Fort Mill freshman Mark Blackmon ran away from the competition at last weekend's state championship track meet at Lower Richland High School in Columbia, winning the state title in the mile run.
Blackmon ran a personal best time of 4:22 to take first place in the mile, but that was barely enough to hold off surging Wando senior Eric Powers, who finished less than a second behind Blackmon.
"That was way more competitive," said a relieved Blackmon after the race. "For the first three laps, I wasn't sure about it."
Although Blackmon was a member of the track team in his eighth grade year, he injured his leg near the end of the season, so this was his first state title meet.
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Blackmon and Powers each ran in the front of the pack for three and a half laps until, with about 200 meters to go, Blackmon surged about 20 meters ahead.
"I started pulling away and I thought he was going to go with me," Blackmon said.
"I still wasn't sure I was going to win until the last 50 (meters).
"I had to put a lot into that. I'm happy with it," he said.
Nation Ford's top male distance runner, Kevin Ketner, also improved his best time as part of the fast field, running a 4:29, good for fifth in the state.
Fort Mill's Rashawn Dupree qualified for the state competition in the high jump and finished seventh with a jump of six feet.
The high jump competition featured the number one jumper in the state, Hartsville's Cameron Evans, had three attempts to break the state record of seven feet, one inch, but nudged the bar off the ledge each time. Evans finished with a winning height of six feet, 11 inches."
Nation Ford freshman Meredith Kilburn qualified in two events, the mile and two mile, in her second season on the team.
Kilburn, who was seeded eighth in the mile, finished three places up, in fifth, with a time of 5:16. She finished eighth in the two mile later in the afternoon.
Fort Mill's Quanika Blackmon finished eighth in the mile, and also ran a leg on the 4x800 relay, which finished fifth in a fast race, one in which all eight teams bested their qualifying times.
Fort Mill senior Ceci Kryst was the only other Fort Mill athlete to qualify in more than one event, competing in both the long jump and triple jump.
Kryst placed fifth in the long jump, jumping 17 feet, and sixth in the triple jump on a muggy Saturday morning, jumping 35'09".
Kryst said even though she competed in two events, she didn't think it affected her performance negatively.
"In a typical track meet, I'm competing in four events- running back and forth to the track," Kryst said.
"It was actually pretty relaxed to only have two events in two days."
During the season Kryst also competed in the 100-meter hurdles and the 4x100 meter relay team, and said she will likely continue working on expanding the variety of events she is able to compete in during the summer.
Kryst will be attending the University of South Carolina next fall, and said she has met with coaches and plans to walk on to the Gamecocks' track team, possibly even competing in the heptathlon.
"They have an amazing program- I'm really excited," Kryst said.
"During my senior year I decided to experiment with different events and hurdling worked out pretty well...I'll have to practice shot put and some others, but I'll use summer training for that."
The Jackets also had two female field athletes in the meet, Katie Jurewicz, who finished sixth in the pole vault, and eighth-grader Alisha Blackmon, who placed sixth in the discus.
Williams, Johnson compete
Indian Land's Mariah Williams qualified for the A State championship meet in both the 100 meters hurdles and the high jump.
Williams placed third in the state in the hurdles, finishing in 17.63 seconds, and seventh in the high jump, with a height of four feet, 10 inches.
The Warriors' eighth-grader, Lindsay Johnson, finished third in the long jump in her first ever state competition. She jumped 16 feet, two inches.
Indian Land's 4x100 relay team also competed, and ran a 51.39, good for fourth place.
The Warriors' point total from the four events was enough to finish ninth in the state in the team standings.