E.A. Sports Today

Bulldogs make splash

Anniston wins boys, girls long jump at state track meet; both teams in the top five after first day

By East Alabama Sports Today

GULF SHORES — The runners and jumpers on the Anniston track team have told coach Lisa Howard many times this year their goal was to become the best boys team she ever coached. So far, they’re making good on that promise.

At the end of Thursday’s first day of the Class 4A-7A state meet, the Bulldogs have 16 points and are third in Class 5A, behind Alabama Christian (22) and defending champion St. Paul’s (19).

Tae Miller won long jump gold that had eluded him the previous two years (22-6) and Zebedee Lunsford finished third in the 1,600 with a personal best time (4:34.41).

On the girls side, Carsheuna Curry won the long jump with a personal best 17-8½ for all 10 of fourth-place Anniston’s first-day points.

“It’s been a great day,” Howard said. “Right now, they’re pretty pumped up.

“The boys team has been saying they wanted to be the best boys team I ever had; that’s what Zebedee keeps saying. Overall, attitude and work wise I think they’re doing a good job.”

Among the other Calhoun County teams at the meet, White Plains is tied for fourth in 4A boys and Jacksonville is 11th in 4A girls. The Class 1A-3A meet in Cullman begins Friday.

Miller’s win in the long jump was a big relief to the senior. Each of the last two years the Calhoun County champion went into the meet with the best jump in the classification and came up short.

He was hurt his sophomore year and last year admittedly didn’t jump well.

“This year I kept everything routine and finally came out on top,” he said. “It made me feel real good.”

Miller, who recently committed to play football at Northeast Mississippi CC, had extra incentive to win. He has dedicated this season to the memory of Broderick Taylor Jr., a close friend he lost to a violent death in October. His friend was on his mind Thursday.

“When the guy in front of me jumped 21-7 and I already had 22-4 I pointed to the sky, looked at my coach and said ‘I did it,’ then I jumped again and got the 22-6.”

Curry, meanwhile, admitted her win came as somewhat of a shock. She has been jumping all year with a hairline fracture in her left shin, and was seeded seventh in the event.

This was the first time she jumped multiple times in a while. She jumped only once at the County Meet and once that counted at Sectionals. The first time she jumped Thursday she scratched, but jumped into the lead with her next jump at 17-3 ½. Her winning jump was a personal best.

“I was actually shocked,” she said. “I was predicted like seventh; no way I’m winning this. But I was going to try my hardest and go out with a bang. I really wanted to jump 17 today. If I could, I could get in the final. I was shocked. I’m glad to go out with a bang.”

Among other Calhoun County athletes scoring points, Jacksonville’s Jazzmyn McClendon finished sixth in the 4A girls high jump (4-8), White Plains’ Matthew Moore was tied for fourth in the 4A boys pole vault (11-0), teammate Gabe Sanford tied for seventh in the pole vault (10-6) and Eli Hightower was fifth in the javelin (152-5).

McClendon was the second-fastest qualifier in the girls 100; the Golden Eagles’ 4×100 relay team qualified fourth (Saks was sixth). Oxford’s Laquavious Ford qualified in the 6A 100

Anniston has another chance to move closer to being Howard’s best as the 4A-7A meet continues. Among the running events, the Bulldogs qualified their 4×100 relay team with the second fastest time in the preliminaries. Jeremy McCants qualified in the 100.

“We’ve been with (Howard) so long,” Miller said. “We’re the first team to win county and runnerups twice in sectionals, so it’s kind of reality (to become her best boys team). Right now we’re trying to win first place and have a strong chance to bring home that blue trophy.”

On the cover, Anniston’s Carsheuna Curry (L) and Tae Miller won their respective 5A long jumps at the state meet Thursday. (Photos by Kristen Stringer/Krisp Pics Photography)

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