Spain Park’s Culpepper, others highlight 7A state meet

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – Entering this year’s AHSAA Class 7A Indoor State Track and Field meet, Spain Park’s Mackenzie Culpepper had finished second in both of her 400-meter dash races this season.

But on Saturday, Feb. 6, the junior for the Jaguars saved her best performance for last when she took to the track with a state title on the line.

Culpepper went on to put together a personal-record time of 57.25 seconds to edge out Hewitt-Trussville’s Kelsey Martin, who finished second with a time of 57.30 seconds.

In the Magic City Invitational and Ice Breaker, she ran the same event in times of 58.48 and 57.59, respectively, to finish second both times.

But this time around, she put together her fastest time of the season and it paid off with a state championship.

In addition to the first-place finish, Culpepper also finished second in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:13.45. She had finished first in her three previous 800-meter runs this season, but not even her personal-record time was enough to win after Vestavia Hills’ Crawford West finished slightly ahead with a time of 2:12.93.

That was part of an impressive day for Culpeper, which was also a factor in helping Spain Park have a total of five podium finishes in the event.

Aside from her strong performances, the Jags also got second place finishes from Keon Buck and Anna Collins.

Buck finished second in the 60-meter dash after putting together a new personal record of his own with a time of 6.96 seconds, which was slightly behind Hewitt-Trussville’s Armoni Goodwin.

Collins was also in a tight battle in the pole vault finals, but ended up finishing second after clearing a height of 11 feet, 6 inches, while Fairhope’s Holly Foley finished first with a height of 12 feet, 3 inches.

As a team, the Jags added their final podium finish in the 4X400-meter relay with a time of 4:12.44, which beat out Bob Jones for third by more than three seconds.

Thompson and Oak Mountain both had impressive events as well with the Warriors posting four podium finishes and Oak Mountain one podium finish.

Dominique Hall, who has been a highlight for the Warriors for quite some time, closed out his Thompson days with two second place finishes.

He claimed second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 49.99 seconds, which was just off the state championship pace set by Central-Phenix City’s Antonio Crisco.

Hall also claimed second in the pole vault finals after narrowly missing out on another state title.

He cleared a height of 15 feet, along with his teammate Blake Ellis, as the two finished in a tie. They finished behind Hoover’s Levi Arroyo, who was the only one to clear 15 feet, 6 inches.

Jared Hurst, another senior, also grabbed the second spot on the podium in the high jump. Like the other two Thompson athletes, Hurst just missed out on a title after clearing a height of 6 feet, 6 inches, just slightly behind Malik Johnson’s height of 6 feet, 8 inches.

Oak Mountain’s lone finish on the podium came from the 4X400-meter relay team, which posted a time of 3:29.01 to finish third behind Vestavia Hills in first and Hoover in second.

The Eagles also had finishes of fourth place from Michael Marvin and Hunter Wright to just miss out on two more podium finishers. Marvin finished fourth in the 800-meter run with a time of 1:56.11, while Wright finished fourth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:27.24.

Photos available at Shelbycountyphotos.com.