QUICKSBURG – Carley Bennett had one big goal this season for her last year of track and field, and on Monday she achieved it.
Bennett, a senior, finished second in the 800-meter run and helped the girls team finish second overall in the Region 1B Track and Field Championships. The Top 4 in each individual event advance to next weekend’s Class 1 State Championships at East Rockingham High School.
“This is my first-ever individual event I ever qualified for at states,” Bennett said. “It’s been a goal of mine. At this local gym, I go to CrossFit Harrisonburg, our coach met with us and we talked about our goals for the year, and I told him I ran track and I wanted to qualify for states in my first individual event. I’m happy.”
Bennett started off fast in the 800 and led almost the entire race. She said she knew when she saw her time after the first lap that it was too fast.
“I wasn’t able to keep the pace and started petering out at the end,” Bennett said.
Bennett was passed right at the finish line by Galileo’s Morgan Whitley. Bennett finished with a time of 2:36.80 and Whitley had a time of 2:36.29.
Freshman Aamirah McDonald was second in the 400-meter dash in a time of 1:06.59.
McDonald said going to states was her main motivation throughout the race.
“It feels amazing,” McDonald said. “I’ve worked so hard, and I’ve come so far. I’m really proud of myself.”
Sophomore Alexis Franklin didn’t have the day she wanted in the long jump. She finished sixth with a leap of 13-08.50, over a foot shorter than her season best. However, Franklin said she wasn’t going to let that stop her from going to states in the hurdles.
Franklin placed second in the 100-meter hurdles (18.65) and third in the 300-meter hurdles (54.08).
“I was getting ready for 100-meter hurdles, and I was like, ‘I’m going to states today,’” Franklin said. “I had my four steps down for hurdles and I got second. Then for the 300 I was like, ‘qualify for states twice — why not?’”
Stonewall Jackson junior Melissa Oczkowski finished third in the 1,600-meter run to qualify for the state meet for the second straight year. She finished the 1,600 in a time of 6:14.35.
Oczkowski said she’s looking forward to competing at states once again.
“The girls are really nice and it’s really good competition,” Oczkowski said. “So we’ll see how I do there.”
Junior McKenzie Pilkerton placed third in the 3,200-meter run in a time of 14:17.43. She was seeded fifth coming in and said she was excited to be headed to states individually.
“That’s the best time I’ve ever got,” she said. “It’s great. It’s amazing. I didn’t think I’d make it (to states).”
The Generals also qualified all three of their relays to the state meet. The 4x100-meter relay team of Haley Adams, Yesenia Salinas Ortiz, Autumn Summers and McDonald finished third in a time of 58.88. The 4x400-meter relay team of Ella Hervo-Smith, Franklin, McDonald and Bennett finished second in a time of 4:47.64. The 4x800-meter relay squad of Hervo-Smith, Pilkerton, Oczkowski and Bennett placed second (11:54.17).
Riverheads won the girls meet with 160 points, while the Generals were second with 70.
“That’s very, very good for the girls,” Stonewall Jackson coach Debbie Ritchie said. “I’m a little bit surprised, but a very good surprised. Everybody had a good day. I’m very proud of all of them. They did a great job.”