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Jay’s Featured Stars: Cuthbertson’s Townsend keeps running through adversity

The Call with Hickory Ridge High pitcher Nolan DeVos

Hickory Ridge High pitcher Nolan DeVos takes The Call from the Observer's Langston Wertz Jr. to talk state championship chases, signed with Davidson and how to throw four-seam fastballs
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Hickory Ridge High pitcher Nolan DeVos takes The Call from the Observer's Langston Wertz Jr. to talk state championship chases, signed with Davidson and how to throw four-seam fastballs

Mackenzie Townsend remembers the pain that shot through her left leg as she ran the third leg of Cuthbertson High’s 1,600-meter relay in the 2018 N.C. 3A state championship race.

But instead of letting that pain stop her, Townsend put all of her focus on her Cuthbertson track teammates -- Aubrie Farwell, Florah Henry and Dahlia Cutler -- who were cheering her on, waiting for her to pass the baton to Cutler, who would run the final leg of the race. Cuthbertson ended up finishing fourth, thanks to Townsend’s effort.

Back then, no one knew just how heroic it was.

Two weeks later, Townsend found out that she gutted out a 58-second split of the 4 X 400-meter relay at the 3A state championship on a broken left leg.

Doctors confirmed the fracture in a non-weight bearing bone of her left leg in an x-ray in early June, according to Cuthbertson track coach, Dustin Allen.

“I remember getting ready for the race that day, putting icy hot on my legs and try to just focus on running,” said Townsend, who admits she had been in pain for weeks. “I really felt the pain that last 100 meters (of her 400-meter leg of relay) and I was just telling myself, ‘just make it, just make it and pass the baton.’ When you’re running for your team, it means so much more than when you are running individually. In that moment, I knew my teammates needed me to finish strong and I was going to everything I could do to accomplish that.”

Her coach knew she was in past, if not how much.

“Leading up to regionals and states, Mackenzie didn’t really even run in practice, instead doing most of her work in the pool and on a bike,” Allen said. “But we all knew she was hurting pretty bad because she told me she could just run one of her races at states. She chose to run the relay because she didn’t want to let her teammates down. It’s still hard to believe that Mackenzie ran a 58-second split with a broken leg.”

Townsend, who was training for outdoor nationals with her 4 X 400-meter relay team, was immediately shut down for eight weeks, and wasn’t allowed to do any lower body activity for most of the summer and into the fall.

Townsend returned to competitive track when the indoor season began in November, but her comeback was short lived when severe shin splits forced her to be shut down just weeks into her return

This time, x-rays showed there were no fractures and the plan was for her to return to the track after the holiday break.

Townsend returned in January, and was able to help the Cuthbertson girls’ track team win their third straight N.C. 3A state indoor championship despite missing most of week in school and track practice because of an illness.

The Cuthbertson junior, no stranger to setbacks, was determined to contribute to her team at the indoor state meet.

“I wasn’t going to let anything stop me from competing at (indoor) states this year,” said Townsend, who had missed the 3A state indoor meet her freshman year with the flu. “I’ve had some kind of issue each season, from my hips my freshman year, to the broken leg my sophomore year to getting sick a few times right during states. Now, to finally be fully healthy this season (junior year) and not have any pain is great feeling.

…I don’t have to think about how hard I can push myself in practice or if I can finish a race. I can just focus on running my best race.”

Townsend has been at her best this outdoor season, winning the Southern Carolinas’ conference (SCC) and Union County titles in the 400-meter run.

But Townsend had the best meet of her career earlier this month, when she won the 400-meter dash (57.3) and finished as runner-up in the 200-meter dash (26.24), while leading her Cuthbertson team to a 3A Midwest Regional title (by 125.5 points) at North Henderson High.

Townsend also helped the Cavaliers’ 4 X 200-meter relay (with Addy Benz, Kailyn Hayes, D. Cutler) and 4 X 400-meter relay team (A. Benz, Presley Worf, D. Cutler) to 3A Midwest Regional championships at the same meet.

Townsend and Cuthbertson finished second in the N.C. 3A state meet last week, just seven points behind state champ Winston-Salem Parkland. Townsend and her 1,600-meter relay teammates finished third in the state meet. Townsend ran on an 800-meter relay team that finished fourth. And she was fifth in the 400.

So while Townsend, 16, has overcome and accomplished a lot on the track, the lessons she has learned through the ups and downs of her time at Cuthbertson will last for a lifetime.

“I’ve learned a lot of things by running track that apply to everyday life,” said Townsend, who was chosen as one of the team captains as a junior. “You’re going to get knocked down by things that happen (in life) sometimes. But if you don’t pick yourself back up and try again, you won’t even have a chance to accomplish your goals. You always have to keep fighting for what you want.”

Cora Cooke, Myers Park Track: The Myers Park won two individual events to help her Mustangs’ team to a 4A West Regional title at Providence, May 11.

Cooke won the 800-meter run regional title in a personal-best, 2:17.74.

She also won the 4A West Regional, 1600-meter title in 5:11.37.

Cooke also helped Myers Park’s 4 X 800-meter relay (with teammates, Sofia Christofaro, Emily Jones and Sarah Holshouser) to a third-place finish at the 4A West Regional meet.

Ivana McLamb, Northwestern Track: The Northwestern senior won two individual events the S.C. 5A State Championships at Spring Valley High, May 11.

McLamb won a state title in 100-meter hurdles in a personal-record of 14.16, the No. 3 time run in the state this outdoor season.

She also won the 5A state championship in the high jump with a 5-4.

McLamb led the Trojans to a 5th-place finish as a team at the state championship meet.\u0009

Ruthie Jones, Charlotte Latin Soccer: The Charlotte Latin senior goalkeeper had eight saves and recorded a shutout in the Hawks’ 4-0, NCISAA 3A state quarterfinal win over Cannon School, May 10.

Jones, a Duke University signee, has 117 saves and 11 shutouts for Charlotte Latin (16-3-1) this season.

Logan Boggs, Marvin Ridge Soccer: The Marvin Ridge junior goalkeeper helped the Mavericks to two 3A playoff wins.

Boggs earned a shutout in the Mavericks’ 7-0 victory over Central Cabarrus, May 7.

Two days later, Boggs had 13 critical saves in a 2-1 overtime win over Asheville.

Boggs has 151 saves and 11 shutouts in 23 games for Marvin Ridge (20-3) this season.

Arianna Maibodi, Myers Park Soccer: The Myers Park senior had both goals in a 2-0 win over Ardrey Kell in the 2nd round of the 4A state playoffs, May 10.

Maibodi, a Charlotte 49ers’ commit, has 32 goals and five assists this season, including nine games of two goals or more this year.

Katerina Peroulas, Providence Day Soccer: The Providence Day sophomore forward had five goals and one assist to lead the Chargers to 9-0 win over Wesleyan Christian in the NCISAA 3A state quarterfinals, May 10.

Peroulas, who has 17 goals and 15 assists for the Chargers (15-3-1) this season, already has college soccer interest from several Ivy League and Southeastern Conference (SEC) schools, according to Providence Day soccer coach, Dan Dudley.

Peroulas helped lead the Chargers to Saturday’s state championship win over 4-time state champ Charlotte Latin.

Abbey Ranta, East Rutherford Softball: The East Rutherford senior pitcher tossed two complete games in two playoffs wins without allowing an earned run.

Ranta helped the Cavaliers to a 1-0 win at Fred T. Foard, followed by a 5-1 victory over West Davidson, May 10.

Charlotte Observer Boys’ Athletes of the Week

Kyle Durham, Weddington Track: The Weddington senior won two individual events and one relay to help his Warriors’ team to a 3A West Regional title at Monroe (by 41.5 points), May 10-11.

Durham won 3A Midwest Regional title in the 800-meter run in a personal-best 1:51.65, which is the No. 2 time run in the state this outdoor season, the No. 10 time run in nation (outdoor season) and No. 16 all-time in state history, according to milesplit.com.

Durham, an N.C. State commit, also won the 1600-meter run (4:25.44) and helped the 4 X 400-meter relay (with Will Mazur, Jake Toomer and Jackson O’Hara) to 3A West Regional championships.

Jason Krell, Providence Day Track: The Providence Day junior earned three, CISAA conference titles and a runner-up finish at Charlotte Country Day May 9-10.

Krell won the CISAA, 800-meter run in a personal-best, 1:57 (No. 12 in the state this outdoor season), and also won the league title in the 1600-meter run (4:27.47) and anchored the 4 X 800-meter relay team (with Charlie Rosbrook, Colter Nichols and Adam Habas) to victory at the same meet.

Krell was also the 3200-meter runner-up to teammate, Christian Landis, at the CISAA had.

Nolan DeVos, Hickory Ridge Baseball: The Hickory Ridge senior had another big week on the mound and at the plate in two, Ragin’ Bulls’ playoff wins.

DeVos started his week with a complete-game, four hitter with six strikeouts to lead Hickory Ridge a 4-2 victory at West Forsyth, May 7.

Three nights later, DeVos stepped up at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a run scored in the Ragin’ Bulls 7-5 win over Northwest Guilford, May 10.

DeVos, a Davidson College commit, is 7-1 with 105 strikeouts in 52 innings of work with a 1.88 earned-run average (ERA) for Hickory Ridge (17-8) this season. He is also batting .344 with three home runs, 12 RBI and 16 runs scored.

Cade Caggiano/Jackson Price, Ardrey Kell Lacrosse: The Ardrey Kell sophomore attack duo had a historic week in leading the Knights to playoffs win over Ronald Reagan and Myers Park.

Caggiano broke the school-record for goals in a season as he now has 80 goals this year after scoring seven goals and dishing out seven assists in the two playoffs wins. Former Ardrey Kell standout, Teddy Snyder, set the previous mark with 77 goals in 2017.

Caggiano had his biggest game of the week with four goals and six assists in a 17-5 win over Ronald Reagan, May 7.

Price broke the school-record for overall points scored in a season, as he now has 130 points this season (58 goals, 72 assists). Price broke the mark of former Knights’ star, Lex Voelker, who had 121 points in 2017.

Price’s had five goals and six assists in the two wins last week, with two goals and three assists in a tight, 12-11 win over Myers Park, May 10.

Jack Heath, Charlotte Catholic Golf: The Charlotte Catholic junior shot a three-under par, 69, to win medalist honors at the 3A West Regional at Riverbend Golf Club in Shelby, May 6.

Heath led the Charlotte Catholic team to a 3A West title (team score of 288), winning by 16 shots over runner-up, Forestview.

Charlotte Catholic senior, Drew Hackett, was the 3A West Regional runner-up with a 70.

Cougars’ teammates in senior, Alex Rubino (74, tied-8th), and junior, Mitchell Tanis, (75, tied-11th) also contributed to the victory.

Thomas Eubanks, Myers Park Golf: The Myers Park senior shot a two-under par, 69, to win medalist honors at the 4A West Regional at Statesville Country Club, May 7.

Eubanks also led his Mustangs’ team to a 4A West Regional title (team score of 289), besting the field by 11 shots.

Myers Park senior, Luke Hackworth, shot 72 (tied-3rd), while sophomore, Pearse Lucas, shot 73 (tied-5th), junior, Ben Morehead, shot 75 (8th) for the Mustangs.

Eubanks, a University of Maryland commit, is also ranked No. 5 in the state in the junior golf rankings, according to the Tar Heel Youth Golf Association (TYGA).

Caleb Surratt, Union Academy Golf: The Union Academy freshman shot a two-under par, 70, to win the 1A Midwest Regional by five shots at Cedarbrook Country Club, May 6.

Surratt, the PAC 7 Conference player of the year, averages a 33.5 per nine holes this season.

Surratt is also an accomplished junior golfer, as he is ranked No. 43 in the state, according to the Tar Heel Youth Golf Association (TYGA).

Lake Norman Charter Golf Team: The Lake Norman Charter golf team stay undefeated on the season, shooting a school-record, 294 (as a team), to win the 2A Midwest Regional by 15 shots at Pilot Knob Golf Course in Pilot Mountain, May 6.

Knights’ freshman, Ben Bailey, led the way shooting a 72 to earn co-medalist honors.

Lake Norman Charter sophomore, Carter Busse shot 73 (3rd-place), senior, Jace Arko shot 74 (tied-4th), freshman, Will Dalton, shot a 75 (tied-9th) and senior, Ian Johnson shot 80 (tied-22nd).

Cooper Fensterstock, Amarillo Bulls Hockey: The Matthews’ native had a huge week in his hockey career both on and off the ice.

Fensterstock, 18, became the 3rd-Charlotte area born player (joining Bryan and Kyle Moore) to be picked in the USHL draft when the Des Moines Buccaneers chose him with 33rd selection (3rd round), May 7.

Fensterstock then helped his Amarillo Bulls’ team to the NAHL Robertson Cup’s semifinal series, where his team lost two games to one, May 10-12.

Fensterstock, who had three goals and five assists in 11 playoff games for the Bulls, reports to the Des Moines’ Buccaneers tryout camp, June 14.

** Information published today includes statistics through May 12.

Want to nominate an athlete?: Athletes of the week highlights high school players with outstanding performances. The goal is to recognize all athletes in all sports, both the most accomplished and the underrated or underappreciated players. If you want to suggest someone to be included in the Athletes of the week column, send email to Jay Edwards at edwardswork23@gmail.com. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information.

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