The Week Ahead
State championship chases begin
State championship dreams will begin coming true for the winter sports season this weekend with the swimming state finals starting Thursday and continuing through Saturday at the Triangle Aquatics Center in Cary.
The 4A finals are up first on Thursday with the 3A meet set for Friday and the 1A/2A finals on Saturday.
The winter track and field state championships shift west for the first time this year, moving to the new JBL Fast Track in Winston-Salem. The combined 1A/2A/3A championships start at 9 a.m. with the 4A finals following at 4 p.m.
Corinth Holders distance runner Arden Vessie is a state championship contender in the 1A/2A/3A meet at 3,200 meters.
Southeast Raleigh’s Sandy Chapman is a top qualifier in the 4A boys long and triple jumps. Defending state champion Knightdale is a favorite for the boys team championship.
The 4A girls field features a pair of Johnston County standouts with strong chances for a state title: Mollie Williams of Clayton in the 55 meters and West Johnston’s Jasmine Dawson in the 55 meters.
Southeast Raleigh’s Ama-Selina Tchume is the top qualifier in the long jump.
Greater Neuse River boys showdowns
Garner (15-2 entering this week) visits Clayton (16-2) with a chance to get the inside track on another Greater Neuse River 4A Conference boys basketball championship. The Trojans won the first meeting and would take a two-game lead on the field with a road win.
But the Comet crazies will be ready to make that as tough as possible. Clayton standout Gary Clark had 42 points and 24 rebounds in the first meeting.
Two nights later, Garner visits Knightdale. Pulling off back-to-back road wins over the Comets and Knights would be a big statement as playoff time approaches for the Trojans.
Clayton turns around on Friday to visit rival Smithfield-Selma.
Bye-bye dual regular-season. ...
Area conferences wrap up their dual wrestling regular-season slates this week with matches Tuesday on Wednesday. Corinth Holders and West Johnston have already clinched outright conference titles, while Cleveland needs a win at Triton to finish off its outright league crown.
The state dual playoffs begin Feb 12.
And hello individual championship chase
The conference individual championships in wrestling are all on Saturday. Smithfield-Selma High hosts the Greater Neuse River 4A Conference schools, while the Eastern Carolina 3A teams head to C.B. Aycock.
Corinth Holders and North Johnston are in the Northern Carolina 2A meet at Franklinton and Rosewood hosts Princeton among others in the Carolina 1A finals.
Pirates sail away from home
Corinth Holders boys and girls basketball teams finish up their regular-season slate with three straight road trips starting Friday at Franklinton. The Pirates visit Roanoke Rapids on Tuesday, then finish up at Louisburg on Feb. 15.