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May 3, 2014

PREP TRACK AND FIELD: Hill, Pruitt, Guevara grab gold on Day 2 of state meet; Addison girls finish as 1A runner-up

GULF SHORES — After soaring over the pole vault bar at 13’3” during Saturday’s state track meet, climbing to the top of the podium was merely child’s play for Cullman’s Garrison Hill.

The freshman stood higher than any other Class 5A pole vaulter after clearing three more inches than his next-closest competitor. Hill’s high-flying feat added 10 points to the Bearcats’ team total and checked off an individual accomplishment he’d worked tiredlessly to fulfill since medaling at the state indoor meet back in early February.

Hill, who grabbed bronze at outdoor in 2013, added an extra 1’3” of flight in the three months that followed.

 “He was able to shoulder expectations and still go out there and win the championship as a freshman,” Cullman coach Trent Dean said. “We’re very happy for him, very excited for him. He’s going to really mature in the sport. He’s definitely got a bright future.”

With Hill working his magic and Kyle Norris coasting to his second silver in as many days, this time in the 2-mile, the Black and Gold finished the two-day event as the fourth-best team in 5A. They were just 4.5 points back of third place and 12.5 out of second.  

Addison’s Kayla Pruitt and Good Hope’s Elena Guevara were the other big individual winners from The Times’ coverage area on Day 2 of the season-ending meet.  

Pruitt picked up a 1A state title in the javelin with a heave of 120’11”, clearing Falkville’s Autumn Eddy by a slim seven inches. The sophomore, who was first in the high jump and fourth in the discus Friday, rounded out a spectacular state showing with a runner-up result in the shot put.

Bulldog coach Randy White thought Pruitt would continue to improve after reaching the podium at the indoor meet. Now that outdoor’s over for 2014, it turns out he was right — and he still only sees the sky as the limit for the rising superstar.

“I figure before she leaves, she’ll own two or three records,” White said. “She’s getting close.”

In addition to Pruitt’s massive contributions, Jessica Taylor (javelin) and Emee Baldwin (triple jump) hung silvers around their necks to help Addison wrap up the spring as the 1A state girls runner-up.

White didn’t even try to take all the credit for the successful display. Although he’s the Bulldogs’ track coach on paper, White wanted it known the school’s legendary volleyball coach, Pam Wilkins, is actually the one who trains all the ladies.

Wilkins is used to roping in blue trophies — she has six on the volleyball court since 2003 — but on Saturday, it was hard for anyone from Addison to complain about the alternate color they received instead.

“We’re hoping to win a blue one, one day, but we’ll start with a red,” White said. “I told the girls we’ll take the red this year, but let’s not make a habit of it. Blue’s our favorite color.”

Good Hope’s Guevara, the first wheelchair participant on the state stage in quite some time, made it a clean sweep with another couple of titles on Saturday. The junior zoomed through the 100-meter dash in 38.86 and the 200-meter dash in 1:23.

Guevara, who opened the meet with 3A golds in the shot put and 400-meter dash on Friday, was born with spina bifida and suffers from scoliosis. She hasn’t allowed either physical limitation to stand in the way of realizing her dreams since taking up the sport this spring.

Guevara didn’t need a quartet of state championships to serve as an inspiration to the masses. That doesn’t mean she won’t try to bring home four more next year before taking off for her preferred destination of Auburn University, where she hopes to continue her athletic career.

“I now believe I can do any sport that I set my mind to,” Guevara told The Times in March. “If people that can walk can do it, well, I can do it.”

Several other locals landed on the podium during Saturday’s state festivities.

Cold Springs’ Dakota Lott (girls 100-meter hurdles), St. Bernard’s Logan Ayers (girls 3,200-meter run) and Steven Mami (boys 3,200-meter run), and Addison’s Ronnie Willette (boys 1A shot put) were silver medalists.

Lott (300-meter hurdles), Cold Springs’ Payton Strawbridge (girls pole vault), and St. Bernard’s Leahrose Mami (girls 3,200-meter run) and Will Sciaroni (boys 800-meter run) snagged a bronze apiece.

Addison, Cold Springs, Good Hope, Hanceville, Holly Pond, St. Bernard and Vinemont competed in Selma, while Cullman and Fairview were represented in Gulf Shores.

See all local top-eight individual and relay results for Day 2 of the state track meet below:

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