Collyn Davis, Olivia Thurman and Gracie Groat finished 1,2 and 4 in the 800 meter Saturday at the Class 6A Section 4 track meet.

Fort Payne track coach Kenny Chadwick waited patiently, and nervously, in the first turn as the runners took their starting marks for the 800 meter, which was the next to last event of the Class 6A Section 4 track and field meet.

His team was trailing Cullman by two points with only two events to go, but Chadwick and the Lady Wildcats had their big hitters in the 800 meter coming up in Collyn Davis, Olivia Thurman and Gracie Groat — a seventh grader.

When the starting gun sounded all anxiety ended for Fort Payne as all three runners jumped out into the top-3 spots. Davis breezed to the win and a school record in the 800 meter, Thurman was right behind her in second and Groates finished fourth.

The finish secured the Lady Wildcats their second sectional championship in back to back years.

“That sealed the deal,” Chadwick said. “It was very nerve racking, but we new Cullman didn’t have anyone in the 800 and if we ran our times then we would be OK. We came out first, second and fourth and for the majority of it we were one, two and three.”

That wasn’t the only solid performance of the two-day meet, though. Four school records on the girls’ side were broken en route to the sectional title.

Chadwick said pulling off back-to-back titles was no easy task, but his team rose to the occasion.

“We felt pretty good coming in and we had some performances go our way,” Chadwick said. “When you’ve got a section as deep as we do, being able to win it once is good, but winning it back-to-back is huge for us. We had to have our whole team pull together and it was a complete team effort.”

Sheldonna Chappell (long jump), Nykeia Mcelrath (javelin), the 4x100 meter relay team (Laura Ellen Rigdon, Chappell, Cassie Jones and Ariyana Neal), Davis (800 meter) and Thurman (1,600 meter) each broke school records for the girls.

On the boys side Bradley Green secured his spot in the school record books in the javelin with a distance of 51.84m, which was good enough for first place in the javelin.

A sign that highlights all of the school records sits at the entrance to Wildcat Stadium. Chadwick joked with the team afterwards that the school is going to have to completely redo the sign.

“It’s a really good group,” Chadwick said. “We compete in about 24 events and in the last three years we’ve broken school records in 18 of those 24 events. We’ve had track here for close to 40 years, so this group is really talented. The scary thing is we’re hardly losing anybody next year. All of them will be back.”

On the boys side the Wildcats came away with a 16th place finish. Chadwick said he’s happy with that considering how young the boys are.

“The boys actually did a littler better than what we thought,” Chadwick said. “The boys are just a young team and that’s just how it is. We finished mid pack with the youngest boys team we’ve ever had. That’s kind of a win for us.”

Here are the top finishers for Fort Payne:

100 meter:

Sheldonna Chappell, second

Laura Ellen Rigdon, seventh

200 meter:

Sheldonna Chappell, fourth


Collyn Davis, (2nd)


Collyn Davis, first

Olivia Thurman, second

Gracie Groat, fourth


Olivia Thurman, second

Maggie Crow, sixth


Gracie Groat, fifth

Ashley Alonzo, eighth

Girls 100 meter hurdles:

Ariyana Neal, sixth

4x100 meter relay:

Fort Payne, fourth

4x400 meter relay:

Fort Payne first

4x800 meter relay:

Fort Payne, first

Pole Vault:

Sydney Fobbus, third

Girls Long Jump:

Sheldonna Chappell, second

Girls Triple Jump:

Sydney Fobbus, seventh

Ashley Morales, eighth

Shot put:

Nykeia Mcelrath, seventh


Nykeia Mcelrath, first

Thanne Thompson, third

Keisy Trinidad: fifth



Bradley Green first

800 meter:

Jayden Parris, ninth

4x400 meter relay team:

Fort Payne, fourth (Desmond Turner, Trea Prater, Wanya King, Daurice Maddox)

Triple jump:

Trea Prater, 11th

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