Pole vaulter, shot putter qualify for state meet

Published 12:34 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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By Brian Pitts

Enterprise Record

Cooper Williams did not win the Midwest 4-A Regional title in the shot put.

What happened?

It was two stalwarts going at it, and Williams had to settle for runner-up not because he cooled off, but because Weddington senior Christopher Stewart had a remarkable throw.

Williams’ best throw was 58-10.5; Stewart went 60 feet. Both would meet again in the state meet as the top four finishers in each event advanced. The regional, which featured 47 schools, was hosted by Davie on May 11.

“There is a kid from Weddington who is real strong who beat (Williams) by 11 inches,” coach Rob Raisbeck said. “So that is Cooper’s first loss on the year.”

Williams was fifth in the discus, barely missing state qualification, but he couldn’t be disappointed with a personal-best 166-8.

“Cooper was in fourth place going into the last throw, and one of the guys had a big personal record (to knock him down to fifth,” Raisbeck said. “He’s not as strong in the discus, but he still threw a personal record. To give you an indication of how strong our region is, Cooper has the sixth-best discus throw in the state in 4-A, and four of the five ahead of him are from our region. We refer to it as The Region of Death.”

Davie produced another state qualifier in AJ Sweet. The sophomore had been struggling mightily – by his lofty standards – in recent weeks in the pole vault, but he rebounded in a major way, finishing fourth with a season-best 14-1. This marked his second state berth, following last year’s fourth-place finish at 13-6.

“AJ had, quite frankly, been struggling with his approach, so we were not sure what we were going to get out of him,” Raisbeck said. “But he came through by clearing 14 feet.”

There were several positive performances from Davie’s nine regional competitors.

• Sweet went a personal-record 15.59 in the 110 hurdles. “AJ was the last qualifier (with the 16th-best time),” Raisbeck said. “We did not expect him to make the finals and he did not, but it was a pretty remarkable accomplishment just for him to get into the (110 hurdles) field as a sophomore.”

• Senior Sophia Brady was sixth in the discus with a personal-record 111-1. “She was the No. 6 seed coming in, but there was a big gap after the top four,” Raisbeck said.

• The 3200 relay team finished sixth at 8:22. The foursome was juniors Tyler Hill and Thomas Essic and sophomores Ethan Lakey and Brayden Kistner. “They ran well,” Raisbeck said. “We came in as the 11th or 12th seed. We were hoping to break the school record in that race, and we were off by three seconds. But we will destroy that record next year. Tyler had been hurt a lot. He was sick in the fall and he had a leg injury in the spring and missed several weeks of training. He ran extremely well given his circumstances.”

• Essic had a personal record of 4:27.97 in the 1600, and Lakey ran a best-ever time of 4:29.01 in the 1600. “Thomas and Ethan qualified in the 1600, but quite frankly, they were toast after the 3200,” Raisbeck said. “They did not have a whole lot of rest (between races), and they did not have anything left at that point.”

• Sophomores Alyssa Marion and America Stockton went 5-0 in the high jump, both personal bests.

Notes: Davie was well represented in the NCAA Track & Field Regional. Spencer Williams of North Carolina competed in the shot put, and UNC Wilmington’s Bryson Robinson and JT Allen competed in the long jump and 110 hurdles, respectively. All three were teammates at Davie. “This is an amazing accomplishment,” Raisbeck said. … In the state meet, Williams finished second in the shot put and Sweet was fifth in the pole vault. A story on the state will appear next week.