Hines, Payne highlight Milesplit team

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

The 2016 outdoor track and field season was a success across all of Shelby County, as athletes from a number of county schools posted some of the fastest times across the state in a number of events. Recently, Alabamarunners.com came out with its 2016 All-Milesplit Alabama Girls Outdoor Track & Field Team, and a number of girls from across Shelby County made the cut.

Oak Mountain’s Nicole Payne came in as the Second Team representative in the 400-meter dash, finishing behind Smith Station’s Myra Mack. Payne, who is a soccer player by trade and dabbles in track and field whenever she can, only ran one 400-meter dash this outdoor season, but made it count. Her time of 56.33 at the Spain Park Classic on April 9 was good for first place at that meet, and was the third-fastest time run in the state this season. Payne is entering into her sophomore year at Oak Mountain this fall, and the youngster is one of the top female athletes in Alabama.

Pelham had three girls make the All-Milesplit team in Erin Hines, Emily Shaw and Mary Grace Strozier. Hines, who competed in a number of events for Pelham in her senior season and was one of the most successful heptathletes in state history, came in as the top long jumper in the state. She finished fourth in the New Balance Outdoor Nationals in the long jump in June, but jumped a 19-1.25 at the 6A Section 2 meet back in April, which puts her at the top of this list ahead of Elysa Griffin of Homewood and Kaylie Wright of Muscle Shoals.

Shaw placed eighth in the 6A state meet this year in the high jump with a jump of five feet, but her mark of 5-feet-7-inches at the Shelby County Championships on April 18 was the top jump in the state for the year, and is the reason she finished as the First Team high jumper on the All-Milesplit team, beating both Harmony Stephens of Smiths Station and Caroline Lawrence of Homewood.

Strozier finished her Pelham career as one of the most decorated middle-to-long distance track runners in Pelham’s history. In her senior season, she won the 3,200-meter run at the 6A state meet with a time of 11.20.98, placed second in the 1,600-meter run and placed fourth in the 800-meter run at the state meet as well. She is another athlete who could have made the All-Milesplit team in a number of slots, but each athlete could only make the list in one event, and as a result Strozier finished as the Third Team selection in the 1,600-meter run, behind Francis Patrick of Mountain Brook and Grace Jensen of McGill-Toolen.