Track team and wrestlers honored at Pelham BOE meeting

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

PELHAM – The winter sports season came to a strong close for several teams, including the track and field teams, the wrestling team and the boys and girls basketball teams.

On Monday, Feb. 24, a couple of those teams were honored for bringing home trophies following the 2019-20 winter sports season at the Pelham Board of Education meeting.

Honorees included the Pelham girls track and field team for its runner-up finish at the Class 6A Indoor State Meet, several individual track and field athletes and two members of the wrestling team who also took home a runner-up finish.

For the girls track and field team, it marked their eighth runner-up finish and second in a row.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for any group, but especially this one,” head coach Marty Springfield said. “We were runners up last year of course, but we graduated more than 60 percent of our points, which is a lot. So to be able to come back after losing as much as we did last year was a great accomplishment.”

Pelham, who also has a state championship in a dominant span over the last 10 years, was in danger of not even finishing in the top three at the meet. But the Panthers put together a special comeback in the final event to not only find the podium, but second place.

“This is the first time since we won our state championship that we weren’t locked into first or second,” Springfield said. “We were one of five teams that went into to the day with a chance at second. We were no higher than fourth until the last event. We were two points behind one team, five behind another. We essentially had to win that last event and hope for things to fall in place and they did.”

That event the Panthers entered needing a win was the 4X400-meter relay team. They trailed early in the event, but were able to come back in the final leg to cement the finish of second.

In addition to that strong showing, Erin Long finished second in the triple jump and third in the long jump, while Adia Hasty finished third in the shot put.

For the boys, Dominic Fanella claimed a finish of third in the 800-meter run and was also honored at the meeting.

The two wrestlers honored at the BOE meeting were Bryce Wanagat and Seth Branham. Wanagat, a sophomore, and Branham, a freshman, made successful runs despite both being underclassmen as each finished second in their respective weight class.

“We had five state qualifiers, but these guys made it all the way to the championship match,” Bill Strickland said. “Both are second in the entire state of Alabama in the 6A classification and should be very proud of their accomplishments. They have extremely bright futures.”

Branham had eight losses this year, but seven of those eight came to other state champions, while Wanagat had three of his four losses come against state champions as well.

In addition to that, Strickland mentioned other state qualifiers that had a special season including Jackson Ingram, Robert Terry and eighth grader Walt Calvert.