By D. Mark Mitchell
OHS BOYS TRACK TEAM WINS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP
The Opelika High School boys track team won the 6A state championship this past weekend in Gulf Shores. This was the seventh track and field championship in school history and first since 2007.
The Dawgs won the title despite trailing Homewood the first two days of the meet. Opelika dominated the third and final day. The Bulldogs sealed the championship by winning the final event, the 4 x 400 relay, with a time of 3:22.33, a full three seconds ahead of the second place team.
Opelika took six first place finishes. Nate Huggins led the team by winning three titles: the 100, 200 and 400 meter races. Marquavious Swanson won the 110 meter hurdles, Ben Bryant won the 3200 meters and the 4 x 400 meter relay team of Nate Huggins, Kacie Spinks, Marquavious Swanson and Jalin Marshall won their event.
Ben Bryant finished second in the 1600 meter run, Kacey Spinks was second in the 300 meter hurdles and the 4 x 800 meter relay team placed second. Jalin Marshall finished third in 100 meter dash and Kane Barrett was fourth in the 3200 meters.
The Opelika girls team finished third in the state. The Lady Bulldogs started slow but finished strong, moving from eighth to third on the last day.
Natalie Jordan was second in the 100 meter hurdles, Ty’tiana Lockhart was second in discus, while Jasmine Preston and Lazoria Yancey were third and fourth, respectively, in the discus.
Congratulations to the track teams! A first and a third in the state isn’t too shabby!
BOYS TRACK TEAM ROSTER
Ben Bryant, Ben Garner, Hayden Washburn, Kane Barrett, Damontae Martin, Franklin Vickerstaff, Johnston Jordan, Malik Butler, Jalin Marshall, Kacey Spinks, Nathanaiel Huggins, Marquevious Swanson, Zocario Bridges, Antonio Goodman, Will Boler, Jamias Presley. Isaiah McKissic, Tristan Black, Devin Guice and CJ Jordan.
Coaches: Tony Benitez, Victor Alvis, Trez Alford, Jonathan Chandler, Alex Dowdell and Jimmy Johnson.
The Bulldog baseball team lost a three game series in Spanish Fort last weekend in the state 6A quarterfinals. Opelika won game one, 9-3, lost game two 9-8 and lost the third game 7-5.
The Dawgs won the opener behind 13 hits and a stellar pitching effort from Gage Young. Young earned his tenth win of the season.
OHS started game two fast, taking a 8-2 lead into the sixth inning.
That’s when things turned bad. The Toros rallied, scoring seven runs to take a 9-8 lead heading to the final inning of regulation. The Dawgs could not score in the 7th and final inning.
With the series tied at 1 game each, the two teams were forced to play a third game at noon on Saturday to determine who advanced to the semifinals.
Spanish Fort took a 4-0 lead after the second inning.
The Dawgs battled back to take a 5-4 lead going to the fifth. The Toros answered with a solo homer to tie the game 5-5.
OHS did not score in the top of the sixth. Spanish Fort added two runs in the bottom of the sixth to lead 7-5. Opelika was unable to score in the seventh and Spanish Fort celebrated the series victory.
Head coach Billy Jones and staff took the Opelika baseball team to the quarterfinals ( final 8) in class 6A. OHS had not made the baseball playoffs since 2008, when they played in the championship game in Montgomery.
The 2015 team finished 30-12 overall, won an area title. Jones’ two- year record as the head coach of 57-20.
Coach Jones, assistants Rick Wade, Zach Blatt, Wade Meadows and Lavelle Spiegner and the team deserve congratulations! The baseball program is in good hands and will continue to improve. I enjoyed broadcasting the games and wish the four seniors, Mathew Christian, Gage Young, Harrison Morris and Bennett Whitman the very best!
Coach Brian Blackmon started his seventh spring practice as the OHS head football coach. The Dawgs will conclude spring practice next Friday, May 15, at 6 pm, against Park Crossing. This will be played as a regular football game. Gates will open at 5 pm.
The Dawgs practiced without some of the members of the team due to track and baseball.
I will review the spring workouts in the coming weeks.
KEEP UP WITH OPELIKA
Opelika fans can keep up with Opelika athletics weekdays by tuning in to my sports radio show, ON THE MARK, weekdays 7-9 am on WTLM 1520 or at iheartradio.com search WTLM. You can download the iheart radio app with a smart phone. Search Opelika/Auburn. Click on WTLM to listen. You can also follow me on Twitter @voiceofthedawgs.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.