In Saturday’s SCISA 3A track and field championships at Heathwood Hall, things went according to plan for the host Highlanders’ girls squad. Heathwood Hall finished as state runners-up for the second consecutive year, behind champion Ashley Hall.
“To finish runner-up in state is a tremendous accomplishment for us, given that we lost 50 of the 88 points we scored last year with graduation,” coach Willis Ware said. “The key is we had a balanced approached in all the events today.”
Led by Sydney Ellen’s trio of silver medals, Ware’s team picked up 97.33 points.
Ellen placed second in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter races.
In the 3,200, Ellen was at the front of the pack with Pinewood Prep’s Maryah Nasir from the start. Three laps in, Ellen was trailing Nasir by nearly 100 meters. But with two laps to go, Ellen started to close in.
Nasir finished in 11 minutes, 12.44 seconds and Ellen clocked in at 11:17.06.
“I was definitely watching the times each lap to see if I was gaining on her. I was trying to close the gap, but she definitely picked it up in the end,” Ellen said. “It feels great, the weather was great. I felt really fresh and I ran a personal record, so I’m happy.”
A league record was set in that event, as Spartanburg Christian’s Logan Morris ran a time of 11:08.97 in the Class A/2A finals.
The Highlanders got crucial points from its 3,200 relay team, which was seeded third but finished second as Molly Joseph kicked through the final 800 meters.
“My teammates put me in a great position, they cheered me on and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Joseph said of relay teammates Marjorie Anne Foster, Kate Nassab and Madison Mason.
By the time the final event rolled around, the Highlanders knew they needed fourth-place points to finish second in the meet.
Heathwood Hall was in sixth place on the first exchange and in fifth place after the second. Ellen ran a strong anchor leg in the final event, the 1,600-relay, with a full-throttle sprint for a fourth-place finish that secured the state runner-up trophy for the Highlanders.
Senior shot putter Gadson Lefft and junior pole vaulter Kate Evans each won their events.
“These ladies are awesome,” Ware said. “I’ve got the best group of girls you could hope to coach.”
Ben Lippen got first-place finishes from Leah Austin in the 100 and 200, and from its 400 relay team. Hammond senior Taylor McGruder won the long jump and placed third in the triple jump.
On the boys side, Porter Gaud won the championship. Hammond won the 400 relay with a 44.74 finish, and Ben Lippen took silver in that race with a 44.94 time. Ben Lippen also finished third in the 1,600 relay. Hammond’s Xavier McDaniel placed second in the high jump.