The varsity Opelika High School girls’ track and field team finished No. 14 overall in the AHSAA Class 6A State Championship meet in Gulf Shores, Alabama, last weekend.

“Overall, I’m just absolutely thrilled with how the season turned out,” said head coach Jonathan Fischer. “A lot of meets we went to we finished first or second; we continued to set personal bests week in and week out, and that’s all you can really ask for — each time you step on a track, everybody performs their best.”

Boasting a team of 17 girls, only five of whom are seniors, Fischer is proud of how his team competed and the experience they gained.

“That was probably the biggest thing we took away — we gained a lot of experience,” he said. “Overall, [there was] a lot of positive performances from the girls. You look at the trend … throw in the COVID year … the girls are trending in the right way because there is a lot of potential for where they are going to be moving forward.”

The best weekend performance from the Bulldog girls came from the 4×100-meter relay team, which finished second in the event, behind first place finishers Saraland High School, with a time of 48.50. Other runners set individual bests, Fischer said.

Having entered the season with relatively low expectations, Fischer said it has been a delight to watch the student-athletes hone their craft. 

“Back in January, we were adding a bunch of ninth and 10th grade potential to the team and that was exciting because you look at the future and think it’s great, but we didn’t really know what to expect as far the season goes. Our girls really owned up to the challenge of being a little bit of a younger core and taking that on and trying to accomplish as much as they could.”

The strong performances throughout the season wouldn’t have been possible without the senior leadership of Breckin Gould, Niya Walton and Haley Sanders, Fischer said.

“Without them we lack a lot of guidance,” he said. “They did a great job of leading from their positions and roles on the team. I was really proud of how they handled the younger group, leading them and helping to cultivate the growth of this team.”

Although Fischer will not be the coach next season, with a large chunk of athletes returning next year, the Lady Bulldog track and field program continues to set itself up for success and the head coach is excited for what the future holds.

“We have a lot of young talent,” he said. “Its set up for new leadership to come in and take this girls’ program over and really succeed with hit. The future is very bright.”

For more information on how the Opelika girls’ and boys’ track and field teams performed at state, read D. Mark Mitchell’s latest column on B1.