When she began running track as a fifth-grader, Palmetto Christian’s Lauren Pernell thought it was something fun to do because her friends also participated.
Fast forward to 2019, her senior season, and Pernell is a four-time gold medal winner in the 2019 SCISA state track and field meet, held Saturday at Porter-Gaud.
Pernell’s effort helped lead her team to a third consecutive team championship in the Class AA/A meet. She received the high-point scoring award for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s amazing how good the sport has been to me over the years,” said Pernell, who plans to run at Anderson University next year. “It’s very emotional for me. I can’t believe it’s over now. I started this because I had nothing better than do. But the more I ran, the harder I worked at it. I’ve been very blessed to have been a part of this program. This has been my family for so long. It’s sad in a way that it’s over but it feels great to finish with four (medals). That was the main goal all season, a perfect score.”
Palmetto Christian rolled to the team title, scoring 161 points to finish 51 points ahead of runner-up Shannon Forest. While Pernell was winning gold in the long jump, the high jump, and both hurdles events, she was getting solid help from her teammates.
Catherine Cave won the high jump and placed second in the long jump and second in the 800 meter run. Sister Mae Cave added a pair of third-place finishes in the 800 and 1600, while Ella Banks was third in the 3200. Charlee Olson was third in both hurdles and Regan Baker was second in the 400 hurdles. Lilly Corley was third in the pole vault and Katelyn Howard was second in the triple jump.
“We had so many contributions from so many kids,” Coach Dale Hoover said. “We had points scored from seventh, eighth and ninth-graders today. We had great leadership at the top and the younger ones just filled in and improved so much.”
Hoover says the program will be different without Pernell leading the way.
“As good as she is on the track, she’s an even better person,” the coach said. “As coaches, we don’t get to coach kids like her very often. She’s definitely special.”
Also in the AA/A girls meet, Tessa Mudd of Charleston Collegiate ended up with three runner-up finishes in the 100, 200 and pole vault.
Porter-Gaud’s girls team finished third in the Class AAA meet. Ashley Hall’s Bryce Turbeville was the only local gold medal winner in the meet, winning the pole vault. Porter-Gaud’s Callie Harper was runner-up in the 800 and Chloe Elebash was second in the 3200.
Palmetto Christian’s boys team finished as the state runner-up to Bethesda School, ending the Eagles’ bid for a third consecutive state championship.
Palmetto Christian senior Grayson Silvester was the high-point scorer for the AA/A meet, winning both hurdles events and 200 meter dash while finishing second in the 100. Hamilton Blair won the 1600 and 3200 meter gold while Brad Chaney won the long jump title.
In the AAA boys championship, Ben Lippen ended Porter-Gaud’s eight-year run as state champion, edging out Cardinal Newman by three points. The Cyclones ended up fifth in the team standings. It was Porter-Gaud’s first loss on their home track since March 2011.
Tobias Lafayette was Porter-Gaud’s lone state champion, winning the triple jump.