Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
Falkville High sophomore Paige McCarley experiences a moment of dejection after failing to clear her final jump. She still placed third in the high jump in the state indoor track and field meet Friday in Priceville.
'Jennifer' defends title
Austin junior runs to state record in capturing indoor 3,200 meters
By Brooke Milam
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2460
PRICEVILLE — It’s easy to see that Austin High junior Jennifer Dunn has made a name for herself among the track and field community throughout the state. So much so that she’s known to many athletes and coaches simply as “Jennifer.”
“Throughout the state it gets to the point that she and some of these other girls race against each other so much that they just check them in by first names,” Austin coach Casey Reed said.
“They’re pretty familiar with each other, and Jennifer is even well-known among college coaches.”
So, when “Jennifer” stepped onto the track for the Class 6A 3,200-meter run, her first event Friday in the state indoor track meet, the packed Celebration Arena crowd was expecting something
big. And the petite 5-foot-4 runner delivered.
Dunn defended her 3,200-meter indoor title and set a state record in 10 minutes, 42.83 seconds, breaking her own record of 10:57.51 set at last year’s indoor championships.
Events continue Saturday at Celebration Arena, and admission is $6 for the day.
The stiff competition in girls 6A featured Mountain Brook sophomore Madeline Morgan, who also beat Dunn’s previous record in the 3,200 meter to finish second in 10:48.70.
When asked which was more important to her, breaking her own record or repeating as state champion, Dunn answered without hesitation.
“To break my record,” she said.
Reed said that for Dunn, personal bests and championships usually go hand-in-hand.
“When she gets the time she wants, things usually turn out well,” Reed
Falkville sophomores Krystal Gibbs and Jace Wilemon also took individual titles Friday, both in the 1A-4A 800-meter run.
Gibbs trailed Altamont senior Elisabeth Molen until the final lap when teammates and family willed her into the lead from the stands.
“I was thinking I’ve been running against (Molen) for four years and I’d never beaten her,” Gibbs said.
Gibbs finished in 2:27.14 for her first state title, ahead of Molen’s time of 2:28.17.
“I had a lot of support at the end,” Gibbs said.
In the 1A-4A boys 800 meters, Wilemon and Falkville teammate Shane Edge, a senior, pushed each other.
The pair pulled away from the field. The two Blue Devils left the track arm-in-arm as cramps set in but were not able to overcome the emotion of the moment. Wilemon won with a time of 2:03.38, while Edge finished in 2:03.72.
Other top performances were Falkville sophomore Paige McCarley's third-place finish in the high jump and Decatur senior Mary Elaine Williamson and freshman Sally Adams placing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 5A 3,200-meter run.
Also for Decatur, senior Meghan Hawkins was third in the 5A girls 800 meters, while freshmen Brittney Toney and Paris Owens were fifth and sixth, respectively, in the shot put.
"We just wanted to get them out here for the experience, and they've done really well," Decatur coach Rick Doke
Athens Bible junior Andy Davidson was fourth in the boys 1A-4A 3,200-meter run in 10:34.74, and Falkville junior Justin Blanchard was fifth, finishing in 10:37.76.
Austin junior Kinard Wallace made the 6A long jump finals, finishing third in just his second meet .
Reed said his 26-athlete contingent has exceeded his expectations in his first season coaching indoor track and field for the Black Bears.
"I've been very, very pleased with how we've done this season," Reed said.
There are still possible accomplishments Saturday. For all Dunn's successes, she still can find reason to work toward future goals — most immediately Saturday's 1,600-meter run, in which she finished second in last year.
"I hope I can run a sub-five-minute mile (on Saturday)," Dunn said. "I've run 5:01.00, so I'm really close."
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