By Rubin E. Grant
Homewood’s stranglehold on the Class 6A indoor track titles was broken Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
The Patriots had swept the boys and girls state championships the past three years, but the boys finished second and the girls third in the 51st Alabama High School Association State Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Opelika won the boys title with 81 points, followed by Homewood with 66 points, Scottsboro with 52, Mountain Brook with 35 and St. Paul’s Episcopal with 32.
Northridge edged Mountain Brook for the girls title by 97 to 86 points. Homewood was third with 59 points, followed by McGill-Toolen Catholic with 45 and Fort Payne with 38.
“It had to come to an end at some point,” Homewood coach Josh Donaldson said reluctantly. “With Northridge in the girls and Opelika in the boys, we ran into two dominant teams. And with Mountain Brook and McGill-Toolen dropping down (from Class 7A), we didn’t have it all matched up.
“But I am really proud of both of our teams. We still came up with a runner-up trophy in the boys.”
Despite their title streaks ending, the Patriots still had plenty to celebrate, particularly sophomore Brooke Walden’s setting the Class 6A girls’ indoor pole vault record with a winning clearance of 12 feet, 1¼ inches. Margaret Ollinger of McGill-Toolen Catholic set the mark of 12 feet, 1 inch at the 2014 state meet. Ollinger also set the CrossPlex record (13-02.50) in a regular season meet in 2015.
“Brooke had been dealing with a couple injuries, so I am glad she was able to compete,” Donaldson said. “Afterward, she goes, ‘Well I’m tired. I don’t have anything left.’”
Walden’s personal record had been 11 feet, 6 inches. Her shins were bothering her entering the meet and she took some medications and received treatment so she could compete.
“They hurt really bad, so I wasn’t expecting to break a record,” Walden said. “After I did, I just laid there and said to myself, ‘Oh gosh, did that really happen?’ My teammates were really happy. It felt good and exciting.”
The Patriots’ Cross Derriso won the boys pole vault with a clearance of 15-06.00.
Homewood senior Crawford Hope won the 1,600-meter run with a time of 4:20.96. Hope, a North Carolina signee, finished third in the 3,200 (9:22.34) and fourth in 800 (1:57.65).
“That was definitely a highlight with him running all three distance races in such a limited amount of time at this year’s meet,” Donaldson said. “He also anchored our 4×400 relay team. It was incredible to watch him do all that.”
Spenser Lamb took second in the boys 60-meter hurdles, clocking 8.34. The Homewood girls 4×200 relay team also had a second-place finish with a time of 4:13.98.
Sam Dill took third in the boys high jump with a leap of 6-00.00, and Naeemah Gamble was third in the shot put with a put of 33-02.50.
Mountain Brook Girls Come Up Just Short
Mountain Brook girls had a strong showing, led by senior Grayson Scott. Scott won the high jump with a leap of 5-08.00, finished second in the long jump (16-06.25) and placed third in the triple jump (35-08.50).
The Spartans took first place in both the 4×400 relay race (4:13.05) and the 4×800 race (10:02.30).
Regan Riley finished second in the 1,600-meter run (5:10.18) and third in the 3,200 (11:19.00). Camille Gillum was third in the high jump (5:02.00), Mary Katherine Malone was fourth in the 1,600 (5:20.98) and Julia Grooms was fourth in the pole vault (10-00.00).
The Spartans’ boys had three third-place finishers, Hugh Stokes in the 60-meter hurdles (8.57), Davis Plowden in the 800-meter run (1:57.52) and Thomas Renneker in the pole vault (14-00.00).
Hallie Porterfield of Westminster-Oak Mountain swept the girls distance races in the Class 1A-3A meet, winning the 800 with a time of 2:17.71, the 1,600 in 5:24.49 and the 3,200 in 11:24.24.
Her efforts helped Westminster earn a close second-place finish with 76 points behind Providence Christian, which won with 87 points.
The Altamont girls were fourth with 50 points, getting solid performances from Carson Hicks and Kaia Todd and in the relays.
Hicks won the 60-meter dash with a time of 8:05 and finished third in the 400-meter, clocking 59.57. Todd won the 60-meter hurdles in 9.77 and was third in the 60-meter dash with a time of 8.25.
The Knights won the 4×400 relay (4:25.54) and was second in the 4×200 (1:55.26).
The Altamont boys won the 4×400 relay (3:41.34) and were second in the 4×800 (8:49.24) on the way to a fifth-place team