By Wil Crews
The AHSAA Track & Field State Championships were held this past weekend and a number of Lee County student-athletes earned statewide recognitions.
The 1A through 3A schools’ competition was held in Cullman, Alabama, at Cullman High School, and the 4A through 7A competitions were held in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
To read about the state champion Opelika boys track & field team, and the Opelika girls who tied for fifth place out of 34 participating teams, read D. Mark Mitchell’s column on B1.
The Beulah Bobcats girls’ track & field team tied for 11th with 20 points at the state meet. They finished fourth in both the team 4×400 meter relay, and the 4×800 relay. On the other hand, the boys team finished in 21st place, tallying eight points total. The best finish as a team was No. 11 in the team 4×800 meter relay.
While neither squad was able to finish in the top three – as a team or individually – and put on the podium, a number of individual athletes performed well in their particular events.
For the girls, senior Angelica Calloway had the highest individual finish, placing sixth in the 400 meter dash. Her teammate, junior Myleah Beaty, was the second best individual performer as she placed seventh in the 100 meter hurdles. Beaty also ran 13th in the 300 meter hurdles while sophomore Tymesha Miles has two more years to improve upon her 22nd place finish. In shot put, junior Cara Wood placed 11th while junior Grace Portis placed 17th. Wood also had a strong showing in discus, placing 11th. Lastly, Portis showcased her versatility with a No. 21 finish in the javelin.
On the boys’ side of things, senior Latravious Wilson had the best day, finishing seventh in the 200 meter dash. Senior Graisan Prestridge placed No. 12 in the 800 meter dash and 18th in the 1600 meter run. Freshman Jacori Tarver flashed his potential with a strong 13th place finish in shot put, and freshman Thet Morris can build off his 23rd place finish in the 300 meter hurdles for three more years.
The Beauregard Hornets boys’ and girls’ track & field teams placed ninth and tied for third, respectively, at the AHSAA state track & field meet.
“This year’s senior class finished their track careers with an incredible performance at the state meet,” said Beauregard coach Ty Ford. “This senior class has worked hard and led this team through the toughest few years for student athletes to maintain their peak performance due to missing nearly their entire junior season because of the COVID pandemic. To come through that and finish out their careers with a third place finish for the girls and a ninth place finish for the boys in a field of 57 5A schools is awesome.”
Freshman Katie Wilkerson won the individual javelin competition to be crowned state champion, and senior Keyshon Tolefree came in second in the triple jump.
“Katie Wilkerson came into the weekend seeded as the number three thrower in the state in class 5A,” Ford said. “Earlier in the season I had to convince her to miss a make-up softball game to throw in a meet. I told her then that she had a shot at being the state champion in javelin. When she ripped off her season best throw of 107 feet, 1-inch, that put her in first place. I knew that she was in the driver’s seat, and it was just a matter of hanging on. When all the competitors had thrown their final attempt and her distance stood at the top of the list, I called out her name, threw both fists up in the air and let out a loud yell. As a ninth grader, I have every confidence that she will get better and hopefully be able to defend her state title three more years. With that, along with several other young talented teammates, she has a high chance of not just being the javelin event state champion but being a member of a state championship track and field team.”
The best team performance for the boys came in the 4×100 meter relay, where the Hornets placed 6th. They also placed 12th in the 4×400. For the girls, the 4×800 meter relay saw them finish on the podium with a third place bronze medal around their necks. The Lady Hornets also finished fourth in the 4×100 meter team relay, and 10th in the 4×400.
Individual performances for the boys are as follows: 3200 meter run, junior Joshua Len, 14th; high jump, senior Brandon Weatherly, 6th; pole vault, sophomore Braxton Hughes, 6th; triple jump, Weatherly, 5th; discus, sophomore Riley Wilson, 6th; javelin, sophomore Jacob Clark, 14th.
Individual performances for the girls are as follows: 200 meter dash, senior A’Lailah Billingsley, 5th; 800 meter run, freshman Molly Conway, 3rd, senior Josie Wiggins, 4th; 1600 meter run, Conway, 4th, Wiggins, 12th, seventh grader Rolley Len Kirk, 18th; 3200 meter run, Conway, 7th; high jump, senior Alexxia Carter, 12th; long jump, sophomore Akaylin Echols, 19th; triple jump, Echols, 15th; shot put, eighth grader Allison Sheeley, 4th; discus, Sheely, 4th.
7A Smiths Station
The Smiths Station Panthers boys track & field team placed No. 24 over the weekend while the girls failed to place. The highlights for smiths were a 14th place finish in the boys 4×400 meter team relay. The boys then followed that up with a No. 15 finish in the 4×800 meter relay. Siblings Jaxon Prins and Railey Prins were the individual standouts for the Panthers. The freshman, Railey, placed 15th in the 3200 meter run, and 20th in the 1600 meter run. Her brother, a senior, placed 24th in the 800 meter run.
Other Panthers who placed include: 300 meter hurdles, senior Rhiannon Sevier, 20th; 300 meter hurdles, junior Tavin Womack, 16th; shot put, junior Malek Harris, 20th; discus, Harris, 21st.
7A Auburn High
Besides Opelika, the Auburn High boys’ and girls’ track & field team performed the best out of Lee County public schools – although Beauregard may beg to differ. The boys made the podium as a team, finishing third with 74 points. And the girls finished just two spots away from medaling, coming in fifth with 52.50 points.
However, the girls did make the podium in one team event, placing third in the 4×800 meter relay. They finished fifth and sixth in the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays, respectively. While the boys did not place highly in any team events (sixth in the 4×800 and ninth in the 4×400 meter relay), a number of individuals put their abilities on full showcase. For starters, Patrick Sweeney placed first in four ambulatory events: the 100 meter dash, 200 meter dash, shot put and discus.
Furthermore, senior Tray Reynolds placed No. 1 overall in the 110 meter hurdles. Reynolds also placed fourth in the 300 meter hurdles and 13th in high jump. Three others student-athletes received medals as sophomore Maxwell Hardin placed second in the 1600 meter run, junior Charlie Sexton placed second in the 200 meter dash and Jackson Holladay placed third in discus.
Not to be outdone, the girls team had strong individual showings as well, with two girls making the podium in their respective events. Seventh grader Abby Merner placed second in the 1600 meter and 3200 meter runs, and freshman Tytiana Sparks placed second in high jump.
The rest of the individual performances from the girls are as follows: 400 meter dash, junior Djamilah Diabate, 19th; 800 meter dash, sophomore Liviy Tole, sixth; 1600 meter run, Tole, 10th, sophomore Sangie Licoln-Velez, 16th; 3200 meter run, junior Lessye Gray, 18th, senior Olivia McAnulty, 19th; 300 meter hurdles, senior Destiny Thompson, 11th; high jump, junior Georgia Von Gal, fifth; freshman Hope Foster, tied for seventh; pole vault, sophomore Emma Earles, fourth; long jump, junior Katelynn Evans, 18th, junior Milan Gardner, 19th, junior Sophie Turner, 20th; triple jump, Von Gol, ninth, Garner, 14th, Foster, 16th; javelin, junior Caroline Crum, seventh, and junior Erika Hardin, eigth.
The rest of the individual boys’ performances are as follows: 400 meter dash, Sexton, fifth, junior Forest Adams, sixth, senior Michael Reuss, 23rd; 800 meter run, senior Aubrey Lake, fourth, senior Jeffrey Blair, 16th, Nathan Stewart, 19th; 1600 meter run, Lake, 10th; 3200 meter run, Hardin, fourth; 300 meter hurdles, senior Cameron Dowdell, 13th, junior Will Waller, 19th; high jump, sophomore Octavian Brown, 23rd, senior Kamarious Hill, 24th; pole vault, senior Graham Barnett, 10th; long jump, Brad Harper, fourth, junior Derrick Tarver, 16th; triple jump, Tarver, fourth, Harper, 14th; shot put, junior Marsalis Carter , 17th; discus, senior Sam Anderson, sixth.