The Pinecrest girls’ track and field team saved the best for last on its way to winning the Southeastern Conference championship Wednesday in Pembroke.
The Patriots easily outdistanced runner-up Hoke County in taking the title, parlaying several outstanding performances that resulted in conference and Pinecrest records into 201 points to Hoke’s 144.
Fittingly, it was these two schools that went head-to-head in one of the meet’s most exciting races: the 4x400-meter relay.
As the sun set on UNC Pembroke’s stadium, the Pinecrest ‘A’ team of Macie Kavanaugh, Kate Sanborn, Grace West and Mary Margaret West took the track.
From the gun, Kavanaugh hung tight to Hoke County’s lead runner, rounding the final turn of her leg tied for first. Sanborn went hard around the first curve, chasing a quick Hoke County second leg. Coming around her final turn, Sanborn made up more distance to hand off to Grace West in a near tie for first.
Grace West rounded the first turn and passed Hoke’s third leg, starting to expand the lead before handing off to her sister Mary Margaret West having established a 10-meter lead on Hoke.
Mary Margaret West carried the comfortable lead through 300 meters, before Maya Singletary of Hoke County began her strong kick.
Down the home stretch, West fought to hold off Singletary and won the race by the dip of her head at the line, crossing with a school, and conference championship meet, record-breaking time of 3:57.80, a time that has stood firm at the school since 2012.
Veteran Patriot coach John Buchholz said that it was the first time one of his 4x400 girls’ team had broken the four-minute barrier.
That was not the only record-shattering performance for the Patriot girls.
In the 3,200-meter run, Rachel VonCannon set a conference championship meet record with her first-place finish of 11:50.90. Behind VonCannon were teammates Hannah Causey (12:27.30), Katie Ochoa (13:30.60) and Kayla Devine (14:09.30), who rounded out the top four spots.
Then it was Grace West’s turn, in the 800 run, to break a conference championship meet record (a record held by former Patriot long-distance star Jennie Cunningham), taking first while also setting a personal-best time of 2:16.19. Right behind West was fellow senior Sanborn, who crossed the line in 2:22.62, good for second place.
Although not record-breaking, Sanborn would add her own individual conference championship by claiming first in the 1,600 run.
She took command of the race early while heading to a final time of 5:19.10. Not far behind Sanborn were Causey and Rebecca Hipp, who took second and third place with 5:36.10 and 5:37.60, respectively.
The Patriot girls’ record-setting performances were capped off by Mary Margaret West in the field events. She won the pole vault, matching her own personal best and school record jump of 9-6. The jump was also good enough to set a new conference championship, a record that she recorded in last year’s conference meet.
Mary Margaret West added another first-place finish in taking the 300 hurdles with a time of 47.09. West and Kavanaugh raced well in the 400 dash, with West crossing in second place with a time of 58.90, followed closely by Kavanaugh in 59.54.
Ebony Nelson continued the Patriots’ success in the field events by winning the girls’ high jump with a mark of 5-0.
Patriots Trinity Wells and Tiasia Threadgill provided 24 points in the field events to the Patriots winning total. Threadgill won the discus with a toss of 101-1, with Wells throwing 84-8 for fourth place. Wells added a second in the shot put with a mark of 33-8.
Asia Adams took third place in the triple jump for the Patriots with a personal-best mark of 33-3.
Patriots Adams and Jada Brown took fifth and sixth place in the long jump with marks of 15-3 and 15-2, respectively.
The Patriot girls established their winning attitude right off the bat. To kick off the meet, the Pinecrest 4x800 relay team of Hipp, Emily Ettrich, VonCannon and Isabel Flores won the event in a time of 10:51.30.
Boys Finish Second
On the boys’ side of the championship meet, the Patriots finished second to a strong Hoke County team. Hoke collected 157 points to the Patriots’ 123.
Adam Horsley has an outstanding meet for the Patriots, earning the conference’s running event MVP award.
Horsley did yeoman work for the Patriots, claiming first in three long-distance events while also joining in on a winning relay team.
Horsley placed first in the 3,200 (with a time of 10:40.60), the 1,600 (4:54.50) and the 800 (2:08.44) runs. Horsley led a Patriot surge in all three events, with teammate Colin Alexander finishing second in all three events, while Isaiah McGilvary claimed the third spot in the 1,600 and 800, and fourth in the 3,200.
The 800 was really close as Horsley’s 2:08.44
Horsley combined with Nick Klug, Tommy Delaunay and Jordan Gray to take first in the 4x800 relay with a time of 8:32.80.
In the field events, Tyrese Kelly took first place for the Patriots in the triple jump by a large margin with a jump of 43-0.
Kelly added second in the high jump, placing second with a personal best jump of 6-6. Pinecrest’s Chris Owens set a personal best with his third-place jump of 6-2, qualifying for the regional meet. R.J. Covington jumped 6-0 to earn a fourth-place finish for the Patriots.
Grace West is a member of the Pinecrest girls’ track and field team.