Lady 'Cats earn gold at state meet

The Fort Payne Lady Wildcats’ 4x800-meter relay team added another set of gold medals to their collection at the AHSAA State Indoor Track and Field Championship Meet on Friday and Saturday at the Birmingham CrossPlex.

The team of Maggie Crow, Maggie Groat, Collyn Davis and Gracie Groat clocked a time of 10:00.22 and beat the entire field by 13 seconds to be named the 2017 Class 6A Indoor 4x800 relay State Champions. This marks the second time Fort Payne has won the indoor 4x800. The Lady Wildcats have won the relay three more times in the outdoor state meet.

“Going into the 4x800, Pelham was ranked No. 1 ahead of us by two seconds, and we went out and beat them by 13 seconds,” Fort Payne head coach Ashley Jackson said. “It was a huge win for us. It’s also a huge confidence boost for our girls after getting third last year and going into the outdoor season knowing that they have a lot of work to do to catch up. We’ll have to continue to work hard as well to stay out in front.”

The Lady Wildcats brought a team of 11 girls who competed in seven events at the State Meet and placed fifth out of a field of 25 teams competing in Class 6A.

Fort Payne also had their 4x400-meter relay team earn a spot on the podium.

Eighth graders Maggie Groat and Madi Wallace teamed with seniors Ariyana Neal and Davis to place third in the event with a time of 4:10.

“Their qualifying time was 4:17,” Jackson said. “To cut seven seconds off that time to get on the podium was a huge accomplishment for our two eighth graders on that team, and it also was a great way to go out for Collyn and Ariyana since this was their last indoor meet.”

Neal also earned points for Fort Payne for her effort in the 60-meter hurdles event. Her time of 9.95 seconds placed seventh and was less than half a second away from a podium spot.

Neal also broke the school record for the 60-meter hurdle with her preliminary time of 9.77 seconds. The previous record was set in 1990 at 9.98 seconds.

Crow ran the mile in 5:28 and placed fifth. She was three seconds away from earning a spot on the podium. Gracie Groat finished seventh with a time of 5:39.

Seventh grader Maddie Jackson ran the two-mile event in 11:53 and placed fourth. Her time was a huge improvement over her 12:18 qualifying time and she only trailed the third-place finisher by five seconds. Gracie Groat finished behind Jackson in fifth place with a time of 12:21.

Crow also placed fifth with a 2:28 in the 800-meter run and Makirah Hall placed seventh in the shot put with a throw of 31 feet, 5 inches.

Coach Jackson said it was quite an accomplishment for the team to place fifth overall with only 11 girls participating for Fort Payne.

“Teams can fill their rosters up to 28 participants, but we only had 11,” Jackson said. “I think it says a lot about our girls to place fifth after only gaining points in seven events. I’m extremely proud of our team, and we’re looking forward to having a great outdoor season.”

The team will take this week off before they begin preparing to win more gold during the outdoor track and field season.

Fort Payne’s first meet of the outdoor season is on March 4 in Tuscaloosa.

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