Culpepper, Hammett highlight Class 7A state track meet

Published 4:08 pm Sunday, February 6, 2022

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – The indoor track and field season came to an end for local Class 7A teams on Saturday, Feb. 5 inside the Birmingham Crossplex, but not before state champions were crowned.

Competing in the AHSAA Class 7A Indoor State Track and Field Meet, Spain Park, Oak Mountain and Thompson all put together impressive performances featuring two individual state champions, several podium finishers and a plethora of top-five finishes.

Spain Park’s girls were the highlight of the event, finishing fourth in the team standings with 38 points., while Hoover won with 119 points. Hewitt-Trussville took second with 76.33 points, while Vestavia Hills finished just behind in third with 72 points.

The Jags were highlighted by Mackenzie Culpepper, who won a state championship and notched two other podium finishes.

In the 800-meter run, an event she had won all season, Culpepper was looking for revenge. Last year, she won each indoor 800-meter run but finished second in the state championship. During the outdoor story, it was a similar story with five wins and a second-place finish before finishing fourth at the state meet.

This year, however, there was no heartache at the end of the night.

Culpepper put together a speedy time of 2:13.40, just off a personal record set in her last race, to claim the state championship in the event after beating out Hoover’s McKenzie Blackledge with a time of 2:14.15.

Culpepper added another podium finish in the 400-meter dash, just missing out on two state championships. She finished with a time of 56.79 seconds, which was just behind Hoover’s Daisy Luna with a time of 56.26 seconds, giving Culpepper a finish of second.

She was also one of four runners on the 4X400-meter relay team that finished second to Hoover. With a time of 4:04.95, the Jags finished four seconds behind to grab the silver medal.

For the girls, Delaney Vickers also added a couple of top-five finishes. Another member of the relay team, she also finished fourth in the 400-meter dash behind Culpepper and fifth in the 800-meter dash. Vickers put together times of 58.37 seconds and 2:16.72, respectively.

Spain Park’s boys had one podium finish and two top-five finishes.

John Landers earned a spot on the podium for the Jags by finishing third in the pole vault after clearing 15 feet. He actually ended up in a three-way tie with Carter Ellis and Collin Pate of Hoover, but couldn’t clear 15 feet, 3 inches, which led to the two Hoover pole vaulters taking the top two spots.

Kenneth Bishop added a top-five finish for the Jaguars, coming in fifth in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:47.04.

Oak Mountain only had one podium finisher at the 7A state meet, but that one podium finisher took the top spot.

Competing in the high jump, Ethan Hammett took the title after clearing 6 feet, 4 inches on his first attempt. Second and third place also cleared the height, but didn’t do it until their second attempt.

Hammett had finished third in every event this season, but matching his personal record at the state meet helped him claim the win.

Other top-five finishes for the Eagles included Mitch Allen and the 4X800-meter relay team.

Allen took fourth in the triple jump with a distance of 44 feet, 6.5 inches, while the relay team finished fourth with a time of 8:14.46.

The Thompson Warriors had one podium finisher at the meet, while six others just missed out by finishing inside the top six of their respective events.

The highlight was Akasha Dudley, who had been dominant in the shot put all season.

In the state championship, she finished third in the event with a distance of 34 feet, 10 inches. She finished behind Hewitt-Trussville’s Madisyn Hawkins and Phoebe Greene who hit the 37-foot mark.

She was the highlight for the girls, while the 4X200-meter relay team finished fourth with a time of 4:08.50 to add another top-five finish.

The boys didn’t have a podium finisher, but they did have five finish inside the top six.

Jackson Hamlin and the 4X400-meter relay team had the highest finishes in fourth.

Hamlin did so in the 3,200-meter run with a time of 9:46.39, while the relay team finished with a time of 3:30.76.

The Warriors got finishes of fifth from Bradley Franklin and Gavin Horton in their respective events as well.

Franklin did so in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 8.57 seconds, while Horton did so in the pole vault after clearing 13 feet.

The 4X200-meter relay team also just missed out on a top-five finish by claiming sixth behind a time of 1:32.60.