BY MICHAEL HELD
WINSTON-SALEM—Princeton’s Shae Malham and Austin Sullivan represented the Princeton Bulldogs at the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1A/2A state championships last weekend in Winston-Salem and both posted top-10 performances.
The timing couldn’t have been much worse for Sullivan as the Bulldogs’ accomplished long distance runner came down with a bonified case of the flu mere days before he was to compete in the 1600 and 3200 meter runs at the JDL Fast Track against the best runners in the state.
In the end, Sullivan put up a valiant effort in the 1600 leading all his competitors for the first three laps before the effects of his illness started to kick in. The senior placed seventh with a time of four minutes, 48.48 seconds–only three-and-a-half seconds slower than his qualifying time.
“Considering the circumstances with being as sick as he is, that’s about as good as he could do,” Princeton coach Mark McLamb said. “He looked good for the first three laps and I think that maybe he was just going a little harder than he needed to and he paid the price at the end but you can’t complain given the circumstances.”
Sullivan’s seventh place finish was one spot higher than he finished in last season’s indoor track championships. Brevard’s Noah Graham won gold in both the 1600 and 3200, which Sullivan ultimately decided against participating in.
In the girls pole vault, Shae Malham managed to clear 7 feet but, in an increasingly competitive field, that was good enough for 10th place.
Malham, who placed second in the event a year ago, noticed how many more athletes qualified for states this season as compared to last year’s event, which she joked took only about 10 minutes from start to finish to complete.
“It’s definitely very humbling to know that you can train the same way and do just as well as everybody else but competing against 2A schools (is tough),” said Malham, who came off an injury last season that delayed the start of her training. “Considering it all, I think I did okay.”
Draughn High School’s Leanna Seagraves cleared 9 feet, 8 inches to win the event.
McLamb is proud of the way her junior competed in the beefed-up field.
“I think the big thing really with her is that some of these girls pole vault all year-round,” McLamb said. “She does gymnastics and other sports too so it’s not something she does year-round.
“She’ll improve once she gets to outdoor season and she goes, three, four, five months vaulting in a row; she’ll get better.”