GREENSBORO — The Mount Airy boys and girls track teams both finished in the top 10 at the state 1A track and field meet at N.C. A&T University Saturday.
Joktan Moore starred for the boys, while Kirsten Parries pulled off two dramatic finishes for the gold.
East Surry’s Ryan Simmons also performed well, earning fifth place in the high jump out of 14 finalists. He cleared 5-10 on his first jump and then cleared 6 feet. He nearly made 6-02 on one attempt, but couldn’t quite pass the bar in three attempts, which would have tied him for third place.
The morning began with the high jump and long jump taking place at the same time, while Mount Airy’s 4x800m relay team warmed up.
Moore leaped a season-best 22-04 to take the early lead in the long jump, but Johnny Oglesby, North Rowan, passed him by just 2 inches. Moore had to settle for second.
The triple jump (Moore’s best event) had to wait while Oglesby went over and won the 110m hurdles gold by nearly half a second.
Moore posted a jump of 44-01 early on, which was more than any of the competitors could match, except for Oglesby, who managed 44-09. However, Moore added another jump of 45-03 to take the lead for good.
The senior said he was hoping for 46 feet, but is glad to take the gold.
He had a long rehabilitation last fall after undergoing emergency surgery following a ruptured spleen in the Mount Airy/North Surry football game.
He said the doctors had told him to forget trying to play football, but he so wanted to come back to help with the playoffs that he began working out soon after being discharged from the hospital.
That hard work couldn’t get him back on the gridiron, but had him ready for winter indoor track and spring outdoor track.
After Moore ruined Oglesby’s chance at a morning trifecta, the North Rowan athlete good-naturedly pushed Moore on the podium.
The two would have one more head-to-head battle later in the day. They faced off in the 300m hurdles.
Oglesby won his third medal, and Moore finished third a split-second behind.
The three golds and a silver earned Oglesby the award for male most outstanding performer.
Also for the Bears’ boys team, Corey Valentine took fourth place in his heat in the 400m despite pulling up at the end and grimacing in pain. His time in the heat was good enough to place sixth overall.
East Surry had a team in the boys 4x100m relay, but circumstances caused the Cardinals to finish dead last.
East started on the far outside (lane 8). At the gun, the runner in lane six moved just before the signal and was called for the false-start violation. The signaling of an official on the outside of the track might have slowed the runners down.
The crew did not have the runners restart the event, and the Cards finished the race nearly 4 seconds slower than their regional time a week earlier.
On the girls side, the first track event of the day would prove to be one of the most thrilling.
In the 4x800, each girl would run half a mile. With Parries and Jordan Hiatt performing well individually in the 800m, the Bears were one of the favorites in the event.
Gray Stone Academy and Hendersonville jumped out to the lead, but Davi Barbour battled back to fight for second. Alex Mayes made up a lot of ground on Gray Stone, which looked to be pulling away from the field.
Jordan Hiatt kept the top team in hailing distance, then handed off to Parries.
With 200 meters left, Gray Stone had opened up about a 30-foot lead and one race official said to another, “It’s over now.”
Then Parries kicked into gear and closed up that gap, then she lunged forward at the finish to take the gold.
Afterward Parries thanked her teammates for giving her such a good start.
Coach Clarence Cropps said Mayes made a real difference. Unlike her three teammates, Mayes was running just this one event on the day and promised to give it everything she had.
“She had the P.R. of her life,” Cropps said, referring to the runner setting a personal record.
When the official time was revealed, both Mount Airy and Gray Stone had beaten the old record, so the Bears now hold the state record with 9:42.16.
Gray Stone had just beaten the Bears handily at the regional meet, noted Cropps, but this time the girls cut more than 22 seconds off their previous pace.
Conference foes Bishop McGuinness (third) and North Stokes (fourth) gave the Northwest three of the four places at the winners podium.
While the drama of that event would be hard to beat, Parries also had to make up a lot of ground on the last lap of the two-mile run at the end of the day.
After leading for the first half-mile, Parries said she was content to keep her rhythm going as two runners pulled away from her. Then at the 1.5-mile distance, she started to gain on them. She made it to second and then caught the leader at the start of the last straightaway. She kept going strong to win by more than a second.
Due to the intensity of the relay race and the looming two-mile run, Parries opted not to run the one-mile race for which she had qualified, too.
Barbour was neck-and-neck with two other girls in the last several strides of the 800m, but pulled ahead of them both to place fourth and earn a medal.
Hiatt ran the 400m Saturday, finishing sixth.
The girls team finished eighth in points, while the boys team was fifth.
Reach Jeff Linville at email@example.com or at 719-1920.