The Fort Payne High School track and field team had their first home meet of the season last Thursday and stood out among some of the best teams in the state in the Northeast Alabama Invitational.
Fort Payne head coach Ashley Jackson especially wanted to thank all the volunteers who helped conduct the meet.
“Most schools have a hard time completing a meet of this size in a full day meet,” Jackson said. “We had over 500 athletes and 12 schools represented on Thursday and the meet took a little over five hours to complete. I would like to thank each and every volunteer that helped make the Northeast Alabama Invitational a huge success. From teachers, coaches, administrators, parents, students and local groups like the Kiwanis Club, who had several members help out in a big way, this meet would not have been possible without their help.”
The girls’ team finished second overall out of 12 teams and were in front of Pelham and Paul Bryant who are both regarded as two of the top programs in Alabama.
The Lady Wildcats’ 4x800-meter relay team didn’t disappoint against their tough opposition. The team of Collyn Davis, Maggie Crow, Gracie Groat and Maggie Groat finished the relay first in 10:02.93 and beat the field by 12 seconds for Fort Payne’s lone win in an event at the meet.
Davis and Maggie Groat joined Ariyana Neal and Madi Wallace to place second in the 4x400-meter relay in 4:19.85.
Fort Payne’s 4x100-meter relay also placed second with a time of 52.39 seconds. That team saw Neal and Wallace join forces with Kaiya Jones and Abigail Johnston.
The Lady Wildcats thrived in long-distance individual events, which helped them earn their second-place finish in the meet.
In the 3,200-meter run, Fort Payne had four runners finish in the top six.
Maggie Crow placed second in 12:04.57, Maddie Jackson was two seconds behind in third place, Mollie Sanderson was fourth and Raven Fairley placed sixth.
The 1,600-meter run was also dominated by the Lady ‘Cats with Crow placing second in 5:34.19. Jackson was two seconds behind Crow again in third and Sanderson placed fifth in 5:48.67.
“Our distance runners really had a great night,” Jackson said. “When you have three or four of your runners score points in one event, those points really add up and help you pull away from other teams.”
Ariyana Neal placed third in the 100-meter hurdles in 16.50 seconds. She was also sixth in the 300-meter hurdles behind Madi Wallace who placed second in the event in 48.10 seconds.
Wallace also finished eighth in the 400-meter dash to earn more points for her team.
Collyn Davis finished third in the 800-meter run in 2:31.77 and Gracie Groat was six seconds behind her in eighth place.
Nykeia McElrath finished eighth in the javelin with a throw of 99 feet, six inches.
Abigail Johnston placed second in the pole vault with a leap of eight feet, six inches.
Makirah Hall was second in the shot put with a throw of 31 feet, seven inches. Lexi Cottrell placed fifth in the event with a throw of thirty feet, 10 inches.
Johnston also earned points in the triple jump event by placing fifth with a distance of 33 feet. Anabel Craig placed eighth with a distance of 30 feet, 6.5 inches to round out Fort Payne’s top-eight finishes.
The boys’ team placed ninth at the meet and had nine top-eight finishes.
The 4x400-meter relay was one of the tightest races of the day and was the team of Will Crow, Matthew Shaddix, Carter Pinholster and Hector Juan finished third in 3:46.59, which was 29 hundredths of a second behind the winners of the event and two hundredths of a second behind the second-place team.
The 4x800-meter relay team of Juan, Jayden Parris, Ben Anderson and Benny Lopez also finished third with a time of 8:57.14.
Shaddix placed eighth in the 110-meter hurdles in 16.54 seconds. He was also seventh in the 300-meter hurdles in 45.16 seconds, which was a second behind Pinholster who place sixth in the event.
The 3,200-meter run saw Ben Anderson place seventh in 11:19.01. Israel Velazquez placed eighth in the event and was less than a second behind Anderson.
Will Crow was fifth in the 400-meter dash in 54.76 seconds and Colton Wells was eighth in the high jump to round out the boys’ top-eight finishes.
Both teams will travel to Scottsboro on Saturday to compete in the Scottsboro Invitational against more of the top teams in the state.