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Track athletes make a statement

By Staff
By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
BAYBORO — Suzanne Lee and Raquel Wilson won individual championships to help lead the Northside Panthers to a second place finish in Saturday’s Class 1-A East Regional track and field meet at Pamlico High School.
Northside’s boys placed fifth in the team standings.
Topsail won the girls’ team title and Pamlico County won the boys’ team championship.
Wilson was voted the Most Valuable Performer after taking first place in the shot put and third place in the discus event.
Lee turned in a personal-best time in the 300-meter hurdles to win the regional championship in that event for the second straight year. The senior used a late burst toward the final hurdle to zip past her closest competitor.
Lee also turned in a personal-best clocking (16.94) in the 100-meter hurdles to finish runner-up in that event.
She also placed second in the high jump after clearing 4 feet, 8 inches.
It was a duplicate effort from a year ago, where Lee won the 300-meter hurdles and finished second in the 100-meter hurdles and high jump at regionals in 2006.
An emotional Ben Hopkins qualified for the state meet by placing third in the shot put event. Throwing with a heavy heart, the Northside senior dedicated his effort to his step-brother, Johnathan Kirk, a U.S. Marine who was killed in the line of duty.
Panther senior Clay Leary surprised many, including himself, in qualifying to the state meet in the 300-meter hurdles. He finished fourth in 43.10 seconds.
Northside’s Chad Davenport, who ran past all his competition during the 800-meter run all season, had a bit of a scare on Saturday. However, he broke free from a pack and was able to claim the fourth and final state-qualifying spot in the event, finishing in 2:11.02.
Senior Casey Lewis anchored her young 1,600-meter relay team to a third-place finish. Lewis, who is happy to be returning to the state meet, gave some pre-race advice to her teammates — two freshman and a sophomore.
Panther senior Warren Hamilton advanced to regionals in the 1,600 in a 4:55.55 clocking after helping the 3,200 meter relay team qualify. He also ran in the 3,200 meter run and, despite turning in a solid time, missed out on qualifying in that event.
Northside’s Wesley Andujar (third in the 110-meter hurdles, 16.70), Rick Harris (fourth in the 110-meter hurdles, 18.11), T.J. Slade (second in the high jump and third in the triple jump), Ashley Clayton (third in the 100-meter hurdles, 49.53), Korey Booth (third in the discus) and Charley Taylor (fourth in the discus) are among other Northside athletes to qualify for the state meet.
The Class 1-A state meet will be held Friday at N.C. A&T.