By Rubin E. Grant
Hoover track coach Chris Schmidt was both excited and relieved after the 2022 Alabama High School Athletic Association State Indoor Track Championships last weekend at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
The Bucs boys and girls team swept the Class 7A state championships but in completely different ways.
The Hoover girls dominated, taking an early lead and never looking back en route to claiming their 10th girls state crown. They won with 119 points, well ahead of second-place Hewitt-Trussville (76.33 points) and third-place Vestavia Hills (72). Spain Park (38) and Auburn (35) rounded out the top five.
The Hoover boys had to overcome a baton handoff that went awry in the 4×200-meter relay that Hoover was expected to win, resulting in a close battle the rest of the way and a strong challenge from rival Vestavia Hills.
The Bucs boys finished with 108 points to claim Hoover’s 11th boys state indoor championship. Vestavia Hills was second with 100 points. The Bucs have won seven state boys championships since 2013.
“It was a fun meet,” said Schmidt, in his first year as head coach after replacing legendary coach Devon Hind, who retired in the spring. “We were favored in both, but I thought the boys were going to give it away. It was stressful after the baton mishap. I’ve got a little more gray hair.
“I was a little more concerned about the girls going in, but they stepped it up and were amazing. They were on point in every single event and picked up bonus points in every event. That was fun to watch.”
The Bucs’ girls swept the three relays, the 4×200, 4×400 and 4×800.
The 4×200 team clocked 1:40.93, just 2/100ths of a second off the Class 7A Indoor State Meet record set by Hoover in 2016. The four runners, Jebreiya Chapman, Gabrielle Washington, Taylor Canada and Layla Wilson, also improved their best qualifying time by more than a second in the victory.
Hoover’s 4×400 team of Chapman, Canada, Washington and McKenzie Blackledge finished with a time of 4:00.98. Spain Park was second with a 4:04.95 time.
Hoover’s 4×800 team of Blackledge, Ashley Girouard, Daisy Luna and Lana Kate Hammonds won with a 9:40.60 time. Vestavia Hills was second, two seconds back at 9:42.87.
Luna also won the 400-meter dash with a 56.26 time. Spain Park’s MacKenzie Culpepper, who won the 800 meters race, was second, clocking 56.79.
Langley Jung cleared 5-06 in the high jump to take first place for the Bucs girls.
In the boys competition, Hoover’s Jay Avery won the long jump with a leap of 22-00.25 and the triple jump, going 48-08.75. The Bucs’ Collin Pate and Carter Ellis each cleared 15-03 in the pole vault competition, with Pate winning a jump-off to claim the title.
The 4×800 relay team of Sam Kilgore, Matthew Harden, Cannon Peters and Elijah Joseph also won, finishing in 7:58.
DJ Black was second in the 60-meter dash, Joseph was second in the 1,600, Avery was second in the high jump and Bradley Shaw was third in shot put.
Vestavia Hills Solid
Vestavia’s boys shined in the running events. Alex Leath won the 800 (1:53.65) and 1,600 (4:22.98). John Stephens won the 400 in 49.42 seconds, edging Rebels teammate Matthew Rainer, who crossed just 1/10th of a second later at 49.52.
The Rebels also claimed the top spots in the 4×200 and 4×400 relays. Stephens, Rainer, Colin Robinson and Wyatt Raley ran the 200, with Rainer, Leath, Stephens and Bo Webb running the 400.
Webb finished second in 60 hurdles, Rainer was second in the 400, Will Jordan was second in the 3,200, and the 4×800 team was second.
On the girls side, Vestavia Hills senior distance runner Crawford West turned in another stellar performance. She clocked 4:58.68 to win the Class 7A 1,600 meters, breaking the AHSAA Class 7A indoor state meet record (4:59.58) she set last year.
West set another 7A record in the 3,200 meters, beating the field with a 10:49.48 time – 10 seconds faster than the indoor state meet record (10:58.27) she set in 2021.
The Rebels’ Angelica Vines won the long jump with a leap of 16-11.5, and Kennedy Moreland won the pole vault, clearing 11 feet. Claire Spooner was third in the 1,600, Abbie Richenderfer was third in the pole vault and the 4×800 relay team placed second.
Spain Park’s Culpepper ran a blistering time of 2:13.40 to win the girls 800 meters. Her time was just one second off the 7A Indoor State Meet record (2:12.125) set by McGill-Toolen Catholic’s Claire Frazier Bolton in 2020. Hoover’s Blackledge was second with a 2:14.15 time.
Culpepper also was part of the Jaguars’ 4×400 relay team, along with Sydney Baker, Maddie Davis and Delaney Vickers, that finished second.
Oak Mountain’s Ethan Hammett won the boys high jump, clearing 6-04, while Spain Park’s John Landers finished third in the boys pole vault.
Mountain Brook Girls Fall Short
The Mountain Brook girls came up just short in Class 6A, finishing second with 89.33 points, just behind Northridge (91 points), which won its second straight 6A title. Homewood was third with 70 points.
The Spartans’ Reagan Riley won individual championships in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. She won the 1,600 in 5:02.68, with teammate Clark Stewart runner-up at 5:08.56. Homewood’s Emma Brooke Levering was third.
In the 3,200 meters, Riley clocked 10:51.57, finishing ahead of Stewart (10:57.97) and Levering (11:41.90).
Riley finished second in the 800 with a time of 2:11.53, just behind Chelsea’s Cady McPhail, who clocked 2:10.72 to win. The Spartans’ Lucy Benton was third with a time of 2:12.45
Mountain Brook’s Camille Gillum finished second in the high jump at 5-04.00. Mountain Brook’s team of Hunter Anderson, Callie Kent, Mary Katherine Malone and Kennedy Hamilton won the 4×800 in 9:43.92. The Spartans’ team of Kent, Malone, Riley and Benton won the 4×400 in 4:04.03. Homewood was second in 4:09.16.
Homewood’s Naeemah Gamble won the shot put with a throw of 39 feet, 2 inches. The Patriots’ Brooke Walden and Jordan Reaves tied for third in the pole vault and 4×400 relay team of Norah Nickoli, Olivia Burczyk, Sarah Derriso and Mary Siena McBride placed second.
In the Class 6A boys completion, Homewood’s Spencer Lamb won the 60-meter hurdles in 8.30 seconds and teammate Slate Rohrer finished third in 8.49.
Mountain Brook’s Max Baltz finished second in the high jump at 6-00.00. Davis Lee placed third in the 400. The Spartans’ 4×400 team of Spence Morano, Robert Sproule, K.J. Leedy and Lee finished second. The 4×800 team of Harry Clark, Jack Chapman, Bibb Albright and Clayton Collins finished third.
Scottsboro claimed the 6A boys team title with 77 points. Mountain Brook finished fourth (44) and Homewood was fifth (42.5).
John Carroll’s Arthur Langley finished second in the boys 3200-meter run and third in the 800-meter run while Indian Springs’ Elise Picard finished third in the girls 3200-meter run.
Class 1A-3A Girls
Mobile Christian won the Class 1A-3A girls championship with 79.5 points – winning by a slim 4.5 points over runner-up Westminster at Oak Mountain.
Altamont’s Carson Hicks ran 7.95 to win the 60-meter dash and was second in the 400-meter dash with a time of 1:00.84.
Altamont’s Merritt Fulmer turned in her top performance of the season with a winning height of 9-09 in the pole vault competition.
Westminster at Oak Mountain’s 4×400 relay team of Vale Richie, Elizabeth Bandura, Cammi Griffith and Madden Sellers finished first with a 4:24.40 time.