OCEAN – Croatan continued their success in winter athletics on Wednesday with another sweep of a championship title encounter.
The boys and girls carried both teams for the fourth straight season with wins in the 3A Coastal Conference Championship. This is the first season at the 3A level for the Cougars after spending their first 23 years in 2A.
The girls, who have now won seven consecutive league titles, won hands down, scoring 158 points to West Carteret’s 101.
“Our girls have worked extremely hard this season, and their work has paid off,” said Croatian co-coach Rico Quispe. “We knew that to beat West Carteret and Swansboro we had to perform extremely well. West Carteret and Swansboro have great programs and have pushed us every game this season.
The boys scored 154 to pass White Oak with 137.
“The boys have done a great job preparing for the conference encounter,” said Croatian co-coach Andy Bulfer. “It was a very cold day, but our boys managed to win against great competition.”
The athletes faced miserable weather conditions with temperatures in the mid 40s and a steady 15mph wind from the north-northeast making it feel like 30-35 degrees.
Navaya Zales led the Cougars with three victories on the girls’ side, winning the 1,000 meters in 3 minutes, 12 seconds, the 1,600 meters in 5:17 and the 3,200 meters in 11:40.
“Navaya has fired on all cylinders this season and managed to stay undefeated,” Quispe said. “She is hungry and motivated to compete in the national competition.”
Grace Guilford had a stellar day for West, winning the 300 meters in 42.64 and the 500 meters in 1:23. She joined Kenley Ballou, Courtney Tyndall and Sha’Niyah Gethers to place first in the 800-meter relay in 1:49, and teamed with Tyler Collins, Isabella Menella and Tyndall in the 1,600-meter relay to take the victory.
Guilford helped the Patriots edge Swansboro by one point, 101-100, to take second place in the game. Dixon took fourth place with 53 points, followed by White Oak with 41 and Richlands with eight.
“The girls did a really good job finishing second in the conference game on a very cold and windy day,” West co-coach Marshall Windsor said. “Our team was very young and very inexperienced in league competition.”
Ginger Hayden captured two jump events for Croatan, taking the triple jump with a 32-foot-6 jump and the long jump with a 15-0.5 distance.
West’s Gethers followed in the long jump jumping 14-06.4 for second place and set a school record in the 55 meters with a time of 7.08.
Paige Merrell won the 55-meter hurdles in 9.02 for Croatan and teamed up with Alyssia Trigleth, Logan Besemer and Tessa McFarland in the 800-meter relay to take second in 1:50.
Trigleth was second in the 300 meters in 43.73, followed by Besemer in 44.78. They joined Cameran Ladd and Audrey Kirkwood in the 1,600 meter relay to take second place in 4:27.
Ladd was second in the 500 meters in 1:26.03, followed by Kirkwood in 1:26.52.
Ladd joined Janelle Ketner, Hannah Berger and Ayla Zales in the 3,200 meter relay to win in 11:10.
Other county athlete wins came with West’s Tyler Collins making the high jump with a 5-02 clearance and Cailin Ames of Croatan taking the shot put with a 31-08 push.
West’s Alexandra Vaequez placed third in the shot put with a throw of 28-8.
Croatan’s Jadyn Melby was second in the pole vault with a jump of 6-07, and teammate Carly Gardiner was third in the 55-meter hurdles in 9.67.
West’s Caroline Dixon finished third in the 1,000 meters in 3:41.
The Cougars held a 17-point advantage over White Oak when the boys met thanks to James Wallace.
Wallace won the 1,000 meters in 2:44, teamed with Matthew Quispe, Cooper Stephens and Sean Manning to win the 1,600 meters relay in 3:39, and joined Kenny Lombreglia, Brayden Stephens and Quispe in the 3,200 relay meters to take the triumph in 9:15.
Matas de Croatan took the victory in the high jump with a 5-08 clearance and took second place in the shot put with a 44-03 surge.
Will Rouse won the shot put for the Cougars at 44-10, Ben Futral won the pole vault with an 11-0 jump and Lombreglia completed Croatan’s victories with a time of 1:08 in the 500 meters .
The depth of the team played a role in the victory.
Tyrese Cone collected two second-place finishes, clocking 5:14 in the 1,600 meters and reaching the line in 11:20 in the 3,200 meters.
Stephens was second in the 500 meters in 1:10 and Manning was third in the 1,000 meters in 2:57.
Angel DeLaCuesta, Justin Wax, Nate Boal and Brayden Stephens took second place in the 800-meter relay in 1:39.
“It really helps our program face great competition in White Oak, West Carteret and Swansboro every week,” Bulfer said. “We’ve had faster athletes in the past, but this is our strongest team overall.”
Zach Pruett took second place in the pole vault with a jump of 10-06, and Ayden Tew finished third in the high jump with a jump of 5-04 to complete the Croatian podiums.
Jamarion Montford led the way for a Western men’s team that took third place with 71 points. Swansboro was next with 66 points. Dixon scored 24 and Richlands seven.
Montford took second place in the 55 meters in 6.40 and third in the long jump with a jump of 17-08.5. He also joined Peyton Wheeler, Hunter Guthrie and Andrew Chaanine in a winning 800m relay time of 1:37, and the same quartet took second place in the 1,600m relay in 3:50.
Guthrie was second in the high jump with a 5-04 clearance, and Wheeler was second in the 300 meters in 37.24.
Noah Munden was third in the shot put with a 44-01 surge, and Colton Ellis took third in the pole vault with a 10-0 jump.
“We’re very pleased the boys finished third,” West co-coach Troy Smith said. “Anytime you have multiple scholastic and PR records set in championship competition, you can’t ask for more than that, especially in the conditions we had.”