By David Rogers. MONROE, N.C. — Watauga was well represented on May 6 in the NC Runners Middle School Elite Invitational 2023, hosted at Porter Ridge High School. These are summary notes from the event, gleaned from NCMileSplit.
There were 102 runners competing in five heats. Cam Kuss, representing Without Limits Triangle won the race in 4:35.01, followed by Dallas Reeves of Christ School in 4:39.61 and Keaton Campbell, unattached, in 4:39.79. Watauga’s Grady Gates came in at a respectable No. 16, in 5:02.61, with teammate Andres Roman at No. 19, in 5:05.40.
A total of 71 athletes ran in 14 heats in the boys 200, with Trey Paige of Charlotte Latin taking top honors in 23.69. Watauga 8th grader Ethan Reed was the first local finisher at No. 31, in 26.03.
Watauga’s Grady Gates finished No. 14 out of 37 competing athletes. Gates’ time was 11:29.90. Cam Kuss of Without Limits Triangle was No. 1 at 10:13.32.
Watauga came in No. 4 out of 10 relay teams entered, with a time of 9:28.47. Covenant Day School was No. 1 at 9:05.01
Eighty-three (83) athletes competed in the 800m event and Watauga eighth grader Andres Roman finished in the No. 21 spot, in 2:21.53, running in the third heat. The fastest seeded runners ran in the 5th heat, where Cam Kuss of Without Limits Triangle picked up his third win of the day in 2:07.70. Watauga 8th grader Quincy Honeycutt finished at No. 29, in 2:24.17.
Out of 28 throwers, Watauga 8th grader Noah Gordon topped the century mark at 109-04, good enough for No. 9. The best toss of the day was by Xavier Perkins of Butner Stem Middle School, at 145-07.
Watauga’s Chris Ruiz leaped 17-03 to capture the No. 8 spot out of 29 competing athletes. First place honors went to Johan Webb, Hayesville Middle School, at 19-01.
Watauga boasted of two “top 7” finishes among the 26 athletes competing, with Aidan Plemmons throw of 39-02 good enough for a No. 6 finish and Bryson Coffey’s heave of 37-08 capturing the No. 7 spot. Xavier Perkins of Butner Stem Middle School became a double winner in the field events with a No. 1 toss of 47-08.50.
100 Meter Hurdles
Pioneer 8th grader Tessa Buchanan stopped the clock at 16.99, good enough for No. 3 out of eight competing athletes. Zaria Holt of the Bradford Prep Charter School finished at No. 1 in 15.06.
The popular 1600 meters event drew 74 student athletes to compete in the Elite Invitational, so it was run in four heats. Athletes with the fastest times previous recorded times were featured in the later heats. Seventh grader Kaitlyn Estep of Without Limits Triangle, running in heat 4, finished at No. 1 with a time of 5:04.51, well ahead of No. 2 Rachel Riley, representing Jefferson Middle School. Watauga’s Cali Townsend was a respectable few seconds behind in 5:28.97, good enough for No. 13. Pioneer 7th grader Lillian Kimbrough crossed the line in the upper third of the field at No. 26, in 5:53.95.
The 200m event also proved popular with 82 student athletes competing and requiring 13 heats. Zhoe Holt of Bradford Prep Charter School won the event in 24.84 seconds, followed by Cassidee Fraser of Contentnea-Savannah Middle School a half second behind in 25.25. Watauga 8th grader Mackenzy Cheek finished at No. 42, in 29.66. Krystina Wellenstein, still only a 7th grade student-athlete, wasn’t far behind in 29.98, good enough for No. 47, with 7th grade teammate Addison Stough also breaking the top 50, in 30.10 (No. 49).
300 Meter Hurdles
Tessa Buchanan of Watauga finished No. 2 out of 31 competitors in the 300m Hurdles, in 49.44, a half-second behind No. 1 Caitlin Kasten of Covenant Day School.
The longest distance race of the day was run in two heats, the fastest previous times seeded in the second heat where Watauga 7th grader Cali Townsend competed. Finishing in the No. 1 spot was Kaitlyn Estep of Without Limits Triangle (11:23.95), with Townsend crossing the line No. 6, in 12:31.91. The race had 25 competitors and Watauga’s Lainey Johnston completed the event at No. 14, in 13:18.37.
The metric quarter mile event drew 80 student athlete competitors to the grueling sprint race, with Yolanda Calhoun finishing No. 1 in 57.80. At No. 28 was Watauga’s Sophia Stull (1:09.39). The Pioneers’ Winter Shaw also finished in the top half of the field, at No. 37 (1:10.71).
Watauga showed well in the 4×200, finishing No. 8 (1:56.04) out of the 23 teams competing. The event was won by East Union Middle School (1:50.64).
Out of 70 runners competing in four heats, Watauga got a top 25 performance from 7th grader Lillian Kimbrough, No. 25 in 2:46.17. Kimbrough ran in the third heat. The event was won by Kaitlyn Estep of Without Limits Triangle in 2:18.48.
Watauga’s Maria Soto captured the No. 2 spot with a heave of 103-03, one of only two athletes to break the century mark among the 26 athletes competing. Finishing at No. 1 was Laila Jones of Clemmons Middle School, with a throw of 112-00.
With 25 jumpers in the event, Watauga’s Naomi Smith finished in the top half at No. 11, with a leap of 14-03. Yolanda Calhoun of the High Point Blaze finished first, in 16:04.50.
Representing Watauga, Maria Soto finished No. 4 (35-08), while Emma Henson, listed as representing Bethel Middle School, finished at No. 12 (29-07.50) in a field of 27 competing athletes. Leila Jones of Clemmons Middle School was No. 1 (44-00)
Twenty-eight (28) athletes competed in the event and Watauga’s Sydney Helms finished in the top half at No. 12 (29-02.75). Kylia Sylvester of Elite TFT captured the event with a 35-00.00 effort.
Boys – With 34 boys teams represented, Watauga was credited with No. 20 (14 points). Weddington was No. 1, with 80 points.
Girls – There were 33 girls teams represented at the Elite Invitational and Watauga finished in the No. 5 position, with 44 points. Bradford Prep Charter School won team honors with 89 points, followed by Weddington, with 66.5 points.