The Guntersville High School athletic program enjoys a proud tradition of producing State championship teams. On Saturday, the Wildcat boys indoor track team added another trophy to that legacy.
Guntersville won the Class 4A/5A title in the 49th AHSAA Indoor State Track and Field Championships at Birmingham’s CrossPlex. It was the first State crown for any GHS boys track and field team.
The Wildcats finished with 57 points. Scottsboro was the runner-up with 49 points while Central-Tuscaloosa was third with 46.
“On Friday, we started out knowing that it should come down to us and Scottsboro for the title,” GHS head coach Chris Bashaw said.
“We only had three events on Friday in which scores could be counted. Those were pole vault, 3,200 [meters] and 4x200 [meter] relay.
“Sam Moultrie ran to a fifth-place finish with a 9:58, getting us on the board with four points. After the 3,200, we had guys in the 60 dash prelims and 60 hurdle prelims.”
Zach Godwin and Myles Williamson both made the finals in the 60-meter hurdles.
Friday’s final event featured Guntersville’s outstanding 4x200-meter relay team of Williamson, RonDarius McCrary, Godwin and Leighton Griep.
“These guys have battled with Central-Tuscaloosa all year long for the win in meets,” Bashaw said. “I had projected us to finish second in this race, and we edged out Woodlawn for the second-place finish.
“Leaving day one, we had scored the exact amount of points I had projected for us, but Scottsboro had lost 12 points I had projected for them.”
Guntersville stood in sixth place heading into Saturday’s final round.
“On Saturday morning we started out with Logan Graham in the shot put,” Bashaw said. “Logan got us off to a great start with a runner-up finish.”
The first running event was the 400-meter dash. Williamson was the No. 1 seed while McCrary was the No. 1 seed in the second-fastest heat.
“RonDarius ran an excellent race, and at the moment was in second place,” Bashaw said. “The fast heat toed the line and it lived up to its expectation.
“Myles battled Demontae Wilson from Central-Tuscaloosa all the way to the line. Myles edged him out with a lean and was declared the winner. A few moments later we found that they had disqualified Myles for a lane violation. This had RonDarius finishing fourth overall.
“Saturday was a day filled with emotions. Our team went from a high with Myles’ race to a huge valley within five minutes.
“We had a group discussion about the events and how we were going to finish this meet and accomplish what we had set out to do.
“All of our guys either ran cross country in the fall or played football. Neither team finished how we had wanted. Once again, we had the opportunity to determine the outcome.”
Moultrie came up big for the Wildcats in the 1,600 meters, running a 4:38 to score one point.
“Cavin Collie came out and high jumped for us and made a huge impact,” Bashaw said. “He tied the school record with a jump of 6 feet, 2 inches and finished as State runner-up. We won [the State title] by eight points, and Cavin scored eight points.”
Godwin delivered for the Wildcats in the 60-meter hurdles, finishing as the State runner-up after being seeded fourth all year long.
The final event of the meet was the 4x400-meter relay. The Wildcats took a two-point lead over Scottsboro into the race.
“We have ran well enough all year to be the favorite once again,” Bashaw said. “Knowing that all we had to do was to beat Scottsboro, I told our guys ‘same team as the 4x200’ and to run smart and just finish the race ahead of Scottsboro.
“The comment from the guys was, ‘Coach, we are going to beat Central-Tuscaloosa.’
“All year long we had RonDarius first or fourth. I told the guys that we were going to change the lineup, because Central probably knew who was going to run where.
“Zach Godwin started for us and ran a great first leg with a good handoff to Leighton Griep. Handoffs had been good all year, but now it was going to be a difference maker. Leighton ran a PR [personal record] in his leg of the 4x4 and handed off to RonDarius.
“Central was expecting Myles to be third, but this was the big change. RonDarius ran a PR on his leg like Leighton and created some space as Myles got the baton.
“At this point, I was confident that we were about to not only win the race, but lock up the title.”
The team ran a 3:29.43, which is believed to be a Guntersville record, whether indoor or outdoor.
Scottsboro finished fifth in the 4x400.
“It was such a joyous moment,” Bashaw said. “Looking up at our team in the stands and parents celebrating together, shedding tears, was one moment I’ll never forget. These guys have such a great relationship with Central- Tuscaloosa’s relay that everyone was excited about the finish.”
Scottsboro was the defending 4A/5A State champion.
Guntersville finished ninth in the State Meet a year ago.
“I can’t thank the Lord enough for the opportunity to coach these young men,” Bashaw said. “They overcame adversity and seized the moment.
“The years I spent with [former GHS coach] Randall Taylor, we came up close to the title a few times with the guys but never got over the hump.
“This meet will go down as one of the most exciting meets I’ve ever coached. These guys bought in to the program as freshmen and sophomores. Years ago I told them that it won’t be easy but it’ll be worth it. I believe it has all paid off for them now.
“Now we gear up to make a run at the outdoor title. Last year we finished third, only three points out of second.”