Boone — It was a memorable day for Watauga High School when they hosted the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference championship track meet on Wednesday.
The Pioneer girls took home their 13th straight championship, and the boys won their first since 2018.
The two titles were not only celebrations of team and individual success, but a proper send-off for head coach Randy McDonough who is coaching the team in his last year.
Six event wins and a host of podiums helped the Pioneers girls pace the field with 222 points for the top spot.
“It feels great. We had people show up rated seventh and finish second, things like that,” McDonough said, noting that the Watauga girls scored points in every event except for the high jump. “Everybody contributed to this and I can’t say enough about the effort of these girls.”
A highlight of the day were the distance runs, where Watauga took all three of the top spots in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200-meter runs. Senior Sidra Miller finished first in all three events, Sophie Beach finished second in the 800 and 1,600-meter runs and Gwendolyn Anderson took second in the 3,200-meters. Virginia St. Clair, Anderson and Andriana Rink finished third in the three events.
The Watauga relay teams took a pair of wins in the 4x400 and 4x800-meter relays and Sarah Goode rounded out the Pioneers’ golds in the pole vault. Tight contests were commonplace at the meet, with the Watauga relay team’s two second-place finishes in the 4x100 and 4x200 being less than a second off the top spot. Goode only topped teammate Olivia Burroughs by six inches, but Burroughs also picked up second in the discus with a throw just over 96 feet.
Faith Watson and Kate Dailey each picked up a podium spot behind South Caldwell’s Heather Deal in the triple jump and Meggin Gunnell-Beck’s second-placed effort in the 100-meter hurdles was only one-hundredth of a second behind South Caldwell’s Olivia Miller.
Ashe County finished second with 176.5 points, while Alexander Central filled the podium spots with 105.5.
Meanwhile, the Watauga boys were doing their part in making it a two-title day. Seven wins — including a dominant 13-foot performance from Henry Coatney in the pole vault — gave the Pioneers 189 points to second-place Alexander Central’s 130.
Coatney’s dominant day saw him go a foot-and-a-half higher than the rest of the field. Meanwhile, junior Davis Hunt picked up a pair of wins in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and Ethan Cannon took the top spot in both the 800 and 1,600-meter runs. Ethan Campbell — who finished second in the 1,600-meter run — took his own win in the 3,200-meter run.
Rounding out the Watauga golds was the 4x800-meter relay, which came after a second and third finish in the 4x400 and 4x200, respectively.
Sam Nixon picked up a third in the 800-meter run before Will Bradbury took second behind Campbell in the 3,200. Power was on display in the shot put and discus events, where Isaiah Shirley’s 42-foot throw gave him second in the shot put and Jonathan Lutabingwa picked up a bronze in the discus with a 117-feet, 2-inch toss.
At the start of the season, McDonough had his eyes set on the girls winning their 13th straight title but was even more excited about getting the boys to the top spot for the first time in four years.
“They came into this year very, very fired up for (a title),” McDonough said. “Alexander Central lost a lot of seniors last year and we saw an opening. Again, we had people doing things they hadn’t done all year as far as times and distances. Their effort was great. I love this team.”