CATAWBA — In the 2007 movie “No Country for Old Men,” a deputy surveying a crime scene says to the town’s sheriff, “It’s a mess, ain’t it, Sheriff.”
To which the sheriff responds, “If it ain’t, it’ll do till a mess gets here.”
Saturday’s North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2A West Regional at Bandys High School was a mess from start to finish. Rain drenched the track and field from early morning until about 1:30 p.m., when thunder — first heard rumbling in the distance — got close enough to force organizers to delay the meet for a spell.
But the athletes persevered in the deluge, including a talented contingent from three of the four Wilkes County high schools. And all three schools in attendance — North Wilkes, West Wilkes, and Wilkes Central — produced qualifiers for the state meet this Friday in Greensboro.
No one was better than North’s Adam Winebarger, a junior who made it to state in two events. After finishing fourth in the high jump with a jump of 5-11, Winebarger dominated the 110 hurdles, easily outpacing second place Kevin Cervantes of Fred T. Foard with a time of 15.34.
“Adam never ceases to amaze me,” said North Wilkes Head Coach Brian Holloway. “He is so talented and makes it look so easy.
“Adam has battled this season with some leg issues and has a few things to work on to compete at the state level in both events,” continued Holloway. “But he knows he has another year and is working through the entire process and not just looking at end results.”
Evan Sathre was another double-qualifier for Holloway’s Vikings. Sathre finished third in the long jump (at 19-11), and was a member of the school’s 4x400 relay team — along with Zack Carlton, Keshaun Tillman, and Jacob Smithey — that finished fourth with a time of 3:36.
“For Evan, the long jump has been a battle this season, and he couldn’t break through until conference. With the conditions Saturday it was more about who could adapt and keep good form, which allowed Evan to move on,” said Holloway.
West Wilkes also had several athletes move on to Greensboro, including the boys’ 4x800 team of Austin Triplette, Nathan Hall, Zach Nuzzolilo and Hunter Wayne. The Blackhawks finished with a time of 8:40 in the driving rain.
“Everyone we brought to regionals are amazing competitors,” said West Wilkes Head Coach Jason Adams. “We had discussed early in the day how the weather was going to be terrible, but to use it to their advantage by being mentally tough despite the conditions.
“It shows great character and heart that Nuzz, Hunter, Austin, and Nate had their best times this year in those conditions.”
Kennedy Collins also qualified for state with a triple jump mark of 32-00.
“Kennedy stepped up big and finished third in the triple jump, even though he she was seeded sixth,” said Adams. “Doing that in the pouring rain exemplifies how tough and fierce she is.”
Wayne also made state in the highly competitive 400 meters. Wayne finished third at 52.41, less than two seconds behind first-place finisher Josh Hardin of Ashe County, who also won the 200 meters. North’s Carlton and West’s Nuzzolilo also had solid times in the event.
Two Wilkes Central athletes — Maddie Beard and Kylee Cheek — will also make the trip to Greensboro. Beard finished third in the 1,600 meters with a time of 5:37, and Cheek took fourth in the 100 meters at 13.59.
Other athletes who didn’t quite make Greensboro still had solid performances Saturday. Wilkes Central’s 4x100 relay team won its heat with a time of 56.13, though that wasn’t enough to qualify. And that race came in the midst of some of the morning’s worst rain.
Central’s Cat Chaquea, who ran the first leg of that race, said, “Before the race I had the baton in my T-shirt, just trying to keep it as dry as I could. I knew how important hand-offs would be, especially on a day like this.”
Chaquea also mentioned the importance of veteran leadership in the team’s preparation for the relay, which the Eagles had in the form of Cheek.
“Kylee has been here before,” said the Central sophomore. “And she helped us know what to expect. She also helped us make sure we had the right shorts, had our jewelry off…all those little things you might forget in the hectic minutes before a race. Kylee calmed us down and got us focused mentally.”
Notes: The state meet will be held Friday at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A & T University. The 3A state meet will be held there on the same day…North Wilkes finished fifth on the boys’ side for the team results, ahead of West Wilkes (14th) and Wilkes Central (25th). North Lincoln won the boys’ meet with 161 points, well ahead of Ashe County in second…North Lincoln also won the girls’ meet with 90 points. Wilkes Central finished 16th, West Wilkes was 20th and North Wilkes came in 24th…East Wilkes participated in the 1A West regional at Lenoir-Rhyne Monday, which was postponed from Saturday because of weather (See Friday’s Journal-Patriot for full recap).