Class of 2021 Leading the Way this Season

As we near championship season, there are going to be many athletes who have their last state championship meet this month. When this season started, nobody knew what to expect, especially after not having an outdoor season last year. Nobody knew if it would get canceled again, so the senior athletes made sure to give their final year an amazing run. This article is dedicated to the top senior athletes in each event who pushed through the hard times of Covid-19 and made their senior year worth it.

On the sprint side of our state, there are nationally ranked athletes in almost every event. With Jehovan Rhetta (Parker) leading the ranks, being ranked top 50 in the nation in both the 100m and 200m boasting PRs of 10.50 and 21.34, he is a national class talent, and will do great things after graduation. Then there is also Antonio Crisco (Central- Phenix City), with a solid 48.86 400m, and ranked 44th in the nation so far this season. Following these two impressive athletes, Alabama has 12 seniors sub-11 in the 100m, 17 seniors sub 22.5 in the 200m, and 9 seniors sub 50 in the 400m. On hurdles, Tray Reynolds from Auburn has a 14.02 110mH PR, leading 13 athletes that are sub 15.5 in the event. Also with the 300mH, Chandler Love of Baker has the lead with a 37.84 PR, in front of 11 athletes sub 42, just showing how talented our senior sprint class is this year.

With the girl's sprints, you can not forget Chanice Spicer of Brewbaker Tech (committed to University of Alabama), ranked top 10 nationally in each sprint event, shows just how impressive her range is, and having PRs of 11.48, 23.44, and 54.45 in the 100m, 200m, and 400m. With her leading the charge of a deep field of female senior sprinters, there is 24 girls sub 13 in the 100, 20 girls sub 27 in the 200, and 17 girls sub 62 in the 400. Then with hurdles, Aaliyah Brown- Muhammad leads the 110mH with a 14.61, and another 17 senior girls have also broken 17 seconds in the event, and in the 300mH, Chakiya Plumber has a 42.89 second PR, and there are 12 women sub 50 in this event. There isn't another way of saying it, these women are talented and many of them will surely go on the do great things in the next stage of athletics in college.

Then with the men's field events, there is an amazing field of seniors from all over the state, with Malik Johnson ( Central- Phenix City) with a high jump PR of 6-8 and ranked 6th in the nation, and Justin Moore (Oxford High School) right there with him jumping an impressive 6-7. Then the Hewitt- Trussville sensation Julian Collins, future University of Alabama commit, with two top 3 national performances in the long jump and triple jump. There are 10 athletes just in the class of 21 that jump more than 22 feet in long jump, and12 that jump past 44 feet in triple jump. The depth there is in this class is just mind-boggling. In pole vault, Levi Arroyo (Hoover) vaults an astounding 16-4.75 and is also ranked 9th in the nation, leading the other 9 seniors that vault 13 feet of more. The seniors leading each throwing events is Kneeland Hibbett of Florence throwing the discus 163-11, ranking him 79th in the nation, Bestor McFadden of St. Paul's Episcopal throwing javelin 189-5, ranking him 13th in the nation, and Hagan LeDrew of Fairhope throwing shot 54-1.75, ranking him 45th in the nation. There is more than 10 people that throw discus over138 feet, javelin over 156 feet, and shot beyond 47 feet. Once again, as with sprints, the field events in the state of Alabama has become extremely competitive, with so many ranked athletes it is hard to keep count, and the graduating class this year has done an amazing job of helping create Alabama the powerhouse of track and field it is now.

In the women's field events, there is once again, crazy talented athletes. Grayson Scott of Mountain Brook has a high jump PR of 5-8, ranking her 4th in the nation. Also, Olivia Beard of St. Paul's Episcopal jumps 5-6 ranking her 9th. In long jump Kelsey Martin of Hewitt- Trussville jumps 19-0, leading a group of women that has 13 people over 16-6, and in triple jump, Jordan Bailey leads with a 37-7.75 with 14 people leaping past 33-10. Holly Foley is a pole vault specialist, going 12-10 and ranking her 20th in the nation, and has 12 seniors close behind vaulting over 9-0. Then on the throwing side of the field, Trinity Love of Opelika High School throws discus 125-6.5, along with 11 other women throwing the disc past 97 feet. Abigail Green of Huntsville (also a distance athlete) leads the seniors in javelin throwing 126-11, a top 60 ranking in the nation, along with 16 other girls throwing the jav over 100 feet. Lea Townsend of Hewitt throws shot 40-9, with 11 girls throwing over 35 feet. The women's side of the field is just as impressive as the men, and will stay that way thanks to these athletes keeping the younger generation striving for more.

Now, we get to distance. Presley Miles (Duke commit) and Hallie Porterfield lead the way on the women's side, and Hallie leads a deep field of 10 women under 2:25 in the 800 with a PR of 2:18, and also another 10 women under 5:30 in the 1600 with a PR of 5:05 (converted). Then Presley Miles leads he 3200 with an 11:01.03, among 7 other women sub 12 minutes. The women's distance side of the state is relatively young, with many more juniors and sophomores or younger than seniors, but these women helped inspire younger athletes to be the best versions of themselves, and they will continue to even after they graduate.

On the men's side of distance, it is a whole storybook. Just for a little background, a few years ago, if you ran 4:20/9:25 or faster in the 1600/3200, you would most likely be the fastest man in the state, but thanks to this class of distance athletes, there has been a take over in the nation's rankings in distance events. With Ethan Strand of Vestavia Hills, a decorated athlete from the 800 to the 5k in cross country leading the way, many people have followed, like Cooper Atkins (Auburn University commit), Brady Barton (Alabama commit), Walker Cole (Utah State commit), and Gabe Scales (Ole Miss commit), almost all having at least one state title under their belt. In the past 4 years, there have been countless state, section, and school records in our state with kids trying the chase Ethan. In the 800m there are 11 seniors sub 2, and Ethan leading with a 1:54.58. In the 1600, there are 7 seniors sub 4:20 (including converted mile) this year, compared to 2019s 2, and also has Ethan leading with a solid 4:06.46c. Then finally, in the 3200, there are 9 seniors sub 9:25 (including converted 2 mile) compared to 2019s 3. Ethan leads this event too, with an 8:56.77c, right in front of Cooper Atkins with a 9:02.70c. The Alabama distance squad has completely evolved in just the past two years. The majority of D1 recruits from Alabama come from a distance background. Once these men graduate, there will be big shoes to fill for the up and coming generation of runners.

As the state meet gets closer, all of these rankings could completely shift, just because of how competitive the state is in almost every aspect. With top athletes trading rankings almost every week, this state meet is definitely going to go down in history as one of the best, and these seniors mentioned have something to prove after having their junior season stripped from them.