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The 4x400 relay squad won the gold medal at the AHSAA State Track & Field Meet on its way to the Class 1-3A State Championship for Madison Academy. The winning relay squad featured Josh A. Williams, Caleb Williams, J.R. Howard, Jackson Reece. Photo- Shannon Dorsey, Madison Academy

Madison Academy Wins Track State Championship; Bob Jones And Sparkman Athletes Win Individual State Titles

GULF SHORES/CULLMAN– The AHSAA State Track & Field Meets were wild, wooly and record setting for local athletes representing the four local high school track teams at the annual events held at Gulf Shores and Cullman.  The Madison Academy boy’s track team won its first ever team championship, Sparkman’s Bobby Day picked up two individual state titles while both Jordan Urrutia and Kaitlyn Ford won gold medals as Ford set a new state record in the high jump.

“Winning the state title is unreal as it was rewarding to see these athletes celebrate winning, especially on the last event of the meet,” said Shannon Dorsey, in his eighth year as head coach at Madison Academy and starter of the program for the Mustangs. “We have 25 boys and no girls in our track program and these youngsters performing as they did is the true testament to this program. Our athletes took care of business and having so many of the boys perform well was the difference at the end of the day.”

The Mustangs won just two gold medals in both the 4×100-meter and 4×400 relay squads, but it was the numerous other strong finishes that was the difference in the team scoring that had Madison Academy with 58 points to runner-up Flomaton’s 55. The winning effort in the 4×400, the last event of the meet, nailed down the AHSAA blue trophy, but points accumulated by other finishers put the points on the board.

Those outstanding point winning efforts included Sam Hall (fourth, 3200m, 10:05.38), Jackson Reece (fourth, 400m, 51.90 and 800m, 2:02.33), J.R. Howard (sixth, 400m, 52.69), 4x800m relay (fourth, Parker Moore, Sam Hall, J.R. Howard, Jackson Reece, 8:37.70, school record), Maurice Scott (sixth, high jump, 5-8), Lucas Hazelrig (sixth, triple jump, 40-00.50 and fourth, 200m, 27.96), Selano Thomas (sixth, 100m, 11.40) and Ken Cherry (eighth, 100m, 11.73). The 4x100m title winners at 43.42 were Selano Thomas, Ken Cherry, Josh Williams and Lucas Hazelrig. The 4×400 gold medal winning efforts came from Josh Williams, Caleb Williams, J.R. Howard and Jackson Reece.

With just three seniors on the squad (Lucas Hazelrig, Parker Moore and Carson Knotts) and an expected influx of new members added to the roster for 2024, next season is already looking promising for Dorsey, 32. “We hope to double our numbers after winning the title this year. We had a great group of coaches who made the season possible for all of us.”

For the Bob Jones Patriots, Sparkman and James Clemens in the Class 7A meet in Gulf Shores, all watched as Hoover won both the boys and girls team titles with 146.5 points in boys and 125 in girls. In boys, the final team tally of scores were 7. Bob Jones 45, 10. James Clemens 23.5 and 11. Sparkman 23. In girls, 10. Bob Jones 26, 12. Sparkman 18.5 and 17. James Clemens 9.

Bob Jones took home six medals: Girls- 400m, 2. Alivia Urrutia, 8, 57.04, high jump, 1. Kaitlyn Ford, 12, 5-08.00 new state record; Boys- 400m, 2. Jordan Urrutia, 11, 48.07, 200m, 1. Jordan Urrutia, 11, 21.51, high jump, 3. Malachi Mitchell, 12, 6-02, 4x400m, 2. 3:17.52. James Clemens had two medal performances both in boy’s action: 800m, 3. Dylan Dryer, 11, 1:56.38, 4×800, 3. 7:50.41. Sparkman took home three medals, two of which were gold by senior Bobby Gray who won titles in the discus, 171-07, and shot put, 57-03.50. In girls, Charity Collier, 9, was third in the discus at 116-09.

For Gray, who won the state indoor championship in the shot put, came back from left knee surgery to capture his three state titles in 2023. The 6-foot, 205-pound Gray said, “I felt good and worked all season to get to this point. I loved seeing all my hard work pay off.”

Gray would love nothing better than to participate in track in college and earning a scholarship. He’s currently undecided about the college of his choice, while having a 3.78 grade point average, but has thoughts of possibly being a walk-on at Kentucky.

Participating on the Sparkman track team since the seventh grade Gray said the difference for him in this year’s State Meet was the fact, he lost in his efforts last year and was committed to be better in his senior season.

“I was committed to beating my opponents who beat me last year,” added Gray. “This was my chance to get back at them. It’s very competitive on the big stage and I’m proud of the 40 medals I have won over the years that I have my room at home. I hope to earn more during some AAU events this summer.”

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