Heading into this year's Class 1A-3A State Track and Field Championship, it was hard to imagine Will Faulk could top his brilliant 2012 performance in Selma.
But with a second-straight sweep in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and gold in a relay race, consider it done.
Think a nagging hamstring injury could slow down this St. Bernard senior? Not a chance. Faulk shook off the strain and added titles in the half- and 2-mile runs on Saturday to the pair he collected in the 1-mile and 4x800-meter relay races just one day earlier.
“He had a target on his back this entire season. A lot of kids would’ve buckled under that kind of pressure,” Saint coach William Calvert said. “But he showed a lot of poise and a lot of character to accomplish an amazing feat.”
No runner-up came within 5 seconds of Faulk in his first three gold-medal runs, but Donoho’s George Mcmillan tested the Saint all the way to the finish line in the 800-meter race.
After the Falcon set the pace for the first trip around the track, Faulk made his move when the bell rang for the last lap, taking the lead and staving off multiple challenges from Mcmillan. Faulk crossed the line for the victory in 2:03.19, just 59-tenths of a second before Mcmillan.
“That 800 was a battle,” Calvert said. “The title definitely did not come easy.”
Despite bringing only four boys to the two-day competition, the Saints still managed to corral a fourth-place finish. Considering Faulk had his hand in 40 of the team’s 52 points over Friday and Saturday, Calvert had no problem admitting he’ll miss the senior’s contributions in 2014 and beyond.
“I’m proud of Will. He’s a great kid of great character, and he’s had a great high school career,” the coach said. “I put his accomplishments up there with very few in my coaching career. He’s one of the greatest athletes I’ve ever coached and definitely one of the greatest competitors. I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do at the next level.”
Clay Campbell wouldn’t know the definition of rest even during a friendly exhibition meet, so it was no surprise the Cold Springs coach was wiped out by the end of the season’s final competition. He ended up touting two 2A state champions and a third-place team finish by his girls, however, so he wasn’t about to complain.
“I am tired,” Campbell said before letting out a sigh. “Today’s been like five or six one-point basketball games all in the same day. It’s been fun, though.”
Katie Self will most likely never forget her final day as a member of the Eagle track and field team. The senior standout thrower went out in style, claiming the title in the shot put (30’7.5”) and finishing fifth in the discus — even after entering the discus as the top seed and the shot put as the fifth.
“She is another one of those great young ladies,” Campbell said. “She’s deserving of what she got.”
Christian Wilson was the proud owner of Cold Springs’ other individual championship, besting the field in the high jump by clearing the bar at 4’8”.
“She did a super job for her team,” Campbell said.
The Lady Eagles will only lose two seniors — Self and Mckenzie Dunn — to graduation later this month, leading Campbell to believe his squad will be back in contention at this time next season. Cold Springs’ 86 points was just five back of LaFayette for second and 24 behind 2A champ Montgomery Academy.
“I’m just as proud as can be of them and their parents,” the coach said of his squad. “They’ve had such a great effort this year.”
The chances of Vinemont’s boys competing for the 3A championship took a critical hit when Tyler Boland was forced to bow out early in the day after twisting his knee on his second triple jump attempt. The multi-sport superstar was heavily favored in the triple jump, was practically a lock to medal in the long jump and had qualified for the finals in the 100- and 200-meter runs on Friday.
Boland’s single triple jump attempt of 40’9.5” was still enough for a seventh-place result.
“The silver lining is he’s a junior,” coach Robin Netherton said of Boland. “It’s not the way anybody would want to end their season. He’s just really tore up.”
Vinemont’s boys didn’t leave Selma empty-handed, though. Hayden Shutt earned the pole vault title on Friday, and freshman T.J. Steele placed in four events.
“We had a good meet, but we expected the runner-up trophy,” the coach said. “That’s the reality of the sport.”
See below for local top-eight individual and relay results from Day 2 of each respective state meet:
St. Bernard boys
Will Faulk, first in 800-meter run (2:03.19) and first in 3,200-meter run (10:12.18)
Seamus Russell, fourth in 3,200-meter run (10:42.44)
Steven Mami, sixth in 3,200-meter run (10:57.98)
St. Bernard girls
Jaden Edge, third in 3,200-meter run (12:20.49)
Ayleana Mami, fifth in 3,200-meter run (12:38.36)
Logan Ayers, sixth in 800-meter run (2:35.87)
Jessica Taylor, second in javelin (114’1”) and third in 100-meter hurdles (17.10)
Kayla Robinson, third in javelin (96’8”)
Kayren Ballard, fifth in shot put (29’.75”)
Emee Baldwin, seventh in triple jump (30’8.25”)
Taylor Erb, eighth in javelin (90’4”)
Jesse Seales, fourth in 110-meter hurdles (16.97)
Ronnie Willette, fourth in shot put (40’8”)
Dillon Early, fifth in 300-meter hurdles (44.80)
Seth Robinson, sixth in long jump (19’10.5”)
Kurtis Robinson, Tony Brown, Jake Bryson and Stephen Bryson were eighth in the 4x400-meter relay (3:49.87)
Cold Springs girls
Katie Self, first in shot put (30’7.5”) and sixth in discus (77’5”)
Christian Wilson, first in high jump (4’8”)
Dakota Lott, second in 100-meter hurdles (17.68)
Cassi Still, third in 3,200-meter run (12:36.62) and eighth in 800-meter run (2:41.87)
Courtney Dean, third in high jump (4’8”) and third in pole vault (8’)
Emily Campbell, fourth in 3,200-meter run (12:55.14)
Alexis Smith, fifth in pole vault (7’)
Third in 4x400-meter relay (4:39.22; runners not listed)
Courtney Dean, Hanna Harbison, Kaleigh Merring and Hannah Watson were eighth in the 4x100-meter relay (58.34)
Cold Springs boys
Kramer Crider, third in 3,200-meter run (10:38.39) and sixth in 800-meter run (2:11.20)
Vince Stewart, third in triple jump (42’.5”)
Austin Richard, eighth in pole vault (9’)
Chris Smith, second in 200-meter dash (23.54) and fourth in long jump (20’5.5”)
Eric Flanigan, Torrey Green, C. Smith and Kody Smith were eighth in the 4x100-meter relay (46.06)
T.J. Steele, third in 800-meter run (2:04.04) and fourth in 300-meter hurdles (43.41)
Tyler Boland, seventh in triple jump (40’9.5”)
Good Hope boys
Justin Turner, third in 300-meter hurdles (43.20) and T-seventh in high jump (5'6”)
Alex Pettus, fourth in discus (90’)
Holly Pond girls
Melissa Clingman, seventh in 300-meter hurdles (51.73)
Holly Pond boys
Matt Cahoon, T-seventh in high jump (5'6”)
Mark Gomez, second in 3,200-meter run (10:02.89)
Garrison Hill, T-third in pole vault (12’)
Nicholas Fillinger, eighth in 3,200-meter run (10:21.05)
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.