Track & Field
The track & field teams at Lejeune High School collected more hardware for the trophy cases this spring. First, the boys’ and girls’ teams each took home third place trophies at the Coastal 8 1A/2A Conference Championship on May 1 with a gold medal from Kyle Baldwin in the pole vault and a silver from Georgia Lee in the two-mile. Then, the boys won their fifth-straight regional championship on May 10 by 23 points and the girls earned silver by a margin of three. Baldwin took gold in the pole vault again as Nicholas Presley got gold in two-mile run. Emalee Reynolds finished first in the pole vault at regionals for the girls as Lee placed second in the 3200-meter run.
Baldwin would go on to take home silver in the pole vault at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA) 1A State Championship on May 18. Other noteworthy performances from the boys’ team that finished 16th overall in the 1A division at state came from Dylan Presson, 7th in the pole vault, Karl Benson, 8th in the 1600-meter run, and Mason Nuckles, 8th in the 300-meter hurdles. Lee had a couple of top-10 finishes in the mile and two-mile for the girls as Reynolds placed 7th in the pole vault and Anna Perdue finished 7th in the discus.
With plenty of talent expected to return for next season, expectations will be high for the Devil Pups.
“I’m already excited for next season,” said boys’ track & field head coach Bronwyn Schwend. “We have so many athletes returning, and even on the way home from states they were talking about what next year will look like.”
Mason Nuckles, who finished 8th in the 300-meter hurdles at the state championship, will be the only member of the boys’ team to graduate.
“There’s a lot of growth potential,” said assistant boys’ coach Jim Gardiner. “The majority of our kids are sophomores and juniors so next year really looks bright.”
Sophomore Austin Barkhimer represented the LHS boys’ golf team at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s (NCHSAA) 1A State Championship this spring. Barkhimer qualified for the state championship with a round of 95 at the East Regional on May 7. Lejeune’s next best rounds were a 99 from freshman Robbie Morgan and two 105’s from Peter Sullivan and Broden Wilhelmsen. Head coach Michael Phillips attributes some of the high scores at regionals to nerves, but he understands and is confident that they’ll make it back to the regional competition again next spring. Despite finishing fifth at regionals, the boys’ golf team at LHS has a lot to look forward to next season with only two seniors graduating in Wilhelmsen and Aaron Pierce.
“The boys worked hard and made a lot of improvements in their golf game,” Phillips said. “They really seem to love the game and are always at the golf course playing.”
The LHS girls’ soccer team finished the season with a record of 5-13-2. Despite winning only two conference matches, they made it to the first round of the state playoffs where they lost to Research Triangle High School 8-1 on May 7. Head coach Charles Teegarden said that his team played well together and did their best regardless of the injuries they endured and the team’s overall lack of depth. Junior, Georgia Lee led the team with 24 goals and five assists. Jenna Negron found the back of the net five times. Ariana Quackenbush and Ashley Tagle each scored four times. Goalkeeper Victoria Scarborough led the Devil Pups with 72 saves.
“I think this is the first year for me to have three four-year players,” Teegarden said. “We seldom have four year players because of transition and movement of families and players. Our goal was to make the playoffs, and we did, so I’m happy about that. Good end to the season.”
Seniors Kayla Tomlinson, Jasmin Acosta and Quackenbush were Teegarden’s four-year players. Kaylee Moore, one of only four players to play in all 20 games, was the fourth senior on this year’s team.
The LHS baseball team finished the year with a final record of 1-17, but head coach Edison Vega believes that his team made strides over the course of the year that will pay off for the younger players in years to come.
“I felt that there was growth throughout the season,” Vega said. “As the season went on the team improved in many areas and gained experience.”
Junior Christopher Quinones led the Devil Pups with a batting average of .316, 12 hits and an on-base percentage of .422. Senior captain and all-conference player Jacob Still had eight RBIs, four doubles and a triple this season. Nicholas Simon had 10 hits and seven stolen bases. Vega, who is expecting to return six upperclassmen next season, started five underclassmen this year, three of which were freshmen. Caleb Middleton was the team’s other senior.
“As long as we continue with our core values and continue working hard and demonstrating sportsmanship, teamwork and dedication, I strongly believe that with the group of returners and with a good upcoming middle school group, Lejeune baseball will be something to look forward to next spring,” Vega said.
The LHS softball team went winless this spring. Of their 18 total losses, five came from forfeit due to multiple player injuries. Head coach Shannon White said that sophomore catcher Skyler Bovee was one of the team’s biggest leaders.
“Skyler’s leadership and ability behind the plate was so important for the growth of our team this year,” White said.
White also mentioned that pitcher Deanna Roberts showed good growth over the season and that Destiny Cornelius and Kiara Snipes were both key utility players. White expects to have only three returning players next season due to the number of PCS and retirement moves. This year’s seniors were Cornelius, Jennifer Watson and Natalia Gonzalez.