After a drenched 2A regionals meet completed in the pouring rain a week ago in Catawba, the weather was nice and sunny Friday for the 2A state track meet held at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.
And several Wilkes County athletes participated against the best of the best in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association event, which was won handily by North Lincoln on the boys’ side (with 76.5 points, well ahead of second place Croatan) and Hugh Cummings for the girls’ meet (winners by a score of 90-50 over the Durham School of the Arts).
And 2019 might serve as a springboard for even better performances in 2020 (and beyond), as most of the Wilkes County participants were juniors, sophomores or freshmen.
Adam Winebarger of North Wilkes made the 110-meter hurdles finals and came in eighth, with a time of 15.97 seconds. He also finished 10th in the high jump, at 6-0. It was his first time competing at state in outdoor track (though Winebarger did make the indoor state meet this past winter, where he finished as the high jump runner-up).
“I got third in my preliminary race in the 100 hurdles and I was one of the few underclassmen competing,” said the Vikings’ junior. “So I’m really looking forward to next year, now that I know what to look for. I think next year won’t be as difficult as far as the completion is concerned.”
Winebarger is also already thinking about how he can improve his effort as a senior.
“I’m jumping too far away from the bar in the high jump, so that’s something I can definitely work on. And I need to approach my steps more consistently, too,” said Winebarger. “And on the hurdles I’m going to start working out of blocks. That will help me increase my speed and time next season.”
The North boys’ 4x400 team of Zack Carlton, Evan Sathre, Keshaun Tillman and Jacob Smithey ran a 3:32 — four seconds better than their time at regionals—to come in 10th. Sathre also finished 14th in the long jump, with a distance of 19-2.5.
West Wilkes enjoyed solid performances in the boys’ 4x800 relay and great individual performances from sophomores Hunter Wayne in the 400 and Kennedy Collins in the triple jump.
Austin Triplette, Zach Nuzzolilo, Nathan Hall and Wayne came in eighth in the relay, with a time of 8:40. And like Winebarger, all four runners will have an opportunity to return next spring.
“It was an amazing experience being at the championships, and facing the best runners in the state,” said Triplette. “This relay team is like a family and I love running with them. Since we are all underclassmen, I hope we can come back even stronger next year.”
Wayne took 13th place in the 400 meters, with a time of 53.72. Collins jumped 32-0 in the triple, good enough for 15th.
Wilkes Central featured two runners in the girls’ event, with freshman Maddie Beard running a 5:39 in the 1600 meters to finish 10th and junior Kylee Cheek turning in a time of 13.40 in the 100 meters preliminaries.
“I was very pleased with the way Kylee and Maddie performed,” said Wilkes Central Head Coach Dylan Johnson. “They both finished one place better than they were seeded, which means they finished better than they started. So I am very proud of the way those two competed.
“And the awesome thing is they are both coming back next year,” added Johnson. “If they put in the work, which I know they will, they could compete for the podium.”
East Wilkes’ Garrett Vernon was the county’s lone representative in the 1A state championship, which took place on Saturday at North Carolina A&T.
The junior captured 14th in the boys’ 100-meter dash with a time of 11.40 seconds — nearly three-tenths of a second faster than his regional time (11.67).
“Garrett worked very hard this season, which allowed him to be very successful this season,” said East Wilkes Head Coach Travis Chipman. “He had had a great year in sports and I look forward to see him compete next year as a senior.”
Notes: The Vikings and the Blackhawks finished in a tie for 57th place in the boys’ team completion, thanks to team points from North’s Winebarger and the West 4x800 team…None of the three 2A high schools registered a team point on the girls’ side…Croatan’s Brendon Hodge was named boys’ Most Valuable Player, winning both the 110 and 300 hurdles…Kendall Jordan of Cummings also won both hurdles events and earned the top spot in the triple jump to win the girls’ MVP award.