By Jason Creasy of NC Runners
This weekend's NCHSAA State Championships will be brought to you LIVE on FloTrack! You can watch this event live with the MileSplit Universal plan to unlock all of the rankings, photos, archived race video, and more. Photos and archived race video from the event will go up on Sunday morning. We're super excited that state meet weekend is finally here and are glad to be live-streaming the event for the first time in NCHSAA track and field history. Below you can find a preview of what you can expect from the team scores as well as a glance at the top events to watch for on Friday.
Girls Team Battle
It's a weird scenario that a team that didn't finish in the top two at its regional meet comes in as the favorites but that's the case for the 2A girls this outdoor season. DSA dominated the team scores at 2A Mideast last weekend, beating Cummings and T.W. Andrews. But DSA's distance runners likely won't score as many points at the state level as they did at the regional level, while Cummings and T.W. Andrews will have athletes contending for the win in almost every sprint and jump event.
T.W. Andrews won the indoor title with only four girls this season. It wasn't able to contend in the relays due to having such a small team, but it looks like the team added a few more athletes to make its lineup even stronger this outdoor season. Zacora McKnight has also emerged as a 300mH star and will look to take down the defending champion from Cummings, Kayla Moore. McKnight did beat Moore at the regional meet. The jumps will be crucial for both T.W. Andrews and Cummings, as they're projected to score 28 and 30 points in the events, respectively. T.W. Andrews' triple jump success over Cummings is what won it an indoor team title. Peighton Simmons and McKnight will face off with Kelsia Moore and Kenyae Majors in the triple jump, where they're projected to finish in the top four spots. Nicole Barnes will be Andrews' solo competitor in the long jump, as she will have the difficult task of trying to beat the Moore sisters and Majors from Cummings. The virtual meet projects T.W. Andrews over Cummings 91-83, but that has Andrews athletes over Cummings in the long and triple jump. If Cummings girls can have a better day in the jumps than Andrews, it'll be a massive points swing.
Last weekend at the East Regional, First Flight's Alex Rodman came from way back to run down Croatan on the anchor leg of the girls 4x800. It's reported Rodman's split was 2:14, giving First Flight the win 9:59.48 to 10:00.92. It'll likely be a battle between these two schools again. Croatan will need to give anchor Kayleigh Hanson a little bit of more room between herself and Rodman if it wants to take home the relay title.
It looks to be a battle between Parkwood's Anna Bristle and Lake Norman Charter's Mariah Howlett. Both have run very strong solo efforts of 5:02.70 and 5:03.80 this outdoor season. Howlett really hasn't seen a super strong 1600 field, and this battle with Bristle could propel her to a massive mark. Neither girl has won an individual state title before, and they'll leave it all on the track over four laps. I'd be surprised if Howlett was not the one to take the pace and Bristle sits just behind.
Zacora McKnight and Peighton Simmons (T.W. Andrews) will look to score massive team points in this event, as they come in with the two fastest times on the season. McKnight is the only girl in the field who has broken 25 seconds this season. Southwest Onslow's Tahalia Fairman and North Rowan's Payton Russell are expected to challenge the Andrews teammates. Both were regional champions, and they didn't seem like they were too challenged at the regional level. Russell is also the defending champion in this event, so there is no doubt she's going to be right there at the line.
First Flight's Alex Rodman beat top seed Kaleigh Hanson of Croatan at the East regional last weekend with a short break from running the open 400. Rodman plays soccer throughout the outdoor season, so we haven't seen much from her after her breakout indoor season in which she ran 2:14. Rodman will just be in the 4x800 before, so should be ready to hopefully blast a fast time. Hanson is not going to let Rodman run away with this and has the opportunity to run a big PR as she challenges Rodman. Don't count out Izzy Evely (LNC), who was the West champion last weekend. It wouldn't be a surprise to see her skip the 1600 earlier in the day to focus on winning the 800 after being on the podium last season.
Girls 300m Hurdles
Cummings' Kayla Moore is the defending champ and has the best PR in the field of 43.79, but we haven't seen her blast a blazing 300m hurdle time yet this season. Moore comes in with the fourth-fastest season best at 47.36, but she will very well be in the mix. T.W. Andrews' Zacora McKnight seems to have found her calling over the longer distance hurdles and based off season's best marks will be the favorite on Friday. McKnight has run 44.21 in the event this season.
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