BOONE - Eight members of Elkin’s boys and girls track teams traveled to Boone on Saturday to compete in the Appalachian High School Invitational Track and Field Meet.
An annual event, 14 schools from all classifications were represented at this year’s meet. On a very blustery but sunny day, Elkin runners shined as brightly as the afternoon sun at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
The Buckin’ Elks captured four first-place finishes on the day.
Brandon Welborn ran a gutty race to win the 800 meters over Connor Pate of West Wilkes by less than a second, 2:06.32. Freshman Jacob Parker captured first place in the 3200 meter run. In a tight race for six laps, Parker ran away from the field in the last two laps, crossing the finish line in a personal best time of 10:54.13. Parker also earned a bronze medal in the 1600 meter run with a time of 4:59.10.
Elkin’s Shakai Ward captured two first places in the 400 and 200. Undefeated in the 400 meter run so far this year, Ward won in a close race over Kylie Polsgrove of Avery. Battling each other in the homestretch, the sophomore’s winning time was only eight-one-hundredth of a second ahead of her opponent, 61.22 to 61.30.
In the 200 meter dash Ward, running into a stiff wind, blew away the field, winning in a personal best time of 26.28. Her time ranks her second in the state among 1A girls.
In addition to bringing home four gold medals, the Elks also earned two silver medals. Kody King jumped 20 feet even to take second in the long jump. He was only 6 inches behind the winner Nick Pellicano of West Wilkes. King also placed fifth in the triple jump with a personal best leap of 39-11.
One of the most exciting races of the day was the last event of the day. Elkin’s 4x400 meter relay of King, Welborn, Justin Gunter and Jamiles Hayes battled North Rowan down to the wire.
Welborn, running the anchor leg for Elkin, was in third place when he received the baton. He quickly moved into second place, and with every stride cut into the huge lead North Rowan had built over the field.
With the crowd on its feet, it looked as if Welborn was going to run him down in the homestretch, but the finish line came a few yards too soon. North Rowan held on for the win over Elkin, 3:45.23 to 3:46.62 - it was Elkin’s fastest 4x400 time of the year.
Gunter and Hayes also competed in the 100 meter dash. Hayes ran 11.97 and Gunter 12.71, placing ninth and fourteenth, respectively. Gunter ran to a personal best time in the 400 with a time of 60.49 placing fifteenth.
In the 1600 meter run Said Javier and Madeline Carter ran to top-10 finishes. Javier placed ninth in the boys race in 5:16.4, while Carter, who is battling her way back from an early season injury, finished eighth in the girls race with a time 6:27.19.
“The runners continue to show what hard work and commitment can accomplish,” Elkin distance coach Dan Merritt said after the meet. “The will to win means nothing without the will to work. And their performances revealed they have both the will to win and the will to work.
“With the conference meet less than two weeks away, they have placed themselves in the position to compete and do well.”