More than two dozen athletes representing the four high schools in Wilmington will be competing at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A meet at Irwin Belk Track on the campus of North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro on May 9.
Top four finishers in the 18 events qualified for states out of the East Regional as the Ashley girls team took fourth, while New Hanover boys placed fifth.
“Any time you go to the state meet it’s more of an honor because there are years that you can’t go,” said Ashley Track & Field Coach Ryan Hauck. “The fact you can get somebody to states in general says something about your program and to have as many as we do going says a lot about this area.
“I’ve been here since 2005 and just the level of competition between the county schools has gotten so much better every year. There were times at the region where we’re cheering for everybody else and they do the same because we are representing Wilmington.”
East Carolina commit Jamie Stacey will be joined by Russell Corbett, Amy Lee, Jackson Denton and Jeremy Burgess as the only local standouts to participate in more than one event in Greensboro.
Stacey captured top spot in long jump, triple jump and took second place in the 200 meter dash at the regional meet.
“I overcame a lot mentally and emotionally over the past year and I really have to thank my dad, Destiny [Godfrey] and all my coaches for helping me refocus and push me through this,” said Stacey, who missed last season after being diagnosed with bilateral pars defect, which is when your vertebrae slip in and out of place. “My teammates have always supported me and I’m thankful for that.”
Although the senior sprinter and jumper is ready for the challenges ahead and eager to prove herself at the next level, Stacey has some business to take care of on Saturday.
“I’m very proud of all those who made it to states,” Stacey said. “They’re all very hard workers and it’s going go to be very cool to have all that support there. I’m just real happy and thankful that all of us will get a chance to compete for a state championship. My goal is to win the long jump.”
Corbett (Ashley) will compete in the shot put and discus, while Godfrey runs alongside Stacey in the 200 meter dash. Tyree Gathright will also represent Ashley in the high jump.
Lee will run in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles as one of nine athletes to advance for New Hanover. The Wildcats will also have runners in the boys 4 X 800 meter relay, boys 300 meter hurdles, and boys 800 meter run.
Denton placed first in the 800 meter run and serves as the last leg in the 4 X 800 relay.
Dominique Dalton is scheduled to throw in the girls shot put for Laney after placing second at regions. She was the Mideastern Conference champion this spring and will be going to states as one of the top-ranked performers across North Carolina.
Senior Mykol Branch (Laney) took first-place in the high jump to qualify for states, while Norah Stapleton, Kaitlyn Kern, Erin Coon and Haley Smithwick will run in the girls 4 X 800 relay for the Bucs.
“We had some good performances to get us into the state meet and have been working hard this week looking to improve,” said Laney Coach Samuel Bobbitt. “I thought our relay team ran really good, Dominique has been strong for us all season and Mykol is a solid jumper. If he hit that 6-foot-9-inch plateau, he’ll have a chance to place in the top three.”
Pole vaulters Heather Keck (Ashley) and Daniel Suggs (Ashley) also earned gold in the regional. Hoggard’s Peyton Apel and Sarah Pellizzarri placed second in long jump and 3,200 meter run, respectively.
The Screaming Eagles will send eight to the state meet, followed by Laney with seven and Hoggard with six.
“We really have a great group of athletes across the county and each team brings something different to the table,” Bobbitt said. “Each school seems to have one or two across the board that are strong in certain events. If we could get 10-15 high level competitors per school, it would make us really competitive when it comes time for states because healthy competition throughout the year pushes you to be better and gives you that drive.”
Area qualifiers for state meet
Shot put: Dominique Dalton (Laney); Russell Corbett (Ashley); Sylvester Smith (Hoggard)
Discus: Sarah Jonkheer (New Hanover); Russell Corbett (Ashley)
High jump: Charlotte Jones (New Hanover); Mykol Branch (Laney); Tyree Gathright (Ashley); Iley Fisher (Laney)
Pole vault: Heather Keck (Ashley); Daniel Suggs (Ashley); Luke Abraham (Ashley); Terren Williams (Hoggard); Ryan Goodwin (Hoggard)
Long jump: Jamie Stacey (Ashley); Peyton Apel (Hoggard)
Triple jump: Jamie Stacey (Ashley)
4 X 800 meter relay; Norah Stapleton, Kaitlyn Kern, Erin Coon, Haley Smithwick (Laney); Henry Kunz, Will Parker, Shaffer Lisle, Jackson Denton (New Hanover)
100 meter hurdles: Amy Lee (New Hanover)
110 meter hurdles: Tyreek Carr, (New Hanover); Jeremy Burgess (New Hanover)
300 meter hurdles: Amy Lee (New Hanover); Jeremy Burgess (New Hanover)
800 meter run: Jackson Denton (New Hanover)
200 meter dash: Jamie Stacey (Ashley); Destiny Godfrey (Ashley)
3200 meter run: Sarah Pellizzari (Hoggard); Sarah Silika (Ashley); Ben Schmidt (Hoggard)