Patriots Head to State Track Meet
About two months of training in mostly mild but sometimes frigid temperatures have about 20 hardy Pinecrest athletes ready to see what they can do at Saturday’s NCHSAA 4-A State Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Patriot senior Jennie Cunningham hopes to add a third state indoor title in the 1,000-meter run to her long list of running accomplishments. Most of the individual qualifying has taken place outdoors at competitions appropriately called Polar Bear meets.
Saturday’s championships will be held at the just over a year old, state-of-the-art 105,000-square-foot JDL Castle Fast Track facility in Winston-Salem. The 4-A competition is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
“Some days the temperature definitely makes us push a little harder, but we’re stronger for it,” Cunningham said before a workout at the Pinecrest track on a relatively mild Monday. “The temperature is the least of our worries.
“This group of people is so unique and entertaining that we have fun no matter what the temperature is. When it’s super windy, that’s a different story.”
The qualifiers for the Patriot girls in the individual events also include Hannah Hensley (high jump, long jump), Janea Williams (high jump), Jaleigh Jensen (1,600-meter run), Kelsey Rea (500-meter dash) and Mulloy Manning (3,200-meter run).
The Patriots are also qualified for the 1,600 and 3,200 relays. In addition to the above, the runners for those events will be selected from a group that includes Katie Hayes, Sarah Pressley, Rachel VonCannon, Zia Matti, Grace West and Christina Stone.
Expected to represent the Patriot boys in individual events are Matt Carrlson (shot put), Jay Harris (pole vault), Will Pearson, Chris Kelly and Jacob Troutman (1,600), Becket Killam (1,000) and Kelly, Pearson and Matt Harmody (3,200).
In addition to the runners above, Cody Warner and Javier Bustos are candidates to represent the Patriots in the 3,200 relay.
Troutman, a senior, has embraced running as a year-round endeavor since taking it up in his junior year after concentrating on soccer throughout most of his youth. Qualifying with a seed time of 4:37, he would like to finish around 4:30, which would likely put him in the top 10.
He has run in qualifying meets at JDL Fast Track three times and prefers the 200-meter oval as compared with the 400 outdoors.
“It feels like you’re going faster, and for me it’s easier to go faster because of that,” he says. “I’ll go out hard and see what happens.”
Cunningham has two regional outdoor titles in the 800-meter run to her credit and has been the runner-up in that event at the state outdoor meet the last two years. Five of the top six placers at last year’s indoor meet were underclassman.
The seed times of the expected contenders have been above Cunningham’s winning time of 2:57 last February, but she’s confident it will take that or better to win again.
“By now you know the ability of everyone else, including the newcomers,” she says. “It’s a great pack of girls that I’m going to be up against. I admire and respect all of them and still hope I come out on top.
“Having run 2:57 last year, I’d like to shoot for the state record (2:56.7), but we’ll see.”
According to Pinecrest girls’ coach John Buchholz, the number of athletes committing to the winter season training has been on the increase from year to year.
“We’re pretty much brothers because we all work together, which is pretty nice to have,” Troutman says. “We’re all kind of out there, and odd in a way, but it works.”
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