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Friday-Saturday, May 7-9, 2009 - Gulf Shores AL
DyeStat onsite with Arthur Mack

4A5A6A - Day 2: Tisher leads record barrage

Neal Tisher leads St. Paul's girls to fourth straight 5A crown; Hoover boys (Patrick McGregor triple), Mountain Brook girls again rule 6A; UMS-Wright (Robert Willett triple for boys) sweeps 4A titles


GULF SHORES, Saturday, May 9—The final day of the 4A-5A-6A competition in the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s outdoor track and field championships was a dream come true for the sport’s biggest fans.

Eight state meet records were broken and another one tied on this day, and when it was all said and done, the southwest part of the state walked away with four titles—the most in more than 20 years.

Hoover and Mountain Brook once again ruled 6A, as Hoover’s boys, paced by Patrick McGregor’s three individual wins, and Mountain Brook’s girls, despite being hampered by injuries and illness, took home individual titles.

Meanwhile, in 5A, Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcopal, led by star Neal Tisher, held off upstate archrival Scottsboro to win the girls’ title for a fourth straight year, while Spanish Fort, despite being in existence only four years, won the boys crown.

A drop in classification did Mobile’s UMS-Wright good, as its boys and girls dethroned defending champion Guntersville to take the 4A titles.

Here’s the recap:

6A: It was a foregone conclusion that Hoover would win the 6A boys crown—after all, the Bucs were loaded from top to bottom in the sprints, field events, and distances. Hoover certainly didn’t disappoint its fans, trouncing Auburn 152-70, with Opelika (78), Mobile Murphy (60), and Vestavia Hills (53) rounding out the top five.

“This is a sweet win,” said Bucs coach Devon Hind. “After coming up short last year, that’s all we talked about. I knew we were good, and it’s been a great year. We’re losing a lot of seniors, but we’re going to reload.”

“I don’t know how the rest of the state feels about us, but when you scored as many points as we did, not many teams can say that,” McGregor said. “We’re very humbled by the win, and after coming up short last year, that’s all we talked about.”

Hoover got three big wins from McGregor in the 800 (1:54.88), the 1,600 (4:18.47), and the 3,200 (9:23.88). The 3,200 was all the more impressive considering the race was run in 87-degree heat.

It didn’t bother McGregor, though.

“You can’t control the temperature,” he said. “It didn’t bother me too much, because I had been training for it.”

The Bucs also got big wins from Anthony May in the high jump (6-10) and Matthew Braswell in the javelin (204-11).

Opelika provided some highlights of its own, as it got wins from Corey Smith in the 100 (10.51), Quintaze Baker in the 200 (21.57), and Orlando Ezell in the long jump (23-10). 

In the 6A girls’ division, Mountain Brook proved once again that you can win a meet even when you have injuries and sickness. Despite having to rely on some of the younger runners to step up to the plate, the Lady Spartans still had plenty of firepower from its big guns.

Catherine Diethelm and Madeline Morgan finished 1-2 in the 800 (2:15.88/2:16.86), and Morgan came back later to run away with the 3,200 (10:48.20). In addition, Mountain Brook got a big win from Alexandra Morgan in the triple jump (38-1/4) as it defeated Hoover 114-89.50. Shades Valley was third with 51 points, followed by Smiths Station (49.50 and Murphy (38).

“It’s been a hard run,” said Lady Spartan coach Greg Echols. “We’ve been missing a lot of kids because they’re sick or hurt, but we had some younger athletes step up and we’re celebrating the ones that we have here.”

There were some other big performances. Two of them, in fact, resulted in state meet records.

First, Auburn’s Maryashton Nall set a new meet record in the pole vault, clearing 11-7 ¾ to eclipse the old record of 11-7 set by McGill-Toolen’s Rhiannon Jaet in 2003. Then, Mobile Murphy’s Lizzie Clough capped off a remarkable year in the javelin, winning that event with a toss of 134-5 and breaking the old state meet record of 130-0 by McGill-Toolen’s Angela McCord in the process.

Shades Valley won the 4 X 100-meter relay in 47.68, while Morganne Phillips, a member of that team, added to her 400-meter win the day before with a victory in the 200 (24.02). Phillips also finished second in the 100 to Buckhorn’s Krishayle Evans (11.80).

Smiths Station won the 4 X 400 meter relay in 3:57.79.  

5A: Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcopal got a fourth consecutive state girls’ title; Tisher helped see to that.

The result was a 154-109.50 trouncing of Scottsboro, with Birmingham’s John Carroll Catholic a distant third with 45 points. Rounding out the top five were Cenrtal-Tuscaloosa (43) and Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson (33).

Tisher started off day two of the meet with a splendid 14.44 in the 100-meter hurdles, breaking her own record of 14.57 set last year. After winning the 300-meter hurdles in 44.29 and barely missing breaking the record of 44.24 set by B.C. Rain’s Courtney Golston in 2001, Tisher took aim at the pole vault, setting a new standard of 12-8—breaking her own record of 12-7 set last year.

Tisher tried 13-0, but knocked the bar while going down on her three attempts.

“My first two run up attempts were ugly, but the run-up on the last attempt was good,” said Tisher. “The wind came and went. Getting a new record was my goal, and I was hoping for a personal record, but I’m not disappointed.”

Tisher had plenty of help scoring points. A 100/200 double win by Angel Watson (12.27/25.30), plus Margaret Harkness’ convincing win in the 3,200 (11:39.21), Katherine White’s victory in the high jump (5-6) and Lacey Dent’s win in the long jump (18-9), allowed St. Paul’s to stay in the lead.

“This win is really satisfying,” St. Paul’s coach Jim Tate said. “I’m proud of our seniors and the way they went out. But replacing them will be a formidable task.”

Scottsboro had its share of performances too. Shayna McCarver was second in the 300-meter hurdles to Tisher (45.69), finished third in the long jump (17-10 ¾) and anchored the first-place 4 X 100-meter relay team (48.29).

If St. Paul’s girls were on a level road, Spanish Fort’s boys were on a roller coaster. The Toros had to use some come-from-behind heroics to beat Scottsboro, 93.50 to 87. Valley was third with 76 points, followed by defending champion St. Paul’s with 62 and Russellville with 47. 

Coming into the second day, Spanish Fort had a comfortable lead, but Valley used a 110- and 300-meter hurdles double by Quant Lockhart (14.83 and 39.74 respectively) and got points in several other events to move ahead, 76-72. Not long after that, Scottsboro got into the scoring act, getting some key points in throwing events and a first-place finish by Lucas Sieb in the 3,200 (9:44.78) to move ahead of Spanish Fort, 87 to 83.50, with only one event remaining.

That event was the 4 X 400-meter relay. Since the race was contested in heats according to time, Spanish Fort and Scottsboro were paired in the final heat. In order to win the meet, the Toros had to win the race and hope Scottsboro finished no better than second.

Spanish Fort’s quartet of Tyler Winston, Garrett Schumacher, Dalton Younge and Brent Duke got the job done. Using a monster third leg by Younge, the Toros won the race going away in 3:25.48. Scottsboro finished seventh in the heat, and ninth overall in the race, coming away without a single point.

“We trained hard all year, and knew we could do it,” said Duke. “If we had lost, it wouldn’t have really mattered.

Besides Spanish Fort’s thrilling win, there were other outstanding performances. Russellville’s Micah McCullough added to his long jump win the day before (22-11 ½), with wins in the triple jump (46-6 ¼) and the high jump (6-8). Carver-Birmingham’s Keenan Brock got a double win in the 100 (10.89) and the 200 (22.15).

4A: Everybody knew with UMS-Wright in the mix, there would be the possibility of a sweep.

The 4A boys’ division was a foregone conclusion before the first two running events of day two. UMS-Wright’s Robert Willett got things started with a state meet record breaking win in the 800 (1:58.12) to break the old record of 1:58.75 set by another UMS-Wright athlete, Bancroft McMurphy, back in 1990.

Willett—who won the 400 and the 1,600 the day before—concluded the meet with another state meet record. He anchored the winning 4 X 400-meter relay team’s 3:24.26, breaking the old record of 3:25.05 set by Madison County in 1998.

When it was all said and done, the Bulldogs trounced Lincoln 141.50 to 91, with defending champion Guntersville third with 70.50, Greensboro with 62, and Mobile’s B.C. Rain with 45 to round out the top five.

UMS-Wright also got a big win from Sidney Jordan in the discus (156-7).

“We had a bunch of guys who did real well,” said UMS-Wright coach Pat Galle. “Willett had a super meet.”

Other outstanding performances in 4A boys included Midfield’s Jemarcus Nelson won the 100 in 10.78, while Lincoln’s Jonathan George won the 200 in 21.85.

The 4A girls started as a blowout, but turned out to be a real barnburner later as UMS-Wright and Guntersville were snagging points left and right. At one point, Guntersville cut a huge double-digit lead to eight points, but in the end, it was UMS-Wright winning 149.50 to 118.50. Anniston was third (84), and Rogers (64) and Alabama Christian (52.75) rounded out the top five.

UMS-Wright had a 53-point lead over Alabama Christian after the 800-meter run, but Guntersville jumped into contention when Raven Stewart, her sister Kayla, and Taylor Prince swept the 100-meter hurdles.  Raven Stewart’s winning time of 14.77 tied the record set by UMS-Wright’s Edra Finley set in 2003.

Kayla Stewart also added a second-place finish in the 100-meter dash (12.49), then won the 300-meter hurdles in 45.99 and added a third-place finish in the 200 (26.01) to move the Wildcats to within eight points.

But UMS-Wright managed to widen the gap when Kristen Lazarchick and Claire Kennedy finished 1-2 in the 3,200 (12:14.49/12:18.32) and got some much-needed points in several field events to secure the win.

Besides Kayla Stewart tying Finley’s record in the 100-meter hurdles, Cara Pettus of Rogers broke the state meet record in the javelin with a 121-9 toss, breaking the old record set by Kate Bright of St. James in 2007. Anniston crushed the old state meet 4 X 100-meter relay record of 49.40 set by Clarke County with a 48.87.

Other notable individual efforts included Anniston’s Frederica Jordan doubling in the 100 and 200 (12.21/25.18). Jordan’s teammate, Darice Bowie, won the triple jump with a leap of 38-3 ¼.

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