Arab indoor track coach Waid Harbison feels strongly his girls team is one of the best 6A squads in the state. It has been ranked in the top 10 all season, and with the big event coming up this weekend in Birmingham, hopes were high for a strong finish.
It won’t happen.
Injuries have slowed the team all season, but last week injuries dealt a devastating blow to the already short-handed Lady Knights’ chances to succeed in the 6A state meet Saturday morning at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
Jenna Hill, who had already qualified in two events, won’t compete at all Saturday. She was last seen wearing a boot at the Arab football banquet Sunday night. Almost as damaging is the lingering stress fracture injury to Elizabeth Scarborough, who has qualified for the triple jump but won’t be 100 percent on Saturday.
To make things even worse, the boys team’s leading points scorer, Mitchell Duquette, also is out of Saturday’s competition.
“Jenna had already qualified in pole vault and triple jump, and if she was healthy, she would have probably qualified in two more events (in last weekend’s Last Chance meet),” Harbison said. “Additionally on the girls side, Elizabeth Scarborough has been overcoming a stress fracture, and we were hoping for indoor state she would he back to 100 percent but her recovery is taking a little bit longer.
“She has still qualified in triple jump and will compete at state, but not in long jump, and without her being 100 percent recovered, she will struggle to break the top 3 like we know she can.”
That’s unfortunate for the team and Scarborough, who has signed with the University of Mobile. A signing ceremony for her and Hallie Grace Williamson is scheduled for Monday morning. Williamson, who has qualified for the state in pole vault, has signed with the University of Montevallo.
“On the boys side, Mitchell Duquette qualified in pole vault and would have qualified in relays and helped our boys relay teams to qualify, but unfortunately he is also out for indoor state,” Harbison said. We have a smaller roster so these injures really make a big impact on our team’s chances when some of our top talent is out.”
That’s not to mention field sizes in all events have been reduced because of COVID-19 protocols.
Other Arab athletes who have competed for Saturday’s meet include:
• Aubrey Elrod, pole vault
• Hope Hill, high jump
• Drake Brown, pole vault
Arab’s 4x200 girls relay team just missed the qualifying time by a fraction of a second but still set a new school record. The team is comprised Ashton Mariner, Vivian Fleming, Williamson and Aleigh Hawkins.
“We are very proud of our teams this year,” Harbison said. “Our girls team had great success and was ranked top 10 in the state the entire season until this last meet, where we fell back some due to injuries.
“This year’s standards to qualify were the hardest they have ever been in order to have fewer athletes competing at the state meet due to the Coronavirus, so we are extremely proud of the group we have had that hit those hard times and are ranked top 12 in the state in their events in 6A in order to qualify.
“Going into outdoor season, we feel really strongly about our girls being a top team in the state in 6A when we get all of our athletes back and healthy.”