Several local 6A athletes headed to state meet
By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor
It’s been a state championship type of season for several track and field athletes at Helena and Pelham, as well as Chelsea’s Teanna Cason, and during their respective sectional meets, none disappointed as they sealed spots at the state championship meet Thursday through Saturday, May 3-5. A recap from each team’s performance at sectionals is below.
Blake Vaughn will get to close out his senior season with a trip to the state championship meet after automatically qualifying for a spot in the 1,600-meter run with a finish of third and the 3,200-meter run with a finish of third, and picking up a wildcard spot in the 800-meter run where he finished in sixth.
In the 3,200-meter race, Vaughn will be joined by sophomore Talon Pritchard, who qualified with a wildcard finish of seventh in the event.
Christian Hill and Jordan Wallace both had strong performances in the hurdle events. Hill finished fifth in the 110-meter hurdles, while Wallace finished fifth in the 300-meter hurdles, as each got an automatic qualifying spot on the number.
Wallace also had an impressive showing in the triple jump, where he won the sectional title with a distance of 44 feet 7 inches. Jonah Hyde also qualified in the event after finishing in seventh with a distance of 41 feet 11 inches.
One of the strongest events for the Huskies came in the boys high jump finals where Hyde, Justin Stuckey and T.J. Funches all qualified. Hyde and Stuckey finished third and fourth, respectively, to automatically qualify, while Funches finished sixth to grab a wildcard spot.
Jake Knight and Bay Marks were the final two boys’ athletes to clinch a spot at the state meet. Knight finished fifth in the pole vault finals, while Marks was fourth in the javelin throw.
Despite finishing ninth among the 200-meter dash contestants in her sectional, eight grader Brooklynn Kirksey qualified for a spot at state as she was the final of four wildcards to qualify with no other section able to beat her time of 26.66.
That started the girls’ qualifiers off with some excitement, and it was one of just two events for Kirksey to qualify in as she also finished fifth in the 400-meter dash.
Abigail Ford also qualified in two separate events, as she finished fifth in the 1,600-meter race and fourth in the 3,200-meter run. Ana Waters also advanced to state with a wildcard finish of seventh in the 3,200-meter run, which was the third fastest of the four wildcard runners to advance.
While that was exciting enough for Helena, Allison Tanner and Kirsen Gardner both won their individual events. Tanner finished first in the high jump, while Gardner finished first in the discus throw.
Tanner also finished fifth in the triple jump to advance in two different events. Victoria Brown finished just three spots behind Gardner in the discus throw, as she took fourth to advance to the state meet as well.
Helena’s final event to see anyone qualify for state was the shot put finals, where Gardner finished second and Erin Fuller finished fourth to both automatically qualify.
As a team, the girls relay qualified its 4X100-meter team and its 4X800-meter team after finishes of fifth and fourth, respectively. The boys had their 4X800-meter team qualify as well after finishing in seventh with a time of 8:43.38, which was good enough for a wildcard spot.
Donovan Ross finished fourth in the 100-meter dash to qualify automatically, and then finished sixth in the 200-meter dash to qualify as a wildcard.
Adam Keller had one of the strongest showings of any athlete at the sectional meet, as he finished second in the 800-meter run, the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run to qualify for a spot at the state meet in each event.
While Keller’s finishes were strong, Dorian Tolbert was the only boys athlete for Pelham to finish first. He took the top spot in the discus throw to easily qualify for state.
In one of the closer state qualifying competitions, Elijah Shoemaker was also able to qualify in the discus throw after taking the fourth of four wildcard spots.
Mason Goolsby qualified by finishing second in the high jump.
The girls team has been dominant for Pelham all season and continued to show why at the sectional meet starting in the 800-meter run where Katie Strozier, Alex Wilkins and Madilyn Dubose all finished in the top three to sweep the podium.
Strozier went on to finish first in the 1,600-meter run and second in the 400-meter dash as well, while Wilkins finished second to Strozier again in the 1,600-meter run. Meredith Bass also qualified for a spot at state in the 1,600-meter run after finishing fifth in the event.
Bass also went on to claim the second-place spot in the 3,200-meter run to qualify in two different events.
In the 300-meter hurdles, the Panthers saw two more athletes qualify for state, as Anna Wilkes, a sophomore, and Zhaniyah Rudolph, a freshman, finished third and fifth, respectively.
When it came to the field events, several of Pelham’s usuals stood out as they have throughout the season.
In the high jump, Erin Long and Dunia Perez both qualified for a spot after finishing second and fourth, respectively.
Long qualified for her second event after finishing third in the long jump, which was one spot behind Sarah Guthrie who also qualified.
In the javelin throw, both Long sisters qualified for state to cap off an incredible year by both, as they tend to be one and two in the event more times than not. Erin finished first in the event, while Emorie Long finished one spot behind in second.
Ayala Seaborn closed out the strong event for Pelham after qualifying in shot with a finish of third.
The boys 4X800-meter relay team finished sixth and picked up a wildcard spot.
The girls 4X100-meter relay, 4X400-meter relay and 4X800-meter relay all qualified for state as well, while the 4X800-meter team was the only one to win in the sectional meet.
Chelsea’s Teanna Cason continued her incredible run as a sophomore and qualified in the 800-meter run, the 1,600-meter run and 3,200-meter run, winning the 3,200-meter race.
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