Sumter’s return to the Top 10 at the Class 4A state girls track meet was spotlight story in the Midlands.
The Gamecocks, who managed all of five team points as last year’s season finale, rang up 51 to finish just seven points behind runner-up Summerville. It was the first Top 10 finish for the Gamecocks in seven years.
Individually, junior Haley Allen and sophomore Danielle McFadden were the Sumter starts with golden performances.
Allen finished first in the classic 100- and 200-meter events, while McFadden prevailed in the long jump. Allen ran a bit faster in both races at the 4A qualifier on the same Lower Richland oval, but the reward was much sweeter. The winning times: 12.17 in the 100; 24.30 in the 200. Allen is the first Sumter sprinter to strike gold in both the 100 and 200 since Annette Brown pulled it off in 1988 and 1989.
McFadden, meanwhile, did establish a PR with a 19-4 in the long jump – a favored Sumter event. McFadden’s win was the seventh by a Gamecock since 1983, and her winning distance was the best ever by a Sumter state champion. Nicole Gamble, a three-time long jump champion (1993-95), set the previous standard (19-3.5) on the way to her first state title.
Dutch Fork and Irmo also cracked the Top 10. The Silver Foxes tallied 36 points, which was god for fifth place. Irmo’s 30 points netted a seventh-place finish.
DF junior Tiana LaPorte had the honor of becoming the school’s first female state champion last season, and became the first to secure back-to-back titles by winning the high jump again. LaPorte had a season-best 5-6 at state, but she was not able to match or better two 5-8 efforts she had in 2009.
Niki Klasnic joined LaPorte atop the medal stand by winning the 3200 meters last season. Samantha Hughes nearly duplicated the feat, but came up a bit short and finished in second place. Teammate Michelle Arm picked up a bronze medal for a third-place finish.
Junior Jemekia Wilson accounted for the bulk of Irmo’s points with medal runs in the 100 (bronze) and 200 (silver) meters, a sixth-place finish in the high jump and running a leg on the Yellow Jackets fifth-place 1600 relay team.
Lexington freshman Meri Heneage (third in the 1600) and Spring Valley freshman Xylina McDaniel (third in the shot put) were the other Midlands medal finishers.