Mount Airy wins three 1A state track titles
Mount Airy sophomore Kirsten Parries may have picked up some new nicknames at Saturday‚Äôs 1A state track and field championships in Greensboro.
The Comeback Kid. Or maybe Kickin‚Äô Kirsten.
Amazing bursts of power over the final couple hundred meters in two separate races gave the Granite Bears a state championship in the 4×800 relay and helped Parries earn individual gold in the open 3,200 meters.
The two events headlined what was a stellar day overall for the Granite Bears, who also enjoyed a state title in the boys triple jump courtesy of Joktan Moore and earned a grand total of eight all-state performances. Mount Airy finished fifth overall in the boys standings and ninth among the girls.
The 4×800 relay, which featured Parries, Davi Barbour, Alex Mayes and Jordan Hiatt, seemed to set the tone of the day. The foursome finished a distant second to Gray Stone Day in the 1A Midwest Regional meet a week earlier at North Stokes. Gray Stone crossed in 9:51, while the Granite Bears clocked a time around 10:05.
‚ÄúLast week at regionals, they got ahead of us,‚ÄĚ Hiatt said. ‚ÄúWe knew this week we had to stay with them. We had to push with everything we had and give it our all.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs what transpired. Barbour and Mayes ran inspired early legs, then passed the baton to Hiatt, a standout basketball player who joined the track team full time for the first time this spring. Hiatt doggedly hung on the heels of Gray Stone‚Äôs No. 3 runner during her two laps, and the two teams were neck-and-neck as the anchor leg unfolded.
Parries ‚Äď a state champion in cross country back in the fall ‚Äď got the baton and grabbed the lead on her first lap. But by the second lap, Gray Stone had moved back in front by several steps. Mount Airy seemed destined for another silver, but on the final straightaway, Parries found a different gear. This time Gray Stone had no answer.
With less than 100 meters left, Parries moved to the outside and closed the gap completely. Her final few strides gave Mount Airy the gold by the narrowest of margins, 0.26 of a second.
‚ÄúI was feeling it around the turn,‚ÄĚ Parries said. ‚ÄúI could see the ring for me and my team. At the end, I just wanted it so bad.‚ÄĚ
Parries tumbled to the track after crossing the line. But she was up quickly and celebrating with teammates. That celebration took on an even deeper meaning when the group learned they had set a new 1A state record. Their final time? An amazing 9:42.16 ‚Äď more than 22 seconds faster than the week before.
‚ÄúSomebody else said we were going for 9:55, but we were just laughing about it,‚ÄĚ Hiatt said. ‚ÄúWe were like, ‚ÄėOur closest time is the 10:05.’ We surprised ourselves.‚ÄĚ
Parries was entered in the individual 1,600 meters but opted not to compete. She instead saved herself for the 3,200 meters later in the afternoon.
In that race, a pair of Hendersonville distance specialists, Elizabeth Lackey and Erin Brooks set the early pace. Lackey was coming off a commanding win in the 1,600 meters. Parries, who had mono earlier in the spring, worried the two might double-team her and wear her down.
But Brooks eventually fell off the pace. And Parries made her move to join Lackey at the very front. The script proved similar to the relay. Over the final 100 meters, Parries moved to the outside and simply pulled away. Her winning time was 12:10.51, while Lackey earned silver in 12:11.89.
Kickin‚Äô Kirsten had pulled off another comeback win.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs how it always ends up it seems,‚ÄĚ Parries said. ‚ÄúLike my coaches say to me all the time, I can‚Äôt go out and run their race. I have to run mine. But I feel like I have a pretty good sprint at the end. They wear themselves out trying to go too hard during the race. I am relaxing and then I go and sprint the rest out. That‚Äôs the best way I race.
‚ÄúI like that last 100. That‚Äôs my favorite part.‚ÄĚ
Joktan Moore took his turn at the top of the medals podium early in the day. He won the triple jump with a leap of 45 feet, 3.5 inches. Silver medalist Johnny Oglesby of North Rowan jumped 44-9.
‚ÄúI wanted to get a 46 to seal it in, but 45 won today,‚ÄĚ Moore said.
The Mount Airy senior is a comeback kid of another sort. He suffered a serious spleen injury back during football season and spent more than a week in the hospital. That ended his football career with the Bears and slowed his spring track preparations. But Moore was ready in the meet that counted most.
He earned silver in the long jump with a leap of 22-4 (Oglesby won with a jump of 22-6). Moore was third in the 300 low hurdles with a time of 39.76. He wasn‚Äôt far off the winning pace (39.08) set by champion Oglesby.
Barbour ran the open 800 meters, earning fourth place in 2:28.09. Hiatt ran the open 400 meters, placing sixth with a time of 1:01.73. Corey Valentine earned team points for the Bears by taking sixth in the boys 400 meters.
Mount Airy‚Äôs 1A conference rivals from Stokes County fared well in Saturday‚Äôs meet. North Stokes, with 42 points, finished third in the girls team standings behind champion Monroe (101) and Hendersonville (54).
Tess Rogers of North Stokes won the pole vault (10-6) and placed sixth in the 300 hurdles. Hannah McBride of North Stokes placed second behind Lackey in the 1,600 meters and was fifth in the 3,200. Teammate Jordan Amos was fourth in the 3,200 meters.
Other top individual finishers for North Stokes included Moriah Boyette (fourth in pole vault), Austin Mabe (fifth in shot put) and Micayla Mitchell (seventh in 100 hurdles). Elizabeth Klapmeyer, Taylor Mabe, Amos and McBride ran to fourth place in the 4×800.
Aaron Pentasuglia and Tylesha Goolsby of South Stokes both earned silver medals in the discus. Goolsby also placed fifth in the shot put.
Other top finishers for South Stokes included Justin Rogers (fourth in discus), Allison Perrell (fifth in high jump), Chris Cornelius (seventh in pole vault), Danielle Jessup (eighth in triple jump) and Curtis Welch (eighth in 110 hurdles).
Ryan Simmons of East Surry placed fifth in the high jump.
FOR COMPLETE 1A STATE MEET RESULTS, CLICK HERE: 1A STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS