Liberty students soar in meet
By MIKE EASTERLING / For the Record
BIRMINGHAM – Eight Liberty Middle School students, running under the banner of James Clemens High, lived up to Coach Drew Bell’s mantras and won a state indoor track and field championship.
Behind Shataeya Ligon, who finished first in three individual events and was named meet Most Valuable Athlete, the Jets claimed their first Gold Medal Middle School Championship at the Birmingham CrossPlex Jan. 28.
James Clemens, which placed second in the event in 2014, scored 62.5 points to edge Bumpus Middle of Hoover (59) and meet host Mountain Brook Jr. High (58).
The Jets followed Bell’s themes of “History Repeats Itself’’ and “Success Repeats Success’’ to win the coach’s 11th career team championship in 29 years. The Jets program, varsity down to middle school, has collected 114 team trophies.
“No school outside of the Birmingham area has ever won the Indoor Gold Standard Middle School State Championship,’’ said Bell, who added that Bumpus and Mountain Brook each had between 30-50 competitors.
Ligon won the long jump in 16-02, setting both the CrossPlex middle school and meet records. She also set a meet record in the 60-meter hurdles (9.84) and won the 60 dash (8.17).
Also for James Clemens, Audriana Blakely won the 400-meters in 1:02.43. Her closest pursuer was three seconds behind. She also scored in the 800.
Other members of the team are Jada Bell, Aleena McGhee, Ashley Showalter, Ana Parker, Grace Williams and Sarah Shirley.