The 47th AHSAA State Indoor Track and Field Championships may not have ended the way Fort Payne hoped, but Wildcats track head coach Ashley Jackson said the results from the meet could be deceiving.
The two-day meet began Friday, Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. at the Birmingham Crossplex and ran through Saturday.
The girls’ 4x800 team returned to the indoor meet as defending champions. Unfortunately, the team wasn’t able to earn the title again. They placed third in the finals.
However, Jackson said the team has improved on its championship time since last year.
“People can look at the results and say, ‘Oh, you got third in the 4x800, but we’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Jackson said. “We got a 10:02, and we won it last year with a 10.17. I couldn’t ask for them to do a better job than what we did.
“We’re focusing on getting (the team) better for Walker (High School) and Pelham (High School) at the state outdoor.”
Pelham took first place in the 4x800 event and Walker took second. The Fort Payne girls’ team finished seventh overall in the state indoor meet for Class 6A, and Jackson said they even raced without a complete team.
The Wildcats’ girls 4x400 team finished fourth overall in Class 6A, which Jackson said was “superb” considering the field of competition.
She said one of the highlights from the event was the performance from 12-year-old Maddie Wallace.
Wallace participated in the 6A 400m run and finished with a 1:02.86 in the finals.
“She finished in 10th and that was astounding for a seventh grader,” Jackson said. “She can really be as good as she wants to be. She can be a minute flat if she wants.
“She had a strong leg for us in the 4x800 and 4x400, too. She’s really proved to me and coach (C.M.) Sanford how good she really is and can be.”
Senior Sheldonna Chappell was supposed to run in the girls’ 4x400, but Jackson said Chappell was participating in the long jump at the time and was unable to make it.
Chappell took home a third-place medal in the competition with a jump of 17 feet 6 inches.
Junior Collyn Davis finished fifth in the 6A 800m run.
Jackson said she was impressed with the boys’ 4x200 team, which finished eleventh. She said the team was made up of her “football boys” who are adjusting from running on the gridiron to running at the track.
“They’ll just continue to improve,” Jackson said. “They’ll continue to cut down their time.”
Matthew Shaddix, an eighth grader, finished in the top 10 in the boys’ 60m hurdles with a time of 9.85, and Jackson said she was “looking for big things from him in the future.”
Jackson said another highlight from the day for the boys’ team came from Elijah Cottrell who placed seventh in shot put with a distance of 39 feet 8 inches.
The Fort Payne track team travels to Vestavia on March 12 for the first outdoor meet of the season, and hosts its first home outdoor meet March 19.
Jackson said she and Sanford met with the team earlier this week to discuss the plan of action in order to prepare for the outdoor season.
“The (girls) team was disappointed they didn’t get first, but everyone on the team did great,” Jackson said. “We’ve just got to find ways to train hard and beat (the other teams). We talked to all of them and we told them what we expected and everyone seems to be on board.”