The 2015 SCISA state track and field championships proved to be a banner day for Lowcountry athletes as the Ashley Hall girls and Porter-Gaud boys once again laid claim to the AAA team championships.
Ashley Hall won its third consecutive AAA title, holding off a challenge from Heathwood Hall. Ashley Hall tallied 141 points to finish 16 points clear of the runner-up.
Porter-Gaud claimed a share of the boys AAA title, tying with Hammond School with 154 points. It was the first team tie in SCISA history and the co-championship gives the Cyclones a fifth straight title.
Individually, the day belonged to Porter-Gaud junior Garis Grant, who set two state records and four school records in winning four gold medals.
Grant set a state record in winning the discus while also winning the shot put and the 200-meter dash. She also ran a leg on Porter-Gaud’s winning 400-meter relay team, which set a state record with an effort of 50.84 seconds.
“I exceeded my goals today, no doubt,” said Grant. “I felt I could have a chance to win the discus and shot and we felt our relay team could win. The 200, that was a little bit of a surprise for me. I knew it would be a tough race. I was seeded third but once I got to the last 100, I really put everything I had into winning it.
“For me though, the most gratifying win was the relay. We worked really hard as a team all season and to share a state record with my teammates is amazing.”
Ashley Hall’s winning effort was due to strong performances from several athletes. Morgan Lee won the 800 and finished second in the 1600. Audrey Hamilton won the 400-meter hurdles and finished second in the 100 hurdles while Aliyah Simmons won the 400 and placed second in both the 100- and 200-meter dash.
“We had a solid, veteran crew returning and we had some depth, which was the big key today,” said coach John Slepitz. “The girls really performed today. I could not be more proud of them. They knew they had to perform really well today for us to have a chance. We knew Heathwood Hall would be right there and it was a four-point meet right until the end. It’s a great win for these girls.”
Porter-Gaud entered the final event of the day — the 1600-meter relay — trailing Hammond by two points in the team standings. The Cyclones needed a win to secure at least a tie. The Cyclones did more than win, they set a state record in the event. Hammond finished a distant second in the final race and secured the tie for the team title.
Porter-Gaud’s first-year head coach Hugh Knight was hardly disappointed with a tie. The coach lost 122 scoring points from last year’s state championship team.
This is great,” said Knight. “After what we lost from last year’s team, to even be in the conversation for a championship is a true testament to our kids.
“The level of competition between us and Hammond was through the roof today. It was back and forth all day long. We knew going in that it would be very, very close. Both teams really rose to the occasion today. We were pretty strong across the board. It was a team effort today. You don’t win a state championship without contributions from a lot of kids.”
Porter-Gaud’s Carson Marr won individual gold in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles. Jacob Salley won the discus and was second in the shot put while teammate Travis Barnett won the shot and finished second in the discus. Porter-Gaud also claimed third place in both throws.
Keegan Ulber won the pole vault for the Cyclones and Dante Smith won the 400.
Other local state champions included Annie Pascutti of Palmetto Christian in the AA/A long jump; Pinewood Prep’s Austin McCray in the AAA triple jump; Porter-Gaud’s Jordan Hollingsworth in the AAA high jump; and Ridge Christian’s Whitney Wilson in the AA/A discus.