Thompson, Oak Mountain, Spain Park perform well at state

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

BIRMINGHAM – Thompson’s running programs flashed their impressive talent during the fall in the sport of cross country, but they have recently flourished during the indoor track and field season and looked to cap off the winter sport at the 2018 AHSAA Indoor Track and Field State Championships held at the Birmingham CrossPlex on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 2-3.

Both the boys and girls featured one athlete that was able to bring home at least one individual state championship, which led to a strong showing in the overall team standings as well.

The Thompson boys were able to finish fourth in the team standings, while the girls were just one spot lower in fifth. Outside of Thompson, the other two teams in 7A were also competing at the event.

The Oak Mountain Eagles’ girls were able to finish in 12th, while the boys took home 14th. Spain Park was only able to qualify a full team in the boys’ meet and they finished in 17th overall.

Starting with the girls’ events, McKenzie Hogue continued to be one of the state’s most dominant runners throughout the 2017-18 running season.

Hogue ended up taking home two individual state titles after winning the 1,600-meter finals with a time of 5:03.81 and the 3,200-meter finals with a time of 10:59.46.

She also finished fourth in the 800-meter run finals and was just five seconds from winning a state championship in a all three events she competed in.

London Wooley, Zakira Holifield, Ebony Butler and Elizabeth Sutton were the three other Thompson girls runners to finish inside the top 10 in an event.

Wooley, a sophomore, was the highest of those three taking home second in the high jump finals.

Holifield’s impressive performance featured a sixth-place finish in the 60-meter dash with a time of 8.02.

The lone senior of the group was Butler and she was able to grab a fourth-place finish in the shot put finals.

Sutton, another sophomore, finished in 10th in the pole vault finals to cap off strong individual performances from the Thompson girls.

As a team, the Warriors finished ninth in the 4X200-meter relay, eighth in the 4X400-meter relay and 11th in the 4X800-meter relay.

Oak Mountain had an impressive highlight from Nicole Payne, who has become one of the fastest runners in the state and the country. She finished third in the 60-meter dash finals with a time of 7.74, which was less than 0.10 behind the winning time in a photo finish.

The Eagles also finished sixth in the 4X200-meter relay as a team.

Spain Park’s lone highlight for the girls’ team also came in a relay race as the Jaguars finished ninth in the 4X800-meter relay.

As impressive as the Thompson girls were, the boys came out with a purpose in the state meet. The Warriors were able to post 11 top 10 finishes, six top five finishes and one state championship in several different boys’ events.

Viktor Turek was the lone state champion after the senior was able to throw for a distance of 49 feet, 2.5 inches in the shot put finals to bring home the title.

Behind him, it was an array of eight different athletes that had strong performances.

The next two highest finishes came from Jace Jones and Samuel Holmes, both of who finished fifth in their respective events.

Jones, a sophomore, finished fifth in the 1,600-meter run, while Holmes, a senior, finished fifth in the 400-meter dash.

In that same 400-meter dash event, Alondae Vassar flashed his speed as the senior ran the race in 51.89 seconds to finish just a few spots lower in seventh.

Steve Villegas and Jared Hurst both picked up sixth place finishes for the Warriors in their events. Villegas, a sophomore, grabbed sixth in the shot put finals, while Hurst, a freshman, was sixth in the high jump finals.

Just behind Hurst in the high jump was teammate Phillip Lewis, who took home seventh in the event.

Dominque Hall, a freshman, and Ozzy Heller, a sophomore, both had nice finishes in the pole vault finals. The two both scored a height of 11 feet, which was good enough for a tie for 10th in the event.

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

For the Spain Park boys, it was Matthew Gray who had the highest finish. Gray, a junior for the Jaguars, finished seventh in the shot put finals.

Will McCrite was the only other top 10 finisher for the Jags as he took home ninth in the triple jump finals.

Oak Mountain’s only top 10 finish in the boys’ events was from Trey Allen who took home an impressive finish of third in the high jump finals.