HE’S ROLLING WITH THE TIDE: Red Level’s Joel Phillips inks LOI with Alabama

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 23, 2019

Red Level High School senior track and field star Joel Phillips signed his National Letter of Intent to continue his track career at the University of Alabama.

“It feels great,” Phillips said of signing with Alabama. “It’s a blessing to be a part of the Alabama track and field family. It’s been a journey. A lot of hard work and time spent away friends to be able to go to the track and train.”

Phillips turned heads throughout the season with his times in the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles.

Recently, Phillips won the AHSAA Class 1A-3A state championship in the 110-meter hurdles.

“Winning state was a goal of mine this year,” Phillips said. “Last year, I was runner up. This year, I set a goal to win state. Everyday at practice I would come in and work hard every practice. My coaches helped every step of the way.”

Before the start of the 110-meter hurdles, Phillips said one of his opponents was trying to psych him out.

“Going in, we knew it was going to come down to us two,” Phillips said. “Me and this dude from Linden had been going back and forth all year. He would get a personal record one week and then I would get one the next week. Before the race started, he looked over at me and said, ‘I’m going to take the 110 and you can have the 300.’ I didn’t even acknowledge what he said. It rained the night before and the track was wet. I hate running on a wet track, but I didn’t let it bother me. I got down on my blocks, the gun fires and the first three hurdles we were neck and neck. About the fourth hurdle, he started to pull away from me. Something happened to him and he hit hurdles seven, eight and nine. I didn’t mess up at all. I was running the best race I had run all year. On the last hurdle, he landed awkwardly and stumbled. I ran my best race and I ran through it.”

His coach, Tony Ingram, said Phillips earned the gold.

“He says the kid stumbled a bit at the end,” Ingram said. “He might have a little, but I think Joel just reached down deep and found something extra.”

Phillips said he knew he won the race, but some confusion nearly gave the gold medal to the wrong runner.

“I crossed the finish line first,” Phillips said. “I knew I beat him so I ran some more, bent over and started crying because I knew I had accomplished my goal. I looked up the stands and my dad was standing up there. I held a one up on my hand and he shook his head no and held up two. I walked into the infield and just started crying. I knew I won, but the clock said I came in second. The coach from T.R. Miller, Brantley and Georgiana said that I needed to find my coach and protest. The T.R. Miller coach said if your coach doesn’t have the $25 to protest, I’ve got it right here. I found coach (Tony) Ingram and he went to the head official and once they looked at the photo finish it was reversed. That was nerve wracking.”

There was still confusion when they got to the podium and they tried to give the gold medal to the Linden runner, but it was Phillips who came home with the gold.