WINSTON-SALEM, NC – Some new faces found their way to the top of the team awards at the NCHSAA 3A Indoor Track & Field State Championships at the JDL FastTrack. Franklin men and Dudley women stunned the perennial favorites over the last several years, Croatan and North Lincoln, to bring home well-earned state titles.
The Franklin Panthers collected their first Men’s Indoor Track & Field State Championship largely due to their dominance in the Pole Vault. The Panthers placed first, second, and fourth in the event, collecting 23 points on their way to a 60.5-49 victory over Croatan. Blake Cassada led the Panthers in the Pole Vault, clearing 13’ 6”, besting his teammate Adam Rodgers who cleared 13’ to finish second. Aaron Jennings placed fourth for Franklin in the Pole Vault, going over at 12’ 6” to collect five team points.
North Lincoln distance runner Stephen Fernetti was selected as the Most Outstanding Performer in the men’s meet, grabbing a first place finish in the 1600 Meters and picking up a pair of fourth place runs in the 1000 Meters and 3200 Meters to contribute a total of 20 points to the third place effort for the Knights. Fernetti completed the 1600 in 4:26.46, taking down the 1000 in 2:36.84 and the 3200 in 10:02.38.
Croatan’s men’s team finished second in the meet, earning a pair of relay wins in the 1600 Meter Relay and the 3200 Meter Relay. Trey Austin, James Wallace, Matthew Quispe, and Luke Nicolajsen earned the top of the podium in the 3200 Meters, combining for a time of 8:12.53. Later in the evening Cooper Stevens, Brayden Stephens, Nicolajsen, and Quispe teamed up to post a winning time of 3:26.47 in the 1600 Meter Relay.
The Dudley women powered their way to the program’s third Indoor State Championship all time, but their first since winning back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. The Panthers edged Franklin 50-49 despite not claiming an individual State Championship in the meet.
The Panthers were the class of the field in the 55 Meter Hurdles placing two athletes in the top three of the event to earn 14 points. Senadzi Rankin completed the hurdles in 8.28 seconds in the final to best her teammate Tanzania Washington who finished third with a time of 8.54 seconds. They also got a solid finish in the 500 Meter Run from Nathalya Daniels and Gabrielle Cheek who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the event.
Southern Guilford’s Tianna Spinks was the Most Outstanding Performer for the 3A Women’s Indoor Track Meet. She collected first place finishes in the 300 and 500 Meter events. She also placed third in the 55 Meter Dash. Spinks sprinted to a time of 39.96 seconds in the 300 and won the 500 in just 1:16.91.
There were two other performances of note in the women’s meet, Janiya Johnson tied the 3A Indoor State Meet Record in the 55 Meter Dash, completing the course in 7.00 seconds. Her time tied the 1996 mark set by Sabrina Thompson from Fike. The other 3A Meet Record to fall was in the Triple Jump as Cramer’s Alexis Willis jumped 39’ 7” to best the 38’ 9” mark set by Chelsea Hargrave from Williams back in 2014.
The NCHSAA is committed to promoting good sportsmanship at all athletic events and has partnered with the North Carolina Farm Bureau to present the NC Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Awards to two athletes from each NCHSAA Championship Event. The 3A Women’s Sportsmanship Award Winners were Gabrielle Cheeks from Dudley and Laura Covarrubias from Franklin. The Sportsmanship Award Winners on the Men’s side were Aaron Jennings from Franklin and Brayden Stephens from Croatan.