Harding, Scott win regional titles, Panthers teams qualify for state meet

Published 4:44 pm Saturday, October 28, 2023

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Andrew Harding and Kiele Scott won 1A East Regional titles on their home track on a sun-drenched Saturday morning at Northside High School.

Harding, a junior, outdueled conference nemesis Matthew Barbabella of Lejeune to capture his first regional title and clinch a spot in next Saturday’s state meet in Kernersville.

Harding covered the 3.1 mile (5K) course in 16:59, just two seconds ahead of Barbabella to claim the title.

“He’s beaten me twice this year, so I knew I had to run a solid race,” Harding said. “I wanted a little bit of a slower pace for the first two miles, then turn on the burners for the last mile and that’s what happened. I was second at the regional last year after being the top seed, so it feels great to win this year. Next week will be a challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”

Harding will have his teammates with him for next week’s state championship meet in Kernersville, as the Panthers boys team qualified third behind Lejeune and Pamlico County.

Senior Mason Newman (11), Tucker Proctor (22), Luke Mirabella (23), Colten Smith (26), William Trent Ipock (33) and Blake Wainwright (36) will also run.

Scott passed Lejeune freshman Scarlett McLean in the last half mile to win the girls race in 21:33 for her first regional title. The girls team finished second behind the Devil Pups and will also compete Saturday at the state meet.

“I had the mental side under control day and told myself I could do it,” Scott said. “I’m really shocked that I won, but it feels great. I tried to keep a strong, steady pace to save something for the last mile. I’ve trained really hard all year and (football) Coach (Keith) Boyd has helped me in the weight room. It’s great that all that work paid off today and I’m looking forward to running at the state meet.

The other Panthers girls who qualified for the state meet include Ava Hedgepeth (14), Emma Boyd (16), Emrie Scott (23), Bailey Singleton (24), Heidi Bell (25) and Starla Fuller (27).