Dadeville has been trying to once again make a name for itself on the state track and field scene, and that trend continued this year. 

The Tigers completed construction on their own track this year and hosted their first home meet this season. They then capped off the season with a third-place finish in the boys team standings at the AHSAA Class 3A Track and Field Championships in Cullman.

Relays were Dadeville’s biggest strengths this weekend, as it exceeded expectations and won gold in both the 4x100 and the 4x400.

In the 4x1, the Tigers were seeded just third and took fourth in the preliminaries. But after shaving nearly a second off their prelim time, Josh Taylor, Christian Nelson, Ladarrius Moore and Jamarion Wilkerson clocked in at 44.59 to take home the gold.

Wilkerson then teamed up with AJ Williams, Kyle Vines and Cam Tai to earn first place in the 4x4 with a time of 3:29.92.

“It was just awesome for them and nice to get some team recognition,” Dadeville coach Chris Hand said. “It was a great meet for them. I think if we could have two or three more athletes there, we could have gotten first or second overall.”

Dadeville had several others who climbed the podium as well. Taylor was a big standout for the Tigers. In addition to his gold on the 4x1, Taylor also took second in the 300 hurdles with a time of 40.02 seconds, and he was sixth in the 100 (11.63) and eighth in the 200 (25.42).

“Josh had a really great day,” Hand said.

Wilkerson also added to his medal collection by taking third overall in the 400 with a time of 51.63. He was just over two seconds out of first place.

In the field, Dadeville found a lot of success in the throws. Conner Fuller was the top finisher, taking the silver in the javelin. He hit a mark of 157-4. Jamauri Chislom took third in the shot put with a throw of 44-8, and he just missed the podium in the discus, taking fourth overall (124-11). 

On the girls side, Skye Foster had the highest finish for the Tigers, placing fifth in the long jump (15-8).

Dadeville wasn’t the only team that found a lot of success in Cullman, as Reeltown also collected four gold medals in the AHSAA Class 2A championships.

Despite not competing for most of the season, Eric Shaw doubled his gold medal collection by taking home three first-place finishes.

Shaw had a three-peat in the 110 hurdles, winning the event in 15.68 and beating out the competition by nearly a half second. Shaw was also first in the 300 hurdles, clocking in at 40.70.

“He had been coming to practice and helping the other hurdlers and giving instructions,” Reeltown coach Alana Garrard said. “Once he was released from physical therapy and released to run, he started going low speed and getting loose but once I saw him go over the hurdles again, I knew he was back.”

The hurdles weren’t the only top performances for Shaw, as he blew away the competition in the high jump. Shaw had the event won after he cleared 6-0, but he kept going and earned a personal best 6-4 for the gold medal.

Reeltown’s other gold medal was earned by newcomer Keon Cooper, who transferred from Booker T. Washington last season. As just a sophomore, Cooper hit a mark of 42-0 in the triple jump, edging out Elberta’s Drew Ray by just a quarter of an inch to win the event.

“Keon has done a really good job,” Garrard said. “We don’t practice our jumps a whole lot because it’s hard to practice them without a track, but his natural talent for the triple jump just really took off.”

Reeltown’s biggest standout on the girls side was Taniya Haynes, who earned a pair of bronze medals and also finished fourth in the triple jump (32-10). Exceeding expectations coming out of the preliminaries, Haynes captured third in both the 100 (12.83) and the 200 (26.68). 

“That was her PR in the 100, so she was real pleased with herself,” Garrard said. “In the 200, she had been working real hard about coming off the blocks and having a good start, and her work paid off. She hit her stride really well.”

With all three of their medalists coming back, the Rebels have high hopes for the future of their track program which is in only its third year.

“If everybody comes back that should come back, we have a good chance of placing at sectionals and ranking up a little higher for state next year,” Garrard said. “I was real pleased with how they performed this season.”

Over in Gulf Shores for the Class 6A championships, Benjamin Russell had just one competitor climb the podium. Ashley Walker took third place in the girls 3,200, clocking in at 11:39.18. BRHS coach Martae Wyckoff said Walker is committed to run cross country and track at Point University, an NAIA school in West Point, Georgia.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.