The Lady Bulldogs took first at the sectional meet, scoring 210 points to best host Lincoln by more than 50 points. Anniston’s boys placed third behind champion Lincoln and runner-up St. Clair County.
Both squads are strong in the sprints with the likes of senior Fredricka Jordan, The Star’s 2011 Girls Calhoun County Track and Field Athlete of the Year, and other rising stars like Andre Patton on their rosters.
They’ll need first-place finishes in the dashes and improved performances in other events to have a shot at a state title.
“We need all the points we can get,” Anniston coach Lisa Howard said. “Our distance team, they’re doing much better. Our girls have the second-fastest time in the 4x800, (3,200-meter relay).”
That team is comprised of senior Brittany Stansil, the individual winner in the 800 at the sectional meet with a time of 2:37.80, and Rakeema Najiy, Apryl Lewis and LaVisha Cannon.
Lewis placed first in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and Najiy won the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs. Jasmine Head won the long jump.
Sophomore Quanetria Bolton has been a big addition for the Lady Dawgs and should help score some points in the field events. She placed first in shot put in the sectional meet with a throw of 38-01.
“She has the leading throw right now in the shot put,” Howard said of Bolton, who also won a Calhoun County title in the event. “At first, she didn’t want to do the discus and the javelin. But she’s a competitor. She wants to go and take all three. So, that’s her goal, going down and she’s really been working hard.”
Both of Anniston’s 400-meter relay squads are strong as well.
Anchored by Patton, the boys team which took a sectional title with a time of 43.54, also includes Vashard Wilson, DaMonta Miller and Fred Jordan. The girls team will slide De’ara Welch into the lineup after an injury sidelined one of the team’s members. However, it’s an exchange the team has worked on before, Howard said.
Patton will run in the 100 and 200-meter dashes as well as a leg of the 1,600-meter relay.
He emerged on the scene as a junior a year ago. He was named a member of The Star’s All-Calhoun County team as a junior after placing second in the 200 at the Calhoun County meet behind former Saks standout Brandon Johnson, last year’s boys Calhoun County Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Patton was disqualified after a false start in the 100 at the county meet but took home a title in the 200 with a time of 22.39. He also helped the Bulldogs 1,600-meter relay to a win in dramatic fashion.
This year, he said, he’s built more muscle in his legs and upper body which has helped his takeoff time out of the blocks as well as his endurance.
He showed and proved that at the sectional meet, capturing a title in the 200, his best event, running a 22.75.
He and Wilson could be among the best in Class 4A in the 100. Patton beat his teammate out for the sectional crown with an 11.54 in a photo finish.
“I feel like I can run a whole lot faster than I did last week,” Patton said.
Nick Birdsong covers prep sports for The Star. He can be reached at 256-235-3575. Follow him on Twitter @birds_word.