by Chris Hunt
For the first time in school history, the Lake Norman Charter track team took 11 athletes (seven boys and four girls) to Monroe High School, site of the boys and girls N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A Midwest Regional championships on May 14. At the end of the day, all 11 Knights qualified for the 1A state championships, which will be held on Friday, May 20 at NC A&T State University in Greensboro. The meet is set to begin at 10 a.m.
But the most impressive accomplishment of the day was when the public address system announced that Lake Norman Charter finished third as a team at the regional event. The first-year outdoor track program entered just six of the 18 events at the meet, but collected 53 points, finishing only behind regional champion North Rowan (187 points) and West Montgomery (81). The girls came in a respectable 12th out of 21 teams with 24 points.
“To finish this high was a real accomplishment,” said Lake Norman Charter track coach Craig Zamiara, who has coached the Knights’ cross country team for several seasons. “I knew this was going to be a big challenge for us this year as track is so much different than cross country. In track, the events are much shorter which means any mistake you may make could cost you the race.”
A pair of boys picked up the Knights’ first-ever outdoor individual regional championships. Chris Hack blitzed the field in the 800-meter run, breaking the tape first with a time of 2 minutes, 2.27 seconds. Jordan Phillips took the second title with a 10:12.90 effort, followed by teammates Michael Westbay (second place) and Bryant Hooker (fifth). Phillips added a fourth-place finish in the 1,600; a conservative effort of 4:47.02, which Zamiara said was designed to save Phillips for the 3,200.
The Knights won their third boys championship of the day in the 4x800 relay. Phillips, Westbay, Hooker and Hack completed the race in 8:37.42. Lake Norman Charter’s 4x400 team of Lee Bobo, Erik Venderbush, Collin Kepley, and Hack also qualified for states with its fastest effort of the season (3:33.60).
On the girls side, the Knights’ Sara Hardin won the 3,200 event to become the school’s first girl to win a track regional championship. Her time of 11:58.10 was the only sub-12 minute effort and snared 10 team points. Stephanie Zaino (12:53.20) and Bridgette Siemon (13:23.50) also finished in the top 10 of the race.
Lake Norman’s 4x800 relay (Colleen Heberle, Zaino, Siemon, and Hardin) pulled off a fourth-place effort with a time of 10:40.37. Herberle also came in eighth in the 800 run with a time of 2:41.72, while Zaino chipped in a top-five effort in the 1,600 (5:48.22).