By Lee Davis
Sometimes you don’t need one of your best athletes to win a state championship.
That’s what the Hoover Bucs boys’ indoor track team learned Feb. 4-5 at the Birmingham Metroplex, when it rolled to the state Class 6A title despite the loss of star sprinter Marlon Humphrey.
The two-sport star injured a hamstring in the first day of competition to end his participation in the meet. Despite his loss, Hoover rolled to an easy victory, outdistancing runner-up Auburn 90-71.
“We weren’t supposed to win without Marlon,” said Buccaneer coach Devon Hind. “I was depressed at first (when Humphrey was injured), but then I realized we could do whatever we wanted. I challenged them, and they challenged themselves.”
Hoover won the 4X800 relay, and Micah Bagley won the triple jump.
Oak Mountain’s Randall Ceneus won the 400-meter run. The Bucs’ Charles Moseley was second in the event.
The news was just as good for the Hoover girls, who also claimed the Class 6A title. Led by Brittley Humphrey, Marlon’s sister, the Lady Bucs totaled 130 points to easily outdistance runner-up Pelham’s 72 total. Mountain Brook was third with 42 points.
Brittley Humphrey won the 60-meter run and 60-meter hurdle in record-setting time. Sarah Samford helped the effort with three strong second-place finishes.
Mountain Brook’s Julia Leonard won the high jump.
Homewood won its second consecutive Class 5A championship, totaling 125 points to rout runner-up St. Paul’s by a 52-point margin.
Andy Smith paced the Patriots with victories in the 1600-meter and 3200-meter runs. He was also a member of Homewood’s winning 4X800 relay team that set a Class 5A record. Smith narrowly edged teammate Alex Ngei for the 1600-meter crown.
“Our edge came in the distance and jump events,” said Patriot coach Tom Esslinger. “This may be the most well-rounded team we’ve had.”
Homewood’s girls’ team finished second behind St. Paul’s. The Lady Patriots totaled 120 points to lose narrowly to the Lady Saints.
Kiara Williams sparked Homewood’s effort, sweeping the long jump, triple jump and 60-meter run.
Katie Brooks Boone of Westminster-Oak Mountain won the 60-meter run in Class 1A-4A competition, and Taylor Young of Altamont won the 60-meter hurdles event.
Boone, who will run at Auburn University next year, achieved the victory in the 60-meter event despite suffering a run of injuries and illness during the indoor season.
“I was disappointed not to win the 400 meters, but I got over it and focused on winning the 60 meters,” said Boone. “So I felt pretty good about the meet overall.”
Boone said the victory also should help her confidence as outdoor competition nears.
“Since I’ll be running in college, I want to use the spring as an opportunity to step up my training and get ready for the increased competition,” she said. “It would also be nice to wrap up my senior year with a few more wins.”
As possibly the best-known athlete in her school’s young history, Boone admitted to entering the outdoor season with mixed emotions.
“I love my teammates, and it’s going to be sad to leave them,” she said. “But I’m so excited about the chance to compete at the next level.”
Her school will likely be just as sad to see Boone leave.