Saturday, May 15th in Gastonia, North Carolina was nothing short of a historical day for the Falcon Track and Field team. From individual State Championships to numerous personal record times, the Varsity Track and Field team left their mark at the NCISAA Division 3 State Championship meet. In the end, the Falcons left no doubt seeing the varsity girls team bring home a 3rd place finish and the varsity boys were crowned NCISAA State Champions!
Reflecting on the meet and season as a whole, Head Coach Marcus Millard shared, “Our team mottos were “WE WORK” and “EXECUTE” and they were nothing short of that all season. Each and every one of them showed up and performed on Saturday! It is their dedication to the process and determination to succeed that resulted in their tremendous successes.”
Individually, the Falcons saw multiple state champions crowned, most notably, senior Molly Kuzma closed her O’Neal athletic career adding a final four state championships bringing her career total to 11. Molly secured victories in the 3200, 1600, and 800 individually. Joining, Kuzma with multiple individual victories was junior Jalen Lindsey who was crowned state champion in both the 200 and 400-meter sprints. In the field events, junior Josh Manning won a state championship in the high jump, and fellow junior Eland Miller added a state championship in the discuss.
The Falcons added to their hardware during the relays where the girls 4x800 meter relay of Grace Simpson, Taylor Edrington, Caelan McHarney, and Molly Kuzma broke the school record by 8 seconds with a time of 10:45.12 to bring home the state championship. On the boy's side, the boys 4x200 meter relay team of Boyd Kenny, Kanye McKeithen, Josh Manning, and Jalen Lindsey, and the boys 4x100 meter team of Boyd Kenny, Kanye McKeithen, Malachi Ward, and Josh Manning both secured state championship performances. Finishing 2nd overall, the 4x400 meter team of Boyd Kenny, Nathan Brianas, Aaron Siering, and Jalen Lindsey added a new relay record to the O’Neal record board with a time of 3:38.14.
Adding to the medalist honors on the afternoon the Falcons saw multiple top three finishes including, Eland Miller’s 2nd place finish the shot put, Nate Rabon’s 2nd place finish in the discus, Nathan Brianas’ 3rd place finish in the 300-meter hurdles, and finally the girls 4x 200 meter relay finishing in 3rd place.
In addition, the Falcons placed 10 runners on the NCISAA All-State Team: Molly Kuzma, Jalen Lindsey, Josh Manning, Eland Miller, Grace Simpson, Taylor Edrington, Caelan McHarney, Boyd Kenney, Kanye McKeithen, Malachi Ward.
“We are so, so proud of our student-athletes and coaches,” shares Athletic Director James Franklin. “The methodical sports science planning by our track and strength coaches was met by a commitment like no other from our student-athletes. It was a near-perfect team approach and that resulted in their success.”