By WILL HIGHTOWER
As a member of the Alabama 6A division, Mountain Brook athletics is at the highest level in the state of Alabama. For example, the boys and girls golf teams must compete against 56 teams for the state championship. The tennis teams must play against 57 teams. And the track team has to run against 47 teams.
Yet last month, these teams proved they were all number one. Both golf teams and the girls’ tennis and track teams won state championships in the month of May, adding to two earlier titles in wrestling and cross country to give Mountain Brook seven state championships this year.
You can chalk it up, as Vestavia and Hoover residents do, to Mountain Brook being a “golf and tennis school only.” Or you can realize that Mountain Brook lays claim to first-class coaching, talent and teamwork that combine to make all these teams the best at what they do.
The girls tennis team began the fun, beating rival Vestavia to win state. The win
dethroned the Rebels, who had previously won four titles in a row. The girls were the favorite headed into the tournament and had the championship safely in hand by the second day of action – yet didn’t lose their focus.
“At some point in the morning round of the second day, we knew we had enough points to win, but not one time did any of the girls come up to any of us to ask if we had,” Head Coach Susan Farlow said. “I was pretty impressed with how intent they were on finishing strong, regardless of the point count.”
Carlee Petro finished second in the singles finals, and she and teammate Lauren Cohen finished third in doubles. Cohen finished fourth in singles, and twin sister Sara Cohen finished sixth. Senior Elizabeth Lucas was defeated in singles play, and Lucas and Farris Ann Luce were defeated in doubles.
“We have some very talented players,” Farlow said. “But that’s not always what determines a championship team. There was no ‘special treatment’ of any one key player because those players did not allow or expect it. These girls all bonded as a team and supported and encouraged each other every step of the way.”
The girls track team then gave Mountain Brook High School its second State Championship of the month by eking out a victory over Hoover in the last race of the state meet.
The girls 4×400 race was the last event of the state track meet, and Hoover and Mountain Brook went into it knowing that the winner of the two won the state title. The girls team of Marie DeMedicis, Catherine Diethelm, Margaret Pritchard and Kendal Reed overcame a possibly disastrous baton drop to beat Hoover by slightly more than a second.
“That 4×400 win was a result of a lot of work,” Head Coach Greg Echols said. “Those girls were lifting weights over the summer and realized that made them feel better when they ran. Things like that make a difference. And to have dropped the baton, that shows how fast they ran.”
Junior Elizabeth Coleman had an unexpected win in the pole vault to along with top five finishes in 100 and 300-meter hurdles. But the distance runners scored the Spartans the most points. Ann Sisson and Rachel Reddy finished third and fourth in both the mile and two mile, the 4×800 team won, and seniors Marie DeMedicis and Catherine Diethelm finished highly in the 400 and half mile.
“I’m not sure if there’s ever been a group like these girls, with them winning four of the last five championships.” Echols said. “We have consistently been very good, and have a team chemistry that you just can’t explain.
The boys golf team was probably the most surprising of the four. Two months ago, Head Coach Benny Eaves was frustrated with his team’s lack of effort and leadership. Now, he has no complaints, as seniors Tom Lovelady and Stewart Jolly led the Spartans to a landslide win at state, setting the record for largest margin of victory in Alabama state history.
Going into the final day, the Spartans only led by three strokes over a charging Fairfield. But an excellent team round of two-over by the Spartans paved the way to an 18-stroke margin of victory, setting a state record.
“The championship was a true team effort,” Eaves said. “I’m trying to contain my excitement. It feels really good. It’s been a long time coming.”
The girls golf team completed the month of championships for Mountain Brook in its 3-stroke victory at the state championship. Their 477 total score, led by Tatum Jackson’s 76-74 rounds, was the lowest two-day score in Alabama state championship history.
“At first it seemed to take a few moments to sink in, but when it did the girls were jubilated,” Head Coach Jackie Clayton said. “It was a culmination of three years of hard work from the girls to reach this ultimate goal.”
Clayton went on to add that he expects more: “As we are a young team, we have the experience now to continue the pursuit to maintain this title. We are only losing one senior.”
These state championships make Mountain Brook a legitimate threat on the sports scene in the state of Alabama. Congratulations to these four teams!