Briley Arnold wasn’t supposed to win the 100-meter hurdles at the Class AA state championship track & field meet Saturday at Spring Valley High in Columbia.
When she did, however, the Waccamaw girls team was off and running toward the school’s first-ever state title in the sport.
“That was the motivation for the rest of the day,” said the Warriors’ Amelia Jones, a senior who won the 3,200 meters (12:08.71). “When we saw she could win that event when she wasn’t supposed to, we knew we could win these other events.”
Arnold, a sophomore, won the 100-meter hurdles in 16.16 seconds, took the title in the 400-meter hurdles (1:04.68) and was part of the gold medal-winning 3,200-meter relay team, which also featured Jones, Mary Butler Despain and Samantha Kelly. The Warriors wound up with 69 points for a 13-point margin of victory over Bishop England.
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“It was really just a balance,” Waccamaw coach Bill Peterman said. “It’s just a tribute to all the kids.”
It was Peterman’s fourth state championship, having already won three boys titles (two with Andrews and one with Carvers Bay). However, he was quick to credit fellow coaches Eric Sparkman, Tracy Knox, Bob Siemeda, Elliott Haynie and Brian White.
“We’ve got a really strong staff. I don’t want to take the credit myself by any means,” Peterman said. “It was an overall great day for the whole entire program.”
The Waccamaw boys team also had a historic finish as sophomore Jackson Junkins led the way by winning both the 400 and 200 meters as the Warriors finished runners-up to the Battling Bishops.
“The boys only qualified in five events,” Peterman said. “We let the chips fall where they may and had it work out for us.”
Junkins finished five hundredths behind the state record in the 200 and was less than a second behind the state mark in the 400 meters.
“I worked like all summer for it. I worked all through winter and fall,” Junkins said. “I worked really hard to get where I am now and it all paid off.”
Jones, a multiple state champion in both cross country and track saw her high school career come to an end Saturday. However, she leaves her senior season as a state champ in both sports, goals she has talked about for several years now.
“That was definitely the most exciting part, winning as a team,” she said. “Just because it was something Waccamaw has never done. With it being my last year, it was exciting and rewarding in itself.”
Bears grab titles
Carvers Bay came away with state titles in five events during the Class A meet.
Freshman Melissa Jefferson took first in the 100 (12.00) and 200 meters (25.13) and was part of the Bears’ gold medal-winning 400-meter relay team 400-meter relay team – Tiera Young, Angel Holmes, D’Essence Dozier and Jefferson – that finished in 49.90.
On the boys side, freshman Toronto King (long jump, first, 22-2 1/2) and Norman Goss (discus, first, 162-0) also claimed gold.
In Class AAAA, a pair of boys from Carolina Forest and Conway competed.
Carolina Forest senior Angel Perez was eighth in the shot put (45-5) and junior Dyverse Simmons placed fifth in the long jump (21-8 3/4).
Conway sophomore Raiqwon O’Neal-Thompson competed in two events (shot put, seventh, 45-11; discus, seventh, 136-1) and senior Malik Humes placed seventh in the long jump (21-6 3/4).
Alexus Alston’s biggest hurdle proved one she couldn’t have anticipated.
One of the favorites to win the 400-meter hurdles in the Class AAA state championship meet, the St. James junior was slowed early in the race when a competitor in a lane next to her pulled a hamstring and fell into her lane, leading to a runner-up finish (1:07.34) that was a little over a second behind Emerald’s Elizabeth Self (1:06.11).
“It slowed her,” Sharks coach Ken McSorley said. “She kind of jumped around the girl who fell with an injury. But it’s no big conspiracy.
“She did everything she could to keep it together. It was exciting.”
Alston also placed fifth in the 100-meter hurdles (15.49) and seventh in both the 100 meters (12.64) and triple jump (33-11).
“She had a busy day. Four individual events – that’s taking a lot on,” McSorley said. “… She is so motivated (for next year) without a doubt.”
Other Sharks who were in the girls competition included eighth-grader Ka’Mauri Humes (200m, seventh, 25.66) and junior Felicity Weber (pole vault, fifth, 9-0).
The North Myrtle Beach girls 400-meter relay team (Alliyiah Hemingway, Kyla Bowles, Malaaysia Williams, Medinah Williams) finished sixth (50.60).
In boys action, St. James junior Trey Myers wound up sixth hundredths of a second off winning a state title in the 400-meter hurdles (54.32), finishing just behind Berkeley’s Keishaun Limehouse.
“He was tearing it up down the stretch,” St. James coach Jacob Sheuer said. “He ran him down and we thought he had got him.”
Myers also placed fifth in the 110-meter hurdles (15.30) and senior Jelin Bellamy (400m, eighth, 50.66).
“I’m really excited about the next coming years,” said Scheuer, in his first season as head coach after several as an assistant with the program. “Getting some of these guys to make it to the state championship and place at the state finals helps build the program. It gets kids exciting and some of the ones who did not come out this year might be interested in coming out. It creates competition and the better the competition, the better the results.”
As for Myers moving forward?
“We’re looking forward to him coming back and bringing it home (next year),” Scheuer said.
Georgetown junior Reggie Point was second in the high jump (6-4).
With the Waccamaw girls winning a state title, several performers aside from the gold medalists helped bring it home.
In fact, one runner came a mere 2 hundredths of a second short of a state title. Despain finished second in the 800 meters (2:26.54), crossing the finish line just .02 behind Bishop England’s Emma Lawrence. She also placed seventh in the 1,600 meters (5:58.37).
Freshman Tyaisha Edwards (100m, sixth, 12.38; 200m, fourth, 25.64), sophomore Jamisa Lewis (shot put, sixth, 32-5) and Jones (1,600m, fourth, 5:36.44) also provided additional points for the Warriors. Waccamaw’s 1,600-meter relay team placed sixth (4:21.60).
Aynor sophomore Bailey Johnson placed eighth in the 3,200 meters (13:31.33).
In boys action, Junkins added another podium finish in the pole vault (third, 12-6) as the Warriors placed second behind Bishop England. Waccamaw’s 1,600-meter relay team was runner-up (3:29.03).
The Carvers Bay girls team placed fourth in Class A, with several non-state champions adding pivotal points.
Senior Anatashia Bromell (long jump, seventh, 15-4; triple jump, fifth, 33-7) and freshman Jada Porcher (high jump, second, 4-10) provided individual points, while the 3,200-meter placed (sixth, 8:55.38) and 1,600-meter relay teams (eighth, 4:39.55) tacked on more.
Green Sea Floyds sophomore Caitlin Jackson (1,600m, seventh, 7:27.23) and junior Zian Johnson (triple jump, seventh, 28-1) provided points for their squad.
In boys action, senior Laterence Davis (1,600m, eighth, 5:31.42), freshman Torey Matthews (3,200m, seventh, 11:52.15) and sophomore D’Quarius Pressley (shot put, fourth, 44-7) helped the Bears to a seventh-place finish. Carvers Bay’s 1,600-meter relay team (Daronn Clark, Xavier Drayton, Timothy Young and James Milton) placed seventh (3:50.26).