Sheldon Lewis is going out on top.
For the second-straight year, Hanceville’s strong man opened the Class 1A-3A Track and Field State Championship with a pair of 3A titles in the discus and shot put — and it wasn’t even close.
The senior’s discus heave of 151’10” was an astonishing 16’8” further than the silver medalist’s, while Lewis’ shot put launch of 48’10.25” was nearly 4.5 feet in front of the runner-up’s.
“He’s had a pretty outstanding athletic career,” Bulldog coach Danny Miller said of Lewis, who also served as a bruising fullback and middle linebacker. “It was a heckuva way for him to go out his senior year.”
Lewis wasn’t the only local winner in Selma, with St. Bernard grabbing two 1A golds and Vinemont snagging one in 3A on the first day of competition.
Saint senior Will Faulk had a successful start to his campaign for a second consecutive sweep in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs after besting the field in the 1,600-meter run.
Despite nursing a slight hamstring strain since sectionals, Faulk turned in a 1-mile time of 4:35.10. He then turned around and helped St. Bernard add a championship in the 4x800-meter relay, overcoming a five-second deficit at the start of his anchor leg to help the foursome finish in 8:45.94.
The other relay members were Seamus Russell, Sam Shin and Steven Mami. Faulk, Russell and Shin are all seniors.
“We didn’t know what to expect, but we were elated that he had no issues in the 1,600,” Saint coach William Calvert said on the status of Faulk’s hamstring. “He’s running pretty confident right now, and we’re hoping he’ll be able to repeat in the other two tomorrow.”
St. Bernard’s boys will enter the second and final day in third, 19 points behind first-place Falkville (43).
While Lewis, Faulk and the Saints didn’t have to sweat too much on their way to titles, Vinemont’s Hayden Shutt couldn’t celebrate his pole vault championship until his very last attempt. The Eagle laid it all on the line, clearing the bar at 11 feet to claim the crown all to himself.
“He pole vaulted a PR in the pouring down rain after two misses,” Vinemont coach Robin Netherton said. “It was absolutely clutch. If he would’ve missed, he would’ve been sixth. He came through for our team in a big way.”
The Eagles’ day almost didn’t end up so peachy. At one point, Cullman County co-MVP Tyler Boland was temporarily disqualified from the entire competition after a judge spotted him wearing headphones in a restricted area. A different judge had told the track superstar the headwear was OK in that location, though, leading Netherton to file an appeal that ultimately resulted in Boland’s reinstatement.
“It was a miscommunication, but it would’ve been a huge loss for our team,” the coach said.
Cold Springs’ boys closed out the day in fourth in 2A with 20 points, nine back of co-leaders Montgomery Academy and Altamont.
Addison, Cold Springs, Good Hope, Hanceville, Holly Pond, St. Bernard and Vinemont were all represented in Selma, while Fairview, Cullman and West Point were in the mix at the Class 4A-6A State Championship in Gulf Shores.
The Bearcat boys were tied for ninth but only trail first-place St. Paul’s by 13 points.
See below for local top-eight individual and relay results from Day 1 of each respective state meet:
Summer Hinton, T-second in high jump (4’8”)
Jessica Taylor, third in 100-meter hurdle prelim (17.19) to advance to Saturday’s final
Taylor Robinson, seventh in discus (90’)
Jesse Seales, second in high jump (6’2”) and third in 110-meter hurdle prelim (16.67) to advance to Saturday’s final
Seales, Seth Robinson, Tony Brown and Dustin Bladow were fifth in the 4x100-meter relay prelim (46.14) to qualify for Saturday’s final
St. Bernard boys
Will Faulk, first in 1,600-meter run (4:35.10)
Seamus Russell, fifth in 1,600-meter run (4:56.04)
Faulk, Steven Mami, Russell and Sam Shin were first in the 4x800-meter relay (8:45.94)
St. Bernard girls
Jaden Edge, third in 1,600-meter run (5:37.15)
Ayleana Mami, fifth in 1,600-meter run (5:54.81)
Logan Ayers, Edge, Mami and Morgan Matz were second in the 4x800-meter relay (10:48.12)
Cold Springs girls
Dakota Lott, second in 100-meter dash prelim (17.60) to qualify for Saturday’s final; and seventh in triple jump (28’.25”)
Cassi Still, fourth in 1,600-meter run (5:52.81)
Emily Campbell, sixth in 1,600-meter run (6:04.38)
Josie Stanley, seventh in 400-meter dash (1:05.94)
Katie Self, eighth in javelin (80’8”)
Katie Huffstutler, eighth in 1,600-meter run (6:11.65)
Campbell, Huffstutler, Stanley and Still were third in the 4x800-meter relay (11:15.20)
Courtney Dean, Hanna Harbison, Kaleigh Merring and Hannah Watson were eighth in 4x100-meter relay prelim (58.27) to qualify for Saturday’s final
Cold Springs boys
Vince Stewart, third in long jump (20’.5”)
Kramer Crider, fifth in 1,600-meter run (4:55.00)
Sheldon Lewis, first in discus (151’10”) and first in shot put (48’10.25)
Chris Smith, sixth in 200-meter dash prelim (23.45) to qualify for Saturday’s final
Eric Flanigan, Torrey Green, C. Smith and Kody Smith were fourth in 4x100-meter relay prelim (45.37) to qualify for Saturday’s final
Hayden Shutt, first in pole vault (11’)
T.J. Steele, fourth in 400-meter dash (52.83)
Kurtis Brawner, seventh in discus (118’7”)
Tyler Boland, seventh in 200-meter dash prelim (23.46) to qualify for Saturday’s final; and eighth in 100-meter dash prelim (11.46) to qualify for Saturday’s final
Seventh in the 4x800-meter relay (9:01.25; runners not listed)
Taylor Randall, fourth in javelin (97’8”)
Holly Pond girls
Megan Barksdale, fifth in 400-meter dash (1:03.50)
Mykenzie Heaton, sixth in long jump (14’8”)
Holly Pond boys
Chris Whitehead, eighth in javelin (136’2”)
Savannah L. Smith, third in javelin (109’6”)
Mark Gomez, fifth in 1,600-meter run (4:36.60)
Chris Johnson, eighth in shot put (41’11”)
Stephen McNeal, Gomez, Devan Hall and Matthew Huddleston were third in the 4x800-meter relay (8:26.58)
% The Times' sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.