Tait dominates in Gulf Shores

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

GULF SHORES – Emmanuel Tait made sure his last track meet in a Thompson uniform was one to remember. The senior hurdler, a Samford University commit, went into the 7A state championship track meet as the odds-on favorite to repeat as both the 110- and 300-meter hurdle races after winning them both as a junior, and was considered one of the front-runners to win the 100-meter dash as well. Tait’s 30-point performance made him the single-highest scoring athlete at any of the state championship track meets that took place over the weekend.

In the 100-meter dash Tait was seeded second coming out of the preliminary heats. He ran a 10.89 second qualifying time, which was the same qualifying time run by Deonte Tolbert of Auburn, but Tolbert had a headwind clocked at 4.2 miles per hour in his heat, while Tait ran with a headwind clocked at 2.2 miles per hour in his, which gave Tolbert the No. 1 seed headed into the finals. In the finals however it was not Tolbert who Tait had to hold off, but rather AJ Harris of Bob Jones. Tait ran a 10.93 in the finals with a 1.6 mile per hour headwind, besting Harris by the slimmest of margins, 0.04 seconds, to claim the 100-meter dash title.

Tait broke his own record in the 7A 110-meter hurdles twice. Last year at the state championship meet, Tait ran the 110’s in 14.12 seconds, which set the state record at the time because last season was the first season of 7A competition. This year in the preliminary heat, Tait ran an incendiary 13.90, blowing past his old record. In the finals Tait was slightly slower, finishing in 14.00 seconds, still faster than his previous years’ time, and beat Triaon Poellnitz of Auburn by 0.74 seconds, which is a lifetime in the 110’s.

Tait had also set the 300-meter hurdle record a season ago as a junior with a time of 38.83, and broke his own record in that event as well. He had to hold off Poellnitz again as well as Marion Humphrey of Hoover, both of whom also broke 38.83, but Tait ran a 37.90, beating Poellnitz by 0.37 seconds to win his third individual title of the meet.

Thompson finished the meet with 32 points, 30 of which came from Tait. The other two points the Warriors scored came from Craig Clark, who finished eighth in the 110-meter hurdles and scored a point and the 4×400-meter relay, which finished eighth and scored a point as well.