EAHS senior hurdler brings home state championship

Eastern Alamance senior hurdler Karisma Marte clears the final hurdle on her way to the NCHSAA 3A state championship in the 300 meter hurdles event at Friday's meet on the campus of North Carolina A&T University. Marte ran the race in 43.26 seconds - besting second-place Keyana Yeoman of North Brunswick by more than six-tenths of a second. Marte competed in four events in the state championship meet, adding a fifth place finish in the 100 meter hurdles.

Eastern Alamance senior Karisma Marte saved her best performance for her very last race in the Eagles green and gold. Marte ran flawlessly and made a huge push down the stretch to earn the NCHSAA 3A state championship in the 300 meter hurdles event at the state championship meet Friday afternoon at Irwin Belk Field on the campus of North Carolina A&T University. 

In all, Marte competed in a total of four events at the NCHSAA state championship meet, helping the Eagles produce three top six individual and team results in women’s competitions. 

Marte came to Greensboro with the second overall seeding in the 300 meter event based on her performance at the Mideast Regionals in Sanford earlier this month. At that event, Marte ran a time of 43.87 seconds, which was narrowly behind Emmaya Waters of Durham Hillside, who ran a time of 43.82 seconds. 

This time around, Marte got off to a strong start and held her ground. As Marte, Waters, and North Brunswick’s Keyana Yeoman came around the turn going towards the finish line, approximately 200 meters into the race, Marte made a tremendous burst and took control. 

“Karisma put a lot of work in this season, and her race at the state meet demonstrated that,” Marte’s hurdling coach, Jessica Bilskie, said. “She had a great start and managed to take out a step in between some of the first few hurdles when comparing to her previous races of the season. Because of that, she set herself up to compete going into the curve. Then coming off the curve she managed to focus on her race and take the hurdles well, which is quite difficult to do when you get tired at the end.”

The Eagles senior ran the race of her life, leaving Yeoman and Waters as she came in with a time of 43.26 seconds. Yeoman placed second with a time of 43.91 seconds, and Waters placed third with a time of 44.79 seconds. 

“Karisma definitely seemed to have the race of her life for her 300 meter hurdle event,” EAHS women’s track coach Dana Edwards said. “She had a fast start and looked great going over her hurdles, which led to a strong finish. This is my third year working with Karisma and I was so proud of her for her win at states. She put in a lot of hard work during practice over her time at EAHS and deserved this win to finish out her senior year.” 

“I've only had the opportunity to coach her (Marte) for one season, but her work ethic and desire to keep getting better really impressed me, and I'm very glad the reward of a state champ title followed,” Bilskie added. “She executed the race very well, so it's no surprise to me that she achieved such a great time.” 

Marte also produced a top five finish for Eastern in the 100 meter hurdles event, posting a time of 14.93 seconds in the championship race. Alexis Patterson of Winston-Salem Parkland won the state title in the 100 meter hurdles event with a time of 13.91 seconds, which set a new North Carolina 3A state record. 

Marte entered the state finals in the 100 meters as the third overall seed, behind only Patterson and Eastern Guilford’s Zariyah Black, who placed second in the state finals (14.30 seconds). Marte placed fourth in the preliminaries (14.65 seconds) leading up to her fifth place result in the championship finals. 

Marte also made her final appearance for the Eagles in the state championships of two relay events, as EAHS qualified for the championship race in both the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay. 

Eastern’s women’s 4x100 meter relay squad arrived at the state finals as the state’s No. 9 seed in the 3A ranks, with a time of 49.81 seconds in the Mideast Regionals. In the state finals, the quartet of Marte, fellow senior Jade Richmond, sophomore Danielle Davis, and sophomore Madisyn Burnette improved on their time by more than two-tenths of a second, with a result of 49.60 seconds. The Eagles placed ninth out of 15 schools in the state meet. 

EAHS also entered the state finals as the No. 9 seed statewide in the women’s 4x200 meter relay, having produced a time of 1 minute, 43.62 seconds in the Mideast Regionals. 

Although the Eagles were slightly off that time in the state championship race, as Marte, sophomore Samia Miller, junior Jessika Alston, and sophomore Madisyn Burnette recorded a time of 1 minute, 43.97 seconds, they managed a sixth place finish statewide in the 15-school race. Parkland won the state championship in both the women’s 4x100 and 4x200 relay events.  

“The girls 4X200 and 4X100 also had a great day and worked hard to compete on the state level,” Edwards replied. 

Eastern had one other female competitor participate in multiple events, as freshman Laila Anderson qualified for the NCHSAA 3A state championship race in both the 1,600 and 3,200 meter distance runs. Anderson entered the state finals as the 11th overall seed out of 16 qualifiers in the 1,600 meter run (5 minutes, 26.31 seconds), and the 13th seed out of 16 qualifiers in the 3,200 meter run (12 minutes, 4.78 seconds). 

Anderson placed 11th in the championship race in the 1,600 meters, as she posted a time of 5 minutes, 27.75 seconds. She ranked third among the five ninth graders who qualified for the state championship race. Hayley Whoolery of West Johnston won the 1,600 meter state title (5 minutes, 2.12 seconds). 

In the 3,200 meter finals, Anderson came in with a time of 12 minutes, 21.02 seconds, which placed 14th overall. But as one of only four freshmen among the 16 competitors in the state finals, Anderson will have an opportunity to make her way up the standings in future years. Jonna Strange of North Iredell won the 3,200 meter state championship (10 minutes, 53.20 seconds). 

“I am also proud of Laila for reaching state finals her freshman year,” Edwards said. “Laila exudes great sportsmanship and has such a wonderful attitude during practices and meets. I know that with her hard work ethic and positivity she has a bright future ahead. I look forward to watching her compete in the upcoming years.

EAHS senior sprinter Caleb Baldwin qualified for the men’s 100 meter dash finals, but got unlucky, as he suffered an injury during the preliminaries. 

“Caleb pulled up short in the 100 meter prelims with a hip injury,” Eastern High men’s track coach Brad Warren explained. “His day was cut short because of that injury. It’s awful for that to happen to a kid that works as hard as he does.”

Eastern’s men’s track squad sent two of its relay teams - the 4x100 and 4x200 meter squads - to the state finals. The Eagles went to Greensboro as the No. 5 overall seed in the 4x100 event based off a time of 42.62 seconds in the Mideast Regionals, and No. 9 in the 4x200 event. 

Due to Baldwin’s injury, however, the Eagles wound up not competing in the 4x200 meter event. Eastern did compete in the 4x100 event, placing 12th in the championship finals with a time of 43.80 seconds. 

Although it wasn’t an ideal finish to the season for the EAHS boy’s track squad, their coach was pleased with their hard work and dedication throughout the year, which gave them the opportunity to make their way to compete against the state’s best. 

“That injury (to Baldwin) caused us to rearrange our 400 and 800 relays,” Warren said. “It just wasn’t our day to compete at full tilt but I’m super proud of our guys to make it to the state championship.”