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Track & Field: South, North split county titles
War Eagles earn eight first place finishes
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North Forsyth’s McKennsie Rutan won the girls pole vault competition at the Forsyth County track & field championships on Thursday at West Forsyth. - photo by Jared Putnam

South Forsyth’s boys didn’t spend much time looking over their shoulders the way North Forsyth’s girls did, but both teams got what they wanted.

The War Eagles steamrolled all local rivals with 88 points, while the Lady Raiders tallied 59 to eke out first place by four points in the Forsyth County track & field championships, held Wednesday and Thursday at West Forsyth High School.

"I’ve just got to attribute [the success] to the kids," South head coach Jake Martin said. "They come out and work hard at practice every day. …This is probably the most excited they’ve been about track since I’ve been here. The energy has been good; it’s been a team atmosphere."

The War Eagles topped last season’s champion, North (63), by 25 points, while West (40), Lambert (28), Forsyth Central (27) and Pinecrest Academy (2) completed the field.

South’s boys earned most of their points with five first-place finishes out of the 10 track events. Michael Gatto earned first in the 400-meter dash, Jake Howlin won the 800-meter run, Ryan Peppenhorst won the 1,600-meter run, while Reed Vaughn took the 3,200-meter run and Brandon Crowley, Rohit Konda, Tyler Laflamme and Gatto won the 100-meter relay. Other first-place finishers for South were Michael Scullin in the shot put, Austin Ataide in the long jump and Howlin in the pole vault.

"I’ve been going to camps over the summer and during the weekend and I’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into it," Howlin said. "…We’ve got a lot of young guys and a young squad so we’re going to do well in the future."

The boys’ 3,200-meter run might have gone differently if not for an accidental trip. Central freshman Max Warner got his feet tangled with another competitor and fell with only two laps remaining. Warner fell behind but managed to catch up and pass all runners except Vaughn, who won by a little over one second.

The Lady Raiders claimed first with 59 points to best second-place finishers Lambert and South with 55. West took fourth with 43, while Central had 28 and Pinecrest finished with eight.

"Fielding events are always big for us," North head coach Neal Matheson said. "That was the difference. …It was exciting to see that many schools close in points and I think that’s good for competition all around for the county.

"Our kids are dedicated and they come and I don’t feel like they choke. I feel like they’re pretty calm and do their best. I don’t think they overstress themselves out."

McKennsie Rutan and Cassi Hicks were the only Lady Raiders to get first in a track event, as Rutan won the 100-meter hurdles and Hicks claimed the 300-meter hurdles.

North senior Carlin Light dominated with first-place finishes in the long jump and the high jump, while Rutan won the pole vault.

"I’ve really been working on the long jump," said Light, who broke the school record in the event. "I’ve been doing [track and field] since the sixth grade.

"This just says a lot about our team. We came in second last year and wanted to get first this time."

For a complete list of results, visit