Pelham, Helena have strong showing at state meet

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

GULF SHORES – Pelham and Helena both had two of the better track and field seasons of any school in Shelby County and it came to a close in stellar fashion when the two traveled to Gulf Shores for the 2018 AHSAA State Track and Field Championships May 3-5.

Both teams had strong chances to have both their boys and girls finish top five in the overall team standings, and weren’t too far off that mark, while several individuals won state championships or had podium finishes. Also of note is Chelsea’s Teanna Cason, who finished in sixth in the 3,200-meter run as just a sophomore. A recap from the event is below.

Pelham 

While Pelham’s girls had as strong a chance as anybody in the state to bring home a state championship, they fell just short of that goal finishing in second in the overall team standings. The boys also had one of their most solid performances of the season and took sixth in the overall team standings.

For the girls, Katie Strozier was a key contributor in the team finishing as runner-up. She took home an individual state championship in the 800-meter run, winning by eight seconds over teammate Alex Wilkins in second.

Strozier went on to finish on the podium in the 1,600-meter run with a second-place finish. She just missed out on a third podium finish in the 400-meter dash finishing in fourth.

As a team, the girls got a strong performance in the 4X800-meter relay finishing in second just behind Fort Payne, who ran the race in 9:50.58 as the only sub-10-minute team.

The Panthers also had an impressive showing in several other events that didn’t feature running.

Erin Long and Emorie Long continued a sisterly battle in the javelin throw finishing first and second as they seemingly do in every event. Erin took home first, while sister Emorie finished in second.

Erin won with a distance of 133 feet 3 inches, while Emorie had a distance of 130 feet 7 inches.

In the high jump finals, Erin picked up another podium finish grabbing third in the event, while she just missed out another podium finish in the long jump where she took home fifth. Her event was capped off with a sixth-place finish in the triple jump.

Sarah Guthrie and Ayala Seaborn added two more highlights for the girls team. Gutrhie finished fifth in the pole vault finals, while Seaborn finished sixth in the shot put finals and ninth in the discus finals.

For the boys’ team, Donovan Ross and Adam Keller were two of the bigger highlights as they have been most of the season.

Ross was able to pick up a finish of fourth in the 100-meter dash finishing with a time of 10.85 seconds, which was 0.08 off of a podium finish.

While the shorter of the distance runs wasn’t Keller’s best, he was still able to finish in seventh in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:01.36, but it only got better the further he ran.

In the 1,600-meter race he finished second behind Homewood’s Will Stone, and then followed that up with another second-place finish in the 3,200-meter race to give him two podium finishes.

Dorian Tolbert also had a top-three finish for the Panthers taking third in the discus finals.

Helena

Helena’s boys were able to close out the season with a finish of seventh in the overall team standings thanks to several strong individual athletes, while the girls finished in 15th in the team standings.

One of the strongest events for the Huskies came in the high jump finals as senior Justin Stuckey was able to close out his career with a state championship thanks to a height of 6 feet 10 inches. He finished 2 inches ahead of teammate Jonah Hyde in second place.

Blake Vaughn also had a few strong distance races for Helena finishing fifth in the 3,200-meter run, sixth in the 1,600-meter run and eighth in the 800-meter run.

The last of the boys highlights came from Jake Knight, who finished seventh in the pole vault finals.

For the girls, Kirsen Gardner continued to be the leader thanks to two second place finishes. While she didn’t come away with a state championship this season, Gardner took home second in the shot put and discus finals to pick up two podium finishes.

Allison Tanner also added a strong finish for the Huskies thanks to her fifth-place finish in the high jump event.