Mount Airy has racked up several medals in track and field in recent years, led by a couple of long-distance runners.
Matus Kriska and Kirsten Parries won many events, set some conference records and even set a couple of state records.
Kriska won both the mile (1,600m) and two-mile (3,200m) runs in the same day in 2010. Then in his senior year, he won the cross country state championship in the fall. At the state track championship the following May, Kriska chose not to run both the 800 and 1,600 in the same day.
Focusing just on the 1,600, Kriska not only won the gold, he broke the state record with a time of 4:24. He finished his career with five track titles and two cross-country titles.
At that same meet, the freshman Parries finished third in the 3,200 at 12:04, just 11 seconds behind the winner.
The next fall, Parries moved up from sixth-best in the Northwest Conference to champion.
Not only did she win runner of the year, Parries broke the conference record with a stunning 19:27, nine seconds faster than the previous record. Basketball star Jordan Hiatt came in a close second with 19:37, only a split-second off the old record herself.
With a similar time of 19:33, Parries won the state championship two weeks later.
At the track championship in 2012, Parries and Hiatt teamed up for a rec0rd-setting 4x800m relay.
Those two, Davi Barbour and Alex Mayes were a distant second to Gray Stone Day at the regional meet, but at the state level, the Bears never let Gray Stone get too far ahead.
With 200 meters left, Gray Stone had opened up about a 30-foot lead and one race official said to another, “It’s over now.”
Then Parries kicked into gear and closed up that gap, then she lunged forward at the finish to take the gold.
When the official time was revealed, both Mount Airy and Gray Stone had beaten the old record, so the Bears now hold the state record with 9:42.16.
As a junior, Parries won the conference cross-country runner of the year award, but had too fast a start in the state race and burned out early, dropping down to third.
In track last year, she finished second in the 3,200 to Malia Ellington, Community School of Davidson, who would also beat her in the 2014 race.
As a senior, Parries won the conference title in cross-country again. At the state meet, she was in fourth place and gaining on the leaders when she fell and was skinned up. She eventually finished back in ninth place.
Howard said, “The only thing that disappoints me is the winner won with a 19:05 time, and that is what Parries ran at conference. So forever, we will have to live with what if.”
In her final 3,200 race, Parries cut half a minute off her junior year time, but Ellington cut 20 seconds off her own time and still beat Parries in the rematch.
Other Mount Airy track highlights of the past four years:
• In 2011, Joktan Moore earned the bronze medal in triple jump.
• The next year, Moore took first in triple jump, second in long jump and third in the 300m hurdles. At the same meet in 2012, Barbour was fourth in the 800m.
• In 2013, Corey Valentine took first in triple jump, third in high jump and fourth in long jump. Parley Gentry was second in discus.
• This year, Cordell France won the silver in the 200m, and Gabriel King was fourth in discus.
• While this list is about Mount Airy’s many accomplishments, no track and field article would be complete with mentioning North Surry’s Alex Cooke.
In her junior year, Cooke was picked to finish second in shot put by MileSplit. However she overcame Starmount’s Samantha Welborn and Carrboro’s Diamond Tyson to take gold.
Cooke won the indoor track gold in shot put her senior year, then repeated as state champ in outdoor track last month.
Her distance of 41-09 in Greensboro earned her “national elite” status. That throw would have easily won her the 3A gold, too, and was worthy of sixth among all classes in North Carolina.