Clearing all obstacles... Senior Dixon Davis clears the second hurdle with precision, quickly sprinting towards the next. With each strong step, he kept his soon-to-be victory in mind.
Clearing all obstacles… Senior Dixon Davis clears the second hurdle with precision, quickly sprinting towards the next. With each strong step, he kept his soon-to-be victory in mind.
Jillian Surla

Fairhope dominates Baldwin County Track and Field Championship

Sprinting towards success

by Jillian Surla, editor-in-chief

FAIRHOPE, Ala.—At 1 p.m. on April 13, Fairhope athletes left an incredible mark at the Baldwin County Track & Field Championship held at Founders Park and dominated the competition, placing first for the third consecutive year. With outstanding performances across various events, Fairhope showcased its athletic prowess and determination, garnering admiration from spectators and competitors alike.

Facing destiny… Junior Ty Watkins races against Daphne, Fairhope’s rival school. The relay team won first with 42.58. “He is like the second coach out there when I’m not there because he is inside my brain and knows what I want to do every day,” Obie Watkins said, “so him and I have a relationship where we can talk about things and he’ll perform it for me and help them get better with it.” (Jillian Surla)

Immediately following each event, the top three contestants reported to the awards podium situated in the middle of the field to receive their trophies and medals.

“For some reason, I didn’t feel nervous like I always do,” said junior Jahaven Johnson. “I felt like it was just home turf, so I didn’t feel any type of nerves.”

In the boys’ division, standout performances were aplenty. Junior Ty Watkins blazed to victory in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes, showcasing his speed and agility he cultivated over his two years in the team. Senior Ben Klapp, last year’s county MVP, dominated the 400-meter dash, while senior Dixon Davis displayed excellence in the hurdles, clinching second in the 110-meter hurdles and first in the 300-meter hurdles.

“We all have a different way of training because we all have different events. So, basically,we just go in—we all have—we go through the same thing that we’ve been doing all year long,” said Obie Walkins, head coach. “We’re not going to change anything. We’ll make tweaks of things, but it’ll mostly be the same.”

The relay events saw Fairhope’s teams excel, with the boys’ 4×800-meter relay team claiming the top spot with a stellar performance of 8:37.04. Additionally, senior Walker Rux jumped to victory in the high jump and secured second place in the triple jump, while junior Ethan Shareck impressed in javelin, gaining first place.

Up and over… Senior Mackenzie Hartzog soars to new heights, clinching gold once again with an impressive pole vault of 9-6. When the announcer called for the winners to stand at the podiums, she rushed over to claim her medal. (Jillian Surla)

“Honestly, I’d say we’re like the hardest working track team ever,” Johnson said. “Before we had our track and all that, we had nothing. We were over there by the football fields running and junk, and we still put out good times and metals and junk. Honestly, I feel like this year and next year, we’re gonna be the top.”

Not to be outdone, Fairhope’s girls’ team delivered exemplary performances, winning third overall. Freshman Takiera McCovery showcased her talent in sprints, securing second place in both the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. The girls’ 4×800-meter relay team stormed to victory with an impressive 10:25.44, showcasing their endurance and teamwork.

“At the beginning of the season, I didn’t think the girls would be as strong as they are now, but they put in the work and they worked hard,” Watkins said. “Every single day, they did everything we asked them to do and they got better. With a little success, they got even better because they saw that they could actually do it. So, they’re putting in a lot of hard work everyday.”

Senior Mackenzie Hartzog continued her dominance in the pole vault, claiming first place for the third consecutive year, while senior Ryleigh Godwin displayed versatility by securing first place in the javelin and third place in the pole vault.

“[Hartzog has] always found a way to win, even when some days I’m over there yelling at her ‘we gotta win this.’ She’s done—she’s doing a great job, as far as the girls’ side,” Watkins said. “[The girls] just keep getting better, and better, and better every year.”

Watkins expressed his discontent with losing his seniors and said “the next couple of years are going to be hard” because of this loss. He said his focal players—Ben Klapp, Walker Rux, Lane Watson, Ryleigh Godwin and Mackenzie Hartzog—will leave a hole in the team after they graduate. But, he believes they will continue to do great things after high school.

“I’m gonna lose so many key guys, which have helped me with this season that we’ve had,” Watkins said. “But, as far as preparation, as far as who I’m losing, as far as all the other stuff, those are the guys, I guess the backbone of the team and they make sure that we are prepared.”

Between events, athletes and attendees treated themselves to food truck delicacies and relaxed under cooling tents.

“They’ve gotten better—performed better—every year,” Watkins said. “I know that with all the points that we’ve earned in the past couple of meets, it makes them hungry for more championships and more ways to win.”

Overall, Fairhope’s athletes demonstrated resilience, skill and teamwork throughout the championship, cementing their school’s reputation as a track and field powerhouse. Their achievements are a testament to their dedication and hard work both on and off the field, and they serve as an inspiration to the entire Fairhope community.

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