I wanted to run more of the youngsters in the relay events today because we're not going to have the seniors like Danielle Davis, Jaleah Wilder and Shakira Worsley around here but for another month and a half.
Wilder won the 400 for Southeast, Bell took the high jump, Davis prevailed in the long jump (18 feet), and Sharmani Hall took the shot put (32-9). Davis also ran second to Clayton's Keni Harrison in the 100 and 100 hurdles.
Harrison, the girls MVP and national indoor hurdle champion, took the 100-meters (12.03), 200 (24.97), 100 hurdles (13.82) and 300 hurdles (42.59).
West Johnston posted three relay wins - the 400, 800 and 3,200 relays - and individual wins from Dakota Foskey in the 3,200 and Lauren Pollard in the 1,600.
Knightdale's boys finished with 159 points, well ahead of runner-up Clayton (108) and Harnett Central (100). The Knights' Joshua Dunston was the meet MVP with a win in the 110 hurdles (15.00) and runner-up finishes in the 300 hurdles and the long jump. Standout sprinter Mar-Keo Jones took the 100 title, and Ellis Burkheart Jr. prevailed in the 200 and 400. The Knights' 4x400 relay team also picked up a conference title.
We were able to get some wins today, score some points and get a few guys who have been battling injuries qualified for regionals, so that was really key, Knights coach David Castell said.
The eastern regionals will be held on May 7.
Girls champions included Knightdale's Tianna McHenry (800), Catie Simmons of Clayton (pole vault) and East Wake's Saffiyah Eleazer (discu