Wildcats

FORT PAYNE — As the Fort Payne girls track and field team continues thriving collectively, head coach Selena Penton knows there are several who are still chasing personal goals.

“I am hoping that we can use our home meet to our advantage this week and get some of those times and distances we are shooting for,” Penton said after the Fort Payne girls won this weekend’s Cullman Classic and began preparation for Friday’s Fort Payne Invitational. 

Fort Payne scored 119 points to win the girls division at Cullman on Saturday. James Clemens tallied 105 points for second place and Huntsville placed third with 103 points.

Madi Wallace won first place in the 100-meter hurdles (15.28) and first in the 300-meter hurdles (44.83). She also finished third in the long jump (15 feet, 9 inches).

Penton said Wallace is sitting in first place for Class 6A in both the 100-meter and 300-meter hurdles. Wallace’s 44.83 finish in the 300-meter race set a personal record, as well as her previous Fort Payne High School record in the event.

Fort Payne captured first place in the girls 4x400-meter relay, second place in the 4x800 and fourth in the 4x100. 

Maddie Jackson finished second in the girls 800-meter run (2:26), Anahi Barboza placed seventh in the event (2:32) and Reese McCurdy clocked in 10th place (2:33).

Maggie Groat was third in the girls 300-meter hurdles (47.14) and Madisyn Hill finished eighth (51.93). Groat placed fourth in the 400-meter dash (1:02.39) and Ruthie Jones placed sixth in the event (1:03.22) in addition to a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter dash (27.80).

“Our girls distance team had a strong showing in the 800-meter run,” Penton said. “All four of our 4x800-meter relay prospects ran a 2:33 or better in the open 800, which is great for this point in the season. 

“Maddie’s 2:26 will be good to place her in the top five in 6A standings.”

In the field events, Fort Payne’s girls scored a collective 48 points Saturday, while also missing some key contributors. Penton has touted the performances of the Wildcats’ field athletes.

“If we can keep this up, then I am optimistic that we will continue to see team success,” Penton said. 

Jordan Strogov finished second in the high jump (4-10) and third in the pole vault (9 feet). Lennon Ibsen placed second in the pole vault (9-6) and third in the triple jump (33-9). 

Wallace measured 15-9 in the long jump for third place.

“The jumpers had a great day, but we are still not where we want to be consistently,” Penton said. “The goal for pole vaulters is to get over 10 feet. Lennon and Jordan have progressed immensely in the short time since indoor season began, and with a few more meets I think they will be getting over that 10-foot mark on a regular basis.  

“For high jumpers it’s over 5 feet, and we want Madi to be over 16 feet in the long jump. Lennon got an awesome (personal record) in the triple jump at 33-09 to push her into the top five in 6A rankings.”

Bella Weaver finished third in the javelin throw (101 feet) and Brylan Gray tossed the discus 91 feet, 4 inches to place third.

“Bella has been chasing that 100-foot distance in the javelin for a while,” Penton said. “I was so glad to see her get over that hump this weekend with a throw of 101 feet.  

“This is only Brylan’s second year as a thrower, and she really only got to compete once last year after COVID ended our season. To see her competing at such a high level in the throws at such a young age makes me really excited to see what more she can accomplish both this season and throughout her career.”

For the Fort Payne boys, Skyler Cody clocked in at 45.15 seconds to place seventh in the 300-meter hurdles; Darrell Prater finished seventh in the discus throw (119-3); Patrick Sherrill placed ninth in the triple jump (41-3); Owen Pettis was ninth in the 400-meter dash (53.27); Malik Turner placed 10th in the high jump (5-8).

“Our boys team is in a period of growth right now,” Penton said. “We’ve got some young prospects that I think will continue to improve with experience.”

The Fort Payne Invitational begins at 4 p.m. Friday at Fort Payne High School. The Wildcats will host 18 teams, including Fyffe, Geraldine, Pisgah, Scottsboro and Section.

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