Hoover Indoor Track
The Hoover High School girls indoor track and field team won their third straight state championship Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
Entering the indoor track and field season, Hoover head coach Devon Hind knew the key to a third consecutive state title rested in the status of his team’s health.
As long as the Hoover girls, led by a quartet of past state champions, remained injury-free, a three-peat seemed close to a guarantee.
Fit, fast and primed to compete, the Bucs left nothing to chance at the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s State Indoor Track and Field Championships, held Feb. 5-6, at the Birmingham CrossPlex, storming to the Class 7A state title by a 43-point margin.
“Everybody ran as well or competed as well as they have all year and most of them competed better, so I have no complaints,” Hind said. “The girls were supposed to win; they won huge, and that’s what they’re supposed to do.”
Propelled by stellar performances from Brittley Humphrey, Presley Weems, Sydney Steely, Caitlyn Little and Genesis Jones, Hoover totaled 126 points, the highest girls team score regardless of classification.
Humphrey won the 60-meter hurdles (8.48 seconds) and placed second in both the 60-meter dash (7.80) and 400-meter dash (56.35). An LSU signee, she broke her own state meet and CrossPlex facility record in the 60 hurdles, bolting to a time of 8.47 in the prelims before clinching her fourth straight indoor event title in the finals.
Little, Humphrey’s training partner, trailed her teammate closely in the short sprints, posting a runner-up finish in the 60-meter hurdles (8.71) and placing sixth in the 60-meter dash (7.95).
In the mid-distance events, Weems and Steely combined to go one-two in the 800 meters, crossing the line in 2:13.19 and 2:16.86, respectively. As of Feb. 10, Weems’ sizzling time ranked seventh in the nation. A Samford signee, she also notched a fifth-place finish in the 1,600 meters and, along with Steely, Ava Weems and Caroline Franklin, contributed to the team’s meet-record-breaking 4x800-meter relay (9:26.76).
Worthy of mention, the Bucs 4x200-meter relay team of Ayana Eason, Camiya Knight, Adetola Koiki and Alexia Wilson posted a meet record (1:40.91) on its way to victory.
Jones highlighted the team’s success in the field events, claiming a first-place finish in the high jump with a leap of 1.57 meters (5-2).
On the boys side, Hoover battled to a runner-up finish, edging out Hewitt-Trussville in the meet’s final event.
Trailing the Huskies by a half a point heading in to the 4x400-meter relay, Hoover fought to a fourth-place finish in 3:31.08 to seal the red trophy.
“My kids just ran faster than we have all year. It’s unbelievable,” Hind said.
Collectively, the Hoover boys were led by Tommy McDonough and Jacob Doak.
McDonough recorded a pair of second-place finishes in the 1,600 (4:22.38) and 3,200 (9:35.64), while also anchoring the school-record-breaking 4x800 relay. With a time of 7:59.49, which ranked 11th nationally as of Feb. 10, McDonough, John Paul Rumore, Alex Leary and Joe Leventry dipped under the 42-year-old school-record mark by a tenth of second, earning a second-place finish.
“We are super excited about that even though they got beat at the end by Mountain Brook; that was a great race,” Hind said.
Not to be outdone, Doak laid claim to a school record of his own in the pole vault, soaring over the bar at 4.57 meters (15 feet) to claim a runner-up finish.
“I have seen him going over the bars like that in practice, but he’s never done it in a meet,” Hind said. “That was just unbelievable.”
Shades Mountain Christian
Prior to his senior year at Shades Mountain Christian School, Dylan Pausic was simply a student-athlete.
Now, having won three individual state championships in a span of three months, he can add another descriptive title to his list: author.
After blasting through a pair of 13 and 14-year-old marks at the Class 1A-3A indoor state track and field meet, Pausic is effectively rewriting the record books.
The now-four-time state champion cruised to an easy victory in the 3,200 on the first day of competition, winning by over 15 seconds and snagging the 1A-3A state meet record that dates back to 2002.
He then came back just over 24 hours later and burst through another meet record, dating to 2003, in the 1,600, clocking a time of 4:30.59.
“I was a little sore in my calves and stuff, but I mean after the race yesterday, the 2-mile race, I just went home, ate a good meal, and kind of rested and slept,” Pausic said. “I had to prepare myself mentally for it, too, because I knew it was going to be hard coming off two days in a row.”
Having notched a 1A-2A record in the fall at the state cross-country meet, Pausic has positioned himself to potentially clinch every small school distance record in the book, should he churn out an identical performance at the outdoor state meet in May.
“It gives me a lot of hope, a lot of self-confidence, knowing that I’m one of the best in my division,” Pausic said, “so I’m always going in to the next race very confident, knowing that I have a good chance to win.”
Boosted by Daniel Nixon, the Spain Park boys totaled 44 points to place fifth in Class 7A at the indoor state meet.
Nixon darted to a meet record in the 800, outlasting Mountain Brook’s Drew Williams in the closing meters and posting a scorching time of 1:55.51. He also earned a runner-up finish in the 400 (49.54) and anchored the third-place 4x400 relay team.
Despite entering the meet with second slowest seed time, the 4x400 relay, composed of Nixon, Shannon Lott, Jalen McMillan and Kameron McDaniel, claimed a surprise podium finish out of the first heat.
“I knew those guys had it in them. I knew they had the potential,” Spain Park head coach Michael Zelwak said. “The fact that they were able to put it all together, those guys really ran out of their minds.”
Damon Wright notched a third-place finish in the shot put and Christian Strong placed fourth in the 60 hurdles, rounding out the boys top individual performers.
The Jaguar girls, paced by a pair of top-eight showings from Sarah Sims McGrath in the 1,600 and 3,200, finished 11th overall.