WAXHAW – As the Weddington boys started on their run of three straight NCHSAA 3A outdoor track and field titles in 2016, the Cuthbertson boys were 18th in the state. Nathan Johnson, Casey Stamper, Justin Crawley and Bradon Black may have changed the whole trajectory of the Cuthbertson boys program with a win that year in the outdoor 4×400 relay.
The foursome had held off a very good Weddington team, featuring future N.C. Gatorade Runner of the Year Kyle Durham and all-timer Emmerson Douds by 0.92 seconds while running nearly four seconds faster than their seeded time to pull off the upset.
“It kind of took off from there when they saw the excitement build,” Cuthbertson coach Dustin Allen said.
It’s spread so much the Cavs have become a major player in the indoor state championship, moving from ninth at the indoor championship in 2017, eighth in 2018 and second to Weddington last year.
The Cavs look to take another shot at the program’s first-ever boys indoor championship. It will be tough with Weddington dominating the distance events with a pack of talented runners, but Cuthbertson has plenty of star power of their own.
“We have three boys in the top nine in the 300,” Allen said. “The 4×2 and 4×4 are ranked No. 1. We have three boys in the long jump and three in the triple jump who are ranked really high. The three boys in the high jump all got 6-2, which is the school record, and then Vince (Frattaroli, who is tied for ninth in 3A) with pole vaulting and Mickey (Schihl) with distance.”
The Cavs know what they’re up against with Weddington looming, but that’s not a deterrent to go full out at the state meet Feb. 14.
“This team is hungry after barely falling short last year,” jumper Christian Phelps said. “We want to avenge that this year.”
Phelps placed fifth in the triple jump and 10th in the high jump last year. He was part of the state championship 4×200 relay team.
Aidan McNally was on the 4×200 team as well. McNally is ranked eighth in the state in the 300 regardless of classification and placed fifth in last year’s championship meet. He was also a member of the 4×400 team that took second place last year.
Branson McAdams, who has ascended toward the top of the state’s high jumpers this season, says it’s his team’s versatility that sets it apart.
“It’s kind of a blessing that we have a team where so many people can do so many activities,” he said. “A lot of schools have kids that can only do one thing, so that helps us out and lets us win meets.”
With the Charlotte City Championships, a meet the boys have won the past two years, scheduled for Feb. 8 at Cuthbertson and the state championship in two weeks, the boys are trying to finish strong.
“We want to win states, especially since last year was second place,” McNally said. “We’re trying for first. We want to win the city championship this week and keep it going as long as we can.”