Red Level junior blasts way to state title
Red Level High School junior John Lee captured the 2016 Class 1A 100-meter dash state championship Saturday in Cullman.
“John had a great meet,” Red Level track and field coach Heath Watkins said. “Winning state in the 100-meter is a really big deal, and I’m not sure it has really settled in on that he won.”
After Lee placed the fastest qualifying time in all of Class 1A in the sectional meet, Lee remained out front at the state meet with two more strong races.
“It felt pretty good,” Lee said of the championship run. “After being so close last year, it was like I could almost taste it.”
On Friday, Lee placed first in the 100-meter dash preliminary heat with a time of 11.19. Lee kept pace with pack for the first few meters, but then went into high gear and put a lot of space between him the next runner.
In the 200-meter dash preliminary on Friday, Lee cruised out to quick lead and kept the motor going for a first place finish in the heat. Maplesville’s Terrance Dunlap turned in the only time that was faster than Lee’s.
With the preliminary runs in the books, Lee set his sights on the Saturday’s finals.
First up for Lee on Saturday was the 100-meter dash finals.
“Going in, I felt good and I knew I had a chance to win it,” Lee said. “I had a good take off and overall it was just a good clean race.”
Lee and Dunlap quickly separated themselves from the rest of the pack.
The pair remained neck-and-neck for the first 95 meters before Lee found another gear and inched past Dunlap for the Class 1A state championship.
Lee then went to compete in the boys long jump event where he would place fifth in the state.
After a few good attempts to start the long jump event, Lee tweaked a hamstring and still had to run in the 200-meter dash finals.
“I really thought the whole meet went well, even with the hurt leg,” Lee said. “We had a good meet as a team. I really thought the young guys did a great job.”
The hamstring clearly hampered Lee in the 200-meter dash, as he was only able to place seventh.
“It’s really impressive what John has been able to do,” Watkins said. “We don’t even have a track from him to practice on. I can’t really express how much this does for our program.”
In other Class 1A action, Red Level’s Joe Arnold advanced to the finals in the 110-meter hurdle event on Saturday after an eighth place finish in Friday’s preliminary event.
Arnold’s time of 18.90 on Friday gave him the final spot in Saturday’s 110-meter hurdle championship event.
Arnold improved his time to 18.06 on Saturday, which was good enough for a fifth place finish in Class 1A.
In the 300-meter hurdle finals, Arnold placed 12th with a time of 45.23.
Red Level seventh graders Brody Ingram and Jake Jeter finished 15th and 18th, respectfully, in the Class 1A 3,200-meter run finals.
Ingram finished with a time of 11:57.69 and Jeter came in with a time of 12:08.18.
“We have some great athletes here,” Watkins said. “Right now, they just don’t have anything to practice on. We are looking into some grants to build a track, but we really need the help of the community. Hopefully, with John bring the championship back to Red Level, we can get some more people interested in the program.”