For someone who has run commonly over the past year, the Mideast Regionals at Southern Lee High School stood out for Spencer Hampton.
Not just because it was the hottest weather he’s ever competed in. But also because he claimed his first regional championship.
Hampton, a junior, finished first in the 1,600 meters to take the regional title in Sanford. He crossed the finish line with a time of 4:22.10, a full six seconds ahead of the runner-up, Northern Guilford’s Jack Dingman. Going into the race, Dingman was the only runner in the Mideast region to have a better time than Hampton during the regular season.
Instead, Hampton will go into Saturday’s 3A State Championships at Belk Track inside North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro with the top time regional time in North Carolina. Mount Tabor junior Will Soule captured the Midwest Regional Championship at 4:23.17.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Hampton said. “Jack Dingman is a great runner, but he had an off day in the 1,600 meters. It was about 93-degrees when it was finally my turn to run. I tried to stay in the shade as long as I could until I had to run.”
Hampton is Orange’s first regional outdoor track and field champion since Jamar Davis, who captured three regional titles (in the 300 meter hurdles, the long jump and the triple jump) in 2018.
“The first half of the race, I was just trying to stay relaxed,” Hampton said. “As I got to around 700 meters remaining, everyone else just kind of dropped off and I managed to maintain energy on to the finish line.”
In addition to the 1,600 meters, Hampton also qualified for the 3A State Championships in the 3,200 meters. He finished 4th in the regionals at 9:54.16. Dingman captured the regional title at 9:35.52.
After Orange only had four representatives in one relay event during the 3A State Track & Field Championships in 2019, they will have ten different representatives in six events for the state championships this Saturday. That includes three separate relay teams.
Orange’s 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800 men’s relay teams all advanced to the state championships. The 4×400 team, consisting of senior Keanu Mims, junior Elijah Danley, senior Jeffrey Faulkner and junior Devin Goss, came in second at 3:32.77. Only Chapel Hill, at 3:29.46, was faster.
The 4×200 team, formed by Mims, Danley, Faulkner and Gesiah Drewery, finished 3rd at 1:32.55 in a close finish at the line. Chapel Hill beat out Orange by .13 seconds for second place. Southern Lee won the regional title at 1:30.98.
Orange finished fourth in the 4×800 men’s relay. The team of Hampton, junior Ethan Horton, junior Nicholas Pell and freshman Alden Cathey finished at 8:37.97.
The sole women’s state qualifier was Orange’s Erin Mink, who came in second in the pole vault as she cleared ten-feet. Northern Durham’s Bailey Tart finished first at 10-feet, six-inches. Cedar Ridge’s Phoenix Smith narrowly missed qualifying for the state championship after she cleared eight-feet, six inches, good enough for a fifth-place finish. Mink, who has competed at Orange since she was a freshman, will make her first state championship appearance.
Orange senior Kayla Brooks, in her final meet for the Lady Panthers, finished sixth in the region in the shot put. Brooks’ best throw was 28 feet, three-inches, one foot behind fourth place finisher Madison Ludlum of Gray’s Creek. Brooks, who is also a cheerleader for the Orange football team, plans to attend Baylor University in Waco, Texas later this summer. She is the daughter of former Orange football player Rod Jones.
Orange junior Samatha George finished 9th in the 300-meter hurdles at 55.33 seconds. Ava New qualified for regionals in the long jump. New and Mink both qualified for regionals in the triple jump.