Local teams finish strong in Watauga Invitational 2
by Erik Spencer Hill
On Jan. 15, local runners took to the Mondo-style track at JDL Fast Track to participate in the second Watauga Invitational of the indoor season. The event drew teams from across northwestern North Carolina to compete in the event.
Local runners from Stokes County grabbed strong finishes in the indoor events and several athletes have qualified for the state meet on Feb. 9.
Vikings Coach Rodney King said that his team did “pretty well” for the first meet since the Christmas break.
Tess Rogers finished in third place in the 55-meter hurdles with a time of 10.3 seconds. Rogers followed up with a second place finish in the pole vault with a 10-foot vault.
Rogers, two time defending state 1A champion in the pole vault, already qualified for the state meet with a 10-foot vault earlier this year. Currently, Rogers is the number one 1A/2A/3A pole vaulter in the state.
Shalynn Brown had her season best time in the 300-meter dash with a time of 49.5 seconds, according to King.
“She is a great track athlete,” he said.
Mackenzie Lewellyn was hoping to qualify for states in the shot put event for the evening. King said that in recent practices she had been throwing the shot anywhere from 34-35 feet. At the Watauga Invitational, she was only able to muster a 26-foot, eight-inch throw.
“We are hoping that at our next home meet she will be able to chunk one out to the state qualifying line,” King said.
Sean Condon continues to excel in distance events this season. Condon grabbed a third place finish in the 1,000-meter run with a time of two minutes and 56 seconds. He followed up with a second place finish in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11 minutes and 45 seconds.
“Sean had a good race and competed hard,” King said. “He is very committed to the sports and is training harder than anyone we have ever had at the distance events.”
Senior Tyler Cromer finished in eighth place in the shot put event with a throw of 39 feet, seven inches — about a two foot improvement over the first Watauga Invitational over a month ago.
Since the beginning of the indoor track season in November, Cromer has added over six feet to his shot put throw.
“His improvements have been one of the highlights of the indoor season for our coaching staff,” King said.
Wildcats Coach Larry Weldon said that he was happy with the results of the invitational meet and that most of his runners had personal-best times in their events.
“We’re getting there,” he said. “We should be ready for the state meet.”
Several of West Stokes’ runners have qualified for states.
Past season football standouts Zane McGhee and Brock Reynolds have qualified for the state meet in dash events.
“They were happy,” Weldon said.
Reynolds and McGhee finished in first and second places in the 300-meter dash, with times just under 40 seconds. Brandon Starnes rounded out the top 10 in the event with a time of 42 seconds.
West Stokes distance runner Jason Barber also recently qualified for the state meet in February.
Barber grabbed first place finishes in both the 1,600-meter run (4:44) and the 3,200-meter run (10:44).
Coach Weldon said that Barber is well-trained for distance events.
“That’s where he is home and feels comfortable.”
Kaitlyn Stone is the distance specialist for the women’s team. Stone finished in first in the 1,600-meter run with a time of six minutes and six seconds.
Kyimura Oliver finished in third place in the 300-meter dash with a time of 46.8 seconds. Weldon said she is very close to qualifying for states if she can shave off a few seconds on her time.
The Sauras did not have many runners competing in many events at the second Watauga Invite. But, South Stokes managed to get a strong finish in the events they participated in, including some lesser-noticed events like the long jump.
Freshman Megan Fournier rounded out the top 10 in the long jump event with a jump of over 11 feet.
Tony Dalton finished in third place in the long jump event with a jump of 17 feet, 8 inches. Damon Flinchum finished in seventh place with a jump in 16 feet, 9 inches.
Dalton and Flinchum followed up with third (35’, 2”) and fourth place (33’, 10”) finishes in the triple jump event.
Dalton also finished in eighth place in the 500-meter run with a time of one minute and 22 seconds.
Zach Singleton had a fourth place finish in the shot put event with a throw of nearly 41-feet.
Stephan Rivas grabbed a seventh place finish in the 1,000-meter run with a time of three minutes and 23 seconds.
Distance runner Justin Nelson finished in second place in the 1,600-meter run with a time of four minutes and 59 seconds — just 15 seconds behind Wildcat Barber’s time.
Nelson followed up with a fourth place finish in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11 minutes and 13 seconds.
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