For the Ashley Hall track and field program, the fourth time is the charm.
After three consecutive runner-up finishes, Ashley Hall captured its first state championship in track and field since 1995, winning the SCISA Class AAA girls state title with a balanced effort on Saturday. Porter-Gaud won its third consecutive boys state title.
Ashley Hall senior sprinter Brenyce Watson won gold in the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprints, while finishing third in the long jump to lead the charge to 132.50 points, well ahead of second-place Heathwood Hall (89). Porter-Gaud was third in the team standings with 78 points.
“These girls have been doing it all year, in every meet, so we felt we had a chance,” said coach John Slepitz. “You just never know what will happen on this day. With the weather and the competition here, you just hope your team performs to the level they are capable of. We were really good today. I am so proud of them. We set some school records today and we had some girls really step up.”
Ashley Hall won two of three relays in the meet and scored valuable points in the jumps and throws. Junior Isabella Alfaro repeated as state champion in the 800 meter run while anchoring the gold medal 3200 meter relay unit. Alfaro almost did not compete in the state meet after tweaking a hamstring in practice earlier this week.
“She almost had convinced herself that she wasn’t going to be able to do it, but I knew if she would get on the track and position herself to win, she would get it done,” said Slepitz. “Mentally, once she convinced herself she could run, there was no stopping her.”
Porter-Gaud junior Brent Demarest set a boys state record (9:43.92) in the 3,200-meter run on his way to four gold medals. Demarest also won the 1,600- meter run, the 800-meter run, and ran on the winning 4x800 relay team.
Porter-Gaud’s Travis Barnett threw the discus 151-91/2 to win the gold and set a state record. Just moments before his record-setting throw, teammate Jacob Salley tossed a record 148-8. Salley ended up third in the event.
“We really over-performed today,” said Cylcones coach Larry Salley. “We peaked at the right time and we met our expectations. I am really especially proud of our seniors. This is one of the best senior classes we’ve ever had. They did a great job of being leaders and managing the expectations. They were outstanding today.”
Palmetto Christian Academy had strong showings in the boys and girls AA/A state meet, each finishing second in the team standings. Joe Siegwald won gold in the 200 meter dash, the triple jump and the long jump for the boys team.
Adam Graudin won the 400-meter dash and Mitch Hogan won the 400-meter hurdles gold medal. PCA also won the 1,600 relay title.
Winning state titles for the girls team were Maggie Hogan (pole vault), Abbey Fesler (discus), Annie Pascutti (400 hurdles, long jump).