Thompson boys finish 2nd, others 7A athletes perform well at state

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – Jace Jones already had done enough to accomplish a great career for the Thompson Warriors in both track and field and cross country, but the one thing he was missing was a track and field state championship.

That all changed when the senior, who is heading to Alabama to join the Crimson Tide’s running program next year, won two state championships at the 2020 Class 7A Indoor State Track and Field Championships held at the Birmingham CrossPlex Feb. 7-8.

But he didn’t just win, he did so in record fashion. His first state championship came in the 3,200-meter run where he finished in a new state-record time of 9:22.73.

He then went on to win the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:21.63, before finishing just short of completing the distance-run trifecta in the 800-meter run where he finished second with a time of 1:57.07.

His performance was a major reason the Thompson boys were able to post 89 points and finish runner-up as a team, while the Warriors’ girls went on to finish sixth in the team standings.

In addition to Thompson’s strong performances, Oak Mountain and Spain Park also had several noteworthy performances. In the team standings, Spain Park’s girls finished 10th, while Oak Mountain’s boys finished fourth and girls 14th.

Behind Jones for Thompson’s boys, the Warriors had strong individual performances from six other athletes.

Dominique Hall was one of those, as he claimed another state championship for Thompson thanks to winning the pole vault event with a height of 14 feet, 3 inches. More impressive, the Warriors claimed the top two spots in the event, as Blake Ellis finished second with a height of 14 feet.

Jared Hurst went on to add a second-place finish for the Warriors thanks to a height of 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump. Steve Villegas and Julian Woods added finishes of third in the shot put and triple jump, respectively. Villegas finished with a distance of 50 feet, 4 inches in the shot put, while Woods finished with a distance of 46 feet, 5.75 inches in the triple jump.

Sam Reynolds added a fourth-place finish for the boys in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.95 seconds. The 4X200-meter relay team also performed well with a finish of third behind a time of 1:30.92.

For the girls, the 4X200-meter relay team claimed a state championship with a time of 1:43.83, while the 4X400-meter team finished third with a time of 4:04.46.

ZaKiria Holifield was an individual highlight for the girls after finishing second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 57.43 seconds and third in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.92 seconds. She also finished first in the prelims of the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.87.

The Oak Mountain Eagles and Spain Park Jaguars also combined for seven impressive finishes at the event.

The Eagles were led by Harrison Dimick, who won the state championship in the shot put with a distance of 56 feet, 7 inches.

Beyond that, Walker Cole and Evie Bell both performed well in distance runs. Cole finished second in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:24.73, which was two seconds out of a record-setting first place finish from Jones.

Cole also finished third in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:27.79. Bell also claimed a podium finish by finishing third in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 11:18.22.

Aaron Brooks added a fourth-place finish for Oak Mountain in the 400-meter dash behind a time of 50.97 seconds.

Spain Park got podium finishes from Mackenzie Culpepper and Anna Collins, both of whom finished third in their respective events. Culpepper finished third in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:19.00, while Collins finished third in the pole vault after clearing a height of 11 feet.

Sydney Taylor added a finish of fourth for the Jags in the 60-meter dash with a time of 7.95 seconds after finishing third in the prelims.