Ashley Hall girls, Porter-Gaud boys look to make noise

Ashley Hall's Lauren Smith will be competing in her seventh SCISA state track and field championships this weekend in Columbia.

Wilson Hall is a favorite to win Saturday's SCISA Class AAA state track meet, but look for the Ashley Hall girls and Porter-Gaud boys to fare well.

In the girls competition, 10 points could separate Wilson Hall, Ashley Hall and host Heathwood Hall.

In the boys meet, Porter-Gaud appears to have enough depth to score 80 points, but will probably need to top 110 points to overtake Wilson Hall, which has won three straight boys titles and five of the last six.

Ashley Hall coach John Slepetz likes the makeup of his team.

"We're very competitive this year. We have the best sprinters Ashley Hall has ever had, a solid, young distance corps and some good field events veterans, all of whom should score for us this Saturday," Slepetz said. "That said, I don't think anyone has an answer for the combined quality and depth of Wilson Hall this spring. If events hold to form, Ashley Hall and Heathwood Hall should be locked in a close battle for second place that probably won't be determined until the outcome of the last race of the day. We'll be especially strong in the long jump, high jump, 3,200, 400 hurdles, and all three relay events, but I expect us to score in nearly every event we're competing, so it should be an exciting day."

Ashley Hall senior captain Lauren Smith will be competing in her seventh state meet. She is the school record holder in the high jump (5-2) and 200-meter dash (26.7), and is a member of the school's record-setting 4x100- and 4x400-meter relay teams.

Junior Hannah Poulnot is the school record holder in the 100-meter dash (12.9). She was third in the state last year in the long jump and 200, and was fourth in the 100.

Junior Miller Bianucci is the defending state champ in the 3,200 run and a member of the 4x800 relay team, which holds the state record.

Porter-Gaud boys coach Larry Sally thinks his team will fare better than last year's effort.

"Heathwood Hall seems to be the next best after Wilson Hall," he said. "We have hopes of finishing third, which would be a big improvement over a distant sixth-place finish last season. Stanton Seckinger is not only the top seed in the high jump at 6-6, but he's also a threat in the shot put and long jump, and runs a leg of our 4x400 team along with Frank Rogers, Cole Shannon and Bradley McClelland.

"All of those guys are contenders, but Wilson Hall is very strong in all of those events, too, and they always finish well. Our biggest strength as a boys team is in our distance runners," Sally added. "The same boys that scored so well this past cross country season (state runner-up) have had a great track season. We haven't lost a 3,200 run in SCISA yet this year. Layne Mather is currently our best at both the 3,200 (10:22) and 1,600 (4:43). But we have Wesley Mather, Bradley McClelland, Landon Sanford and Brent Demarest all under 5 minutes and under 11 minutes in both events."

Spartanburg Christian, Holly Hill Academy and Trinity should battle for the Class AA-A boys and girls titles.