Oak Mountain, Spain Park, Thompson have several podium finishers at state meet

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

GULF SHORES – With all three teams posting top 10 finishes in both the boys and girls standings at the 2019 AHSAA Outdoor State Track and Field Championship, Oak Mountain, Spain Park and Thompson all left their mark on a special event.

With the Eagles posing eight podium finishes and five state champions, Spain Park posting four podium finishes and one state champion, and the Warriors posting 10 podium finishes, each made an impressive statement to close out their 2019 seasons.

The highest team finish came from the Thompson girls in fifth, while Oak Mountain and Spain Park finished eighth and 10th, respectively, in the girls’ standings. In the boys’ standings, Thompson also led the way finishing eighth, while Oak Mountain finished in a tie for eighth with the Warriors, and Spain Park finished one point behind in 10th.

Oak Mountain’s five state champions at the event was the highlight of the meet for local teams, and Nicole Payne was the brightest star of them all.

The senior went on to claim three state championships, winning the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash and 400-meter dash. After winning those three events on Saturday, May 4, she immediately left to attend Oak Mountain’s girls soccer quarterfinal matchup with Vestavia Hills, and while the Eagles lost 1-0 in double overtime, it showed her athletic prowess as a key contributor on two different teams.

Payne’s three state championships were accomplished in remarkable time. She won the 100-meter dash in 11.82 seconds, the 200-meter dash in 23.74 seconds and the 400-meter dash in 53.55 seconds.

Two of those times were new state records, as she beat her previous record of 54.04 in the 400-meter dash, and topped Lauryn Hall’s time of 23.98 in the 200-meter dash.

She was joined by teammates Harrison Dimick and Trey Allen with state championships as well.

Dimick, who finished second in the shot put, claimed the title in the discus throw with a distance of 181 feet, 3 inches. That also set a new state record as he bested the 178 feet, 0.5 inch mark set by Thompson’s Viktor Turek.

Allen also had an impressive showing in his state-championship victory. In the high jump, he cleared a height of 6 feet, 8 inches, and attempted to set the state record of 6 feet, 10.25 inches, but came up just short of that mark.

Other podium finishes for the Eagles included Aaron brooks and the 4X400-meter relay team. Brooks finished third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.83 seconds, while the relay team finished second with a time of 4:00.17.

Spain Park’s lone state champion came in the shot put finals thanks to Matthew Gray’s distance of 58 feet, 8 inches. That mark finished just shy of the state record of 59 feet, 0.5 inches set by Vestavia’s Walter Thomas in 2016.

Steven Pate had a strong showing as well with his finish of third in the discus throw thanks to a distance of 157 feet, 5 inches.

Teammate Josh Wallace also grabbed a third-place finish in the javelin throw with a distance of 186 feet, 9 inches.

For the girls, Sydney Taylor closed out a strong meet for the Jaguars with her finish of third in the 100-meter dash. She finished the event in 12.08 seconds.

Kameron McDaniel also had an impressive showing for the Jags, as he finished fifth in the 100-meter dash and eighth in the 200-meter dash. In the prelims of both, he finished second and third, respectively.

While Thompson didn’t end the season with any individual state championships or a team title, the Warriors were close in so many events and with the most athletes from any school in the county qualifying for the event, they also had the most podium finishes of any team from the county, while also placing several athletes in the top five.

Jace Jones claimed fourth in both the 3,200-meter run and 1,600-meter run, while Sam Reynolds finished fourth in the 100-meter dash. Also in the top five were Steve Villegas with a finish of fifth in the shot put and London Wooley in the 300 meter hurdles.

There were several, however, that did crack the top three to finish on the podium.

The boys were highlighted by Jared Hurst in the high jump, who finished in a tie for second with a height of 6 feet, 6 inches; Blake Ellis in the pole vault finals, who finished in a tie for second with a height of 14 feet; and their 4X100-meter relay team, which finished third with a time of 42.13 seconds.

The girls’ impressive fifth-place finish in the team standings was highlighted by seven podium finishes.

McKenzie Hogue closed out her Thompson career with three of those podium finishes, claiming second in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter races, and third in the 800-meter run.

She finished the 1,600-meter race in 4:58.58, the 3,200-meter run in 10:43.67, and the 800-meter run in 2:16.15. In the 3,200-meter race, she actually broke the old state record with her time, but that state record was set by Samantha Rogers of Auburn, and Rogers was the one who beat her out in the event to break her record with a new mark of 10:37.67.

Thompson’s 4X400-meter relay team featuring Jill Douglas, Alayah King, ZaKiria Holifield and London Wooley, also claimed a podium finish of third with a time of 4:01.34.

Zoria Miller and Niya Oden added the other three podium finishes for the Warriors with Miller claiming two of the three.

Miller’s strong meet was highlighted by third place finishes in the discus throw and shot put. In the discus, she posted a total of 114 feet, 11 inches, and in the shot put, she posted a distance of 40 feet, 0.75 inches.

Oden’s finish of second in the triple jump was thanks to a distance of 38 feet, 2.25 inches, which ended up setting a new school record in the event.