GREENSBORO — Athletes from 68 high schools met at the 2014 North Carolina 1A Track and Field Championships at North Carolina A&T Friday.
It was hot and then hot and windy and then just windy, but when it was all said and done, the Starmount women — with a team of five — finished second, losing by seven points to Bishop McGuinness as the Villains captured second place and eight points in the day’s last event to win it.
All five Rams scored, led by Samantha Welborn’s wins in the discus and shot put and Hunter Welborn’s win in the high jump. Starmount also picked up points with Welborn’s third-place finish in the triple jump: Emma Sizemore’s third-place finish in the pole vault; and their 4x200- and 4x100-meter relay teams, both comprised of Jennifer Johnson, Laken Steelman, Emma Sizemore, and Hunter Welborn, third- and fifth-place finishes.
Samantha threw 112 feet, 10 inches to win the discus. Hannah Matheson of Andrews was second at 111-03. Her winning shot put was 35-10, but on her last throw — with the title already in hand — Samantha added three-quarters of an inch to her winning throw to finish officially at 35-10.75. Stevie Sutton of Cherokee was second with a throw of 35-07.5.
After her second win, Samantha said, “I feel amazing; unstoppable. I came here and did what I needed to do.”
While her fellow shot put competitors rested between throws in the finals, Samantha went to the unused circle and practiced. She said she was concerned about the way she was “turning my toe.” She said she also was “working on opening up the box. Using my abs,” she explained.
Even with the title clinched, Samantha said she made the last throw in an attempt to beat her personal best of 38 feet.
The discus wasn’t what Samantha wanted distance-wise. “It was rough,” she said. “I really wanted 120.
“But I’m happy I did what I did today. To win both, to me, is amazing.”
Samantha said her mother, Teresa, told her she wanted two state championships for Mother’s Day. Samantha delivered. “Best Mother’s Day gift a mom could ask for,” she said, adding she did buy her mother something for Mother’s Day “just in case.”
“I’ve been telling Samantha all year, ‘this is your year,’” Starmount Coach Emily Curtis said.
Hunter clinched the high jump at a 1A state-meet record-tying 5-08. She made two attempts at 5-08.5 before calling off a third attempt to stay fresher for her remaining events. Kylie Polsgrove of Avery County pushed Hunter, clearing 5-06, but could not clear 5-08.
Hunter was excited when she realized she had won at 5-08, but a little disconcerted when she found out she could keep going. “I got all excited,” she said, “and then they wanted me to break the record.”
She said she was confident, but when Polsgrove jumped 5-06, Hunter said she felt the pressure. “I was definitely nervous,” she said.
It was Hunter’s third straight state outdoor high jump title. The first two came at 2A state meets in 2012 and 2013. She also won the high jump and the triple jump during the 2013-2014 indoor season. Throw in the 2013 1A volleyball championship, Hunter leaves Starmount as a six-time state champion.
Hunter’s triple jump was 36-04.5.
Sizemore broke her personal record in the pole vault by a foot, clearing 9-06 to take third in the pole vault.
“Emma had a great day in the pole vault,” Starmount Coach David Oliver said. “She was out on a new pole this week and she did great with it.
“Third place as a junior. She knows she’s there now. She knows she’s with the top girls in the state.”
The 4x200-meter relay team ran a 1:51.55, while the 4x100 team ran a 52.47.
“We had a great year,” Hunter said. “Last year, we were ranked really low.”
“They’ve had a great effort,” Oliver said. “Curtis has done a good job. You’ve got those athletes, Samantha and Hunter, the relay teams; they’re great kids. They run hard. They’re easy to coach.”
“We had an awesome day,” Curtis said. “My girls showed up to compete.
“I’m just really pleased with the efforts, the attitude. I can’t say enough about my girls. We were in the lead with five athletes.
“We haven’t had a chance to compete on this level since I’ve been coaching.”
Oliver and Curtis began to realize after the field events the position the Rams were in. “I think it really shocked us,” Curtis said. “We didn’t realize it was going to come down to the last race.”
Starmount won only one meet during the regular season.
Steelman also won the 2014 Farm Bureau Sportsmanship Award.
Starmount juniors shine
The Starmount men had promising performances from two juniors: Josh Houser and Jake Matthews. Houser bounced back from a disappointing 13th-place finish in the shot put to take second in the discus with a throw of 138 feet even.
“Josh had a tough day in the shot,” Oliver said. “It’s something that happens. You just got to go on to the next event and that’s kind of tough.
“It says a lot about him for him to come back and have a good day throwing the discus.”
Matthews finished ninth in the high jump at 5-10; and 10th in the long jump at 19-04.5.
The Starmount men’s 4x400-meter relay team, comprised of Xavier Davis, Austin Hicks, Logan Styers, and Matthews, finished 11th.
“Jake had a good day,” Oliver said. “It’s good experience for coming back next year.”
Those who finished in the top four in each event are all-state.
Complete meet results are available at nc.milesplit.com.
Jim Fuller may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @elkinareasports.