HENDERSONVILLE — Watauga distance runner Sophia Ritter will return to the state 3-A championships after finishing fourth in two events at the state 3-A Western Regionals run at North Henderson on May 11.
The top four finishers in each event qualified for the state meet, which is May 17 at Belk Stadium at North Carolina A&T in Greensboro. Watauga’s girls’ team finished third behind Cuthbertson and Marvin Ridge.
Watauga had nine events qualify for the state meet.
The regional was delayed two hours. That didn’t stop Ritter, who finished fourth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:19.50. The Watauga junior also placed fourth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:31.10.
Ritter returns to the state finals, where she finished third last season. She was one of a handful of Pioneers who are headed to the finals.
“She was going to run the mile and see what happens in the first two-and-a-half laps and then back off if she saw she wasn’t getting in,” Watauga coach Randy McDonough said. “She was in fourth place the whole way. Then the same thing happened in the 3,200. She was in fourth or fifth place the whole way and passed the girl in front of her down the last straightaway.”
Watauga junior Emma Brown qualified in both hurdles events. Brown took second in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 47.64 seconds. She also finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.14 seconds after clocking a preliminary time of 16:54.
Brown nearly qualified in the long jump, but finished fifth with a leap of 16 feet, 51/2 inches. The Pioneers’ 1,600-meter relay team comprised of Brown, Kendall Reece, Brooke Byrd and Kate Tuberty also finished fourth with a time of 4:17.30.
Brown, who qualified in four events, will be busy at the state meet, but McDonough said her events would be spread out during the day. Brown will have to run in a qualifying race in the 100-hurdles. If she qualifies for the finals, that gives her an extra race to run.
“She needs to do well in the prelims to get to the finals,” McDonough said. “She looked a little tired when she started (at the regional), but as the day went on she got better. She got through the prelim and did better in the finals.”
Watauga’s 3,200-meter relay team, comprised of Emma Beach, Riley Fowler, Sidra Miller and Caroline Edwards, also finished fourth with a time of 10:06 to qualify for the state meet.
Watauga’s Emma Beach nearly qualified for the state finals in the 800-meter run, but finished fifth with a time of 2:29.50.
Other Pioneers who participated in the regionals included Reece, who finished 12th in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:06.64. Emma Tzotschew finished seventh with a time of 2:30.80 and Edwards was 11th in the 800 with a time of 23:37.40.
Miller, a freshman, was sixth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 5:39.60, while Riley Fowler was 10th in the event with a time of 5:52.30. Rebecca Anderson was sixth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 12:27.10, while Sophie Beach, another freshman, was seventh with a time of 12:31.70.
Watauga’s 400-meter relay team finished 11th with a time of 55.14.
In field events, Byrd was 10th in the high jump with a leap of 4-10. Byrd was eighth in the long jump with an effort of 15-41/2, while freshman Kate Dailey was seventh with a leap of 15-5. Watauga freshman Sarah Goode was sixth in the pole vault with a vault of 9-6.
In the throws, Watauga’s Briana Jones was 10th in the discus with a toss of 86-101/2, while Tegan Allan was 13th with a throw of 77-6. Jones was 12th in the shot put with a toss of 29-5, while teammate Madelyn Furr was 13th with a toss of 29-4. Allan was 15th with a throw of 27-8.
Watauga’s boys’ team also qualified athletes for the state finals. Senior thrower Sam Sappington qualified in the discus with a toss of 131-91/2, which was good for second place in the regional. Sappington just missed on qualifying for the shot put, but finished fifth with a toss of 42-6.
“I expected Sam to go in the discus,” McDonough said. “I didn’t think he had any real shot in the shot put and he was an inch out of fourth place.”
Watauga sophomore Sebastian Best finished third in the long jump with a leap of 21-0 feet.
“Seb was very much a surprise,” McDonough said. “He was rated seventh of eighth and got all the way to third.”
In distance running, Avery Cannon finished third in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:41.60. Watauga freshman Gavin Sweeney missed out qualifying for the state meet in the event, but took sixth with a time of 9:56.30.
Watauga’s Caleb Cox finished eighth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:05.20, while teammate Caleb Coatney was 13th in the 800 with a time of 2:08.50.
“Avery ran a great race,” McDonough said. “He sat in a pack of four the whole way. Basically, the top four that are going on to state were quite a bit ahead of everybody else. He ran a great race and didn’t have to P.R. to go on to state.”