Pelham, Helena, Chelsea shine at Indoor State Meet

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – What has been an impressive season for several different local runners in the 6A classification finally came to an end over the weekend of Feb. 2 as Chelsea, Helena and Pelham all converged at the Birmingham CrossPlex to compete in the 2018 State Indoor Track and Field Championships.

Combined between the boys and girls events, the three teams had three individual state champions, 40 top 10 finishes and 20 top five finishes.

The most dominant season from a team point of view came from the Pelham Panthers’ girls team and they didn’t disappoint at the state championship finishing in second place behind the Homewood Patriots.

Helena’s girls were a few spots down in eighth place, while Chelsea’s girls took home 15th thanks in large part to Teanna Cason.

Individually is where most of the highlights came and it starts with the Panthers as they had one state champion, eight top five finishes and 14 top 10 finishes.

Katie Strozier and Erin Long had two of the strongest performances from any county athlete boys or girls and it starts with Strozier’s state championship.

The junior won the 800-meter race with a time of 2:16 on the nose and also had two other top three finishes. Strozier finished second in the 1,600-meter run and third in the 400-meter dash to conclude or championship run.

Sarah Guthrie was another Pelham runner with three top 10 finishes for the meet. She finished fourth in the pole vault finals, sixth in the long jump finals and seventh in the high jump finals.

Long had three top six finishes at the meet with her highest finish of third coming in the long jump finals. She also finished fifth in the high jump and sixth in the triple jump.

Juniors Meredith Bass and Alex Wilkins had several top 10 finishes as well.

Bass finished sixth in the 3,200-meter run and eighth in the 1,600-meter run, while Wilkins finished in eighth in the triple jump finals and sixth in the 800-meter run.

As a team, the Panthers finished second in the 4X800-meter relay and fifth in both the 4X200-meter relay and 4X400-meter relay.

Helena’s girls also had a nice showing at the event, especially Kirsen Gardner.

The junior was able to repeat as the girls shot put state champion thanks to a distance of 37 feet, 6.25 inches.

Outside of that, Abigail Ford and Allison Tanner both had three top 10 finishes at the event.

Ford finished in seventh in the 1,600-meter race, eighth in the 3,200-meter race and ninth in the 800-meter run finals.

Tanner had the second highest finish of any Helena athlete by finishing in second in the high jump finals. She also finished in ninth in the triple jump finals and 10th in the long jump finals.

Outside of that, Ana Waters and Erin Fuller had top 10 finishes as well. Fuller finished fifth in the shot put finals, while Waters finished ninth in the 3,200-meter run.

As a team, the Huskies finished sixth in the 4X800-meter relay.

All of Chelsea’s highlights came from Teanna Cason as the sophomore finished seventh in the 3,200-meter run and 10th in the 1,600-meter run to cap off her strong indoor season.

Jumping over to the boys’ results from the event, Helena had the best overall performance as they finished in sixth in the team standings.

That strong showing to close out the season was due to some strong results from state champion Jonah Hyde, as well as Blake Vaughn, Jordan Wallace and T.J. Funches.

Hyde won his state championship in the high jump finals with a distance of 6 feet, 9 inches. He outpaced Seth Williams from Paul W. Bryant High School by 5 inches.

Consistency wise, Vaughn was the Huskies’ biggest highlight. The senior finished inside the top three in two different events by taking second in the 800-meter run and third in the 1,600-meter run, while also finishing eighth in the 3,200-meter run.

Wallace added two more top 10 finishes for the Huskies by taking home fifth in the triple jump and ninth in the long jump finals.

Funches was the last Helena athlete to finish inside the top 10 as the sophomore finished eighth in the high jump finals.   

From a seam standpoint, the Huskies were able to take home fifth in the 4X800-meter relay.

In that same relay race, the Pelham Panthers finished in third to just edge out Helena.

Individually, the Panthers were led by Adam Keller with three top 10 finishes. The junior finished third in the 3,200-meter run, fifth in the 1,600-meter run and eighth in the 800-meter run.

Outside of him, Dorian Tolbert grabbed eighth in the shot put finals to cap off a strong showing by county athletes.