Providence Christian runners Grace Crim and Conner Patterson were no strangers to the winner’s circle during this past high school track and field season.
Crim won 10 races out of 19 she competed in, including winning two state titles at the Class 1A-3A state meet. She also placed fourth in another state event. Patterson won eight of 16 events, including one at the state meet. He also earned a silver, bronze and fifth place at state.
Crim helped the PCS girls team win the 1A-3A state team title and complete a triple crown of winning cross country, indoor and outdoor state titles. Patterson helped the Eagle boys team to a fourth-place state outdoor finish.
In addition, the two dominated during the 1A-3A, Section 1 meet prior to state with Crim finishing first in two races and second in two others, while Patterson won all four races he competed in at that meet.
The success, both overall in the season and in postseason, has earned the two the top Dothan Eagle track/field prep honors for 2021. Crim, a senior, has been named the Female Track/Field Athlete of the Year and Patterson, a junior, has been chosen the Male Track/Field Athlete of the Year.
The two, who are both cross country standouts, are the second winners of the Dothan Eagle track/field awards, which began in 2019. There were no winners last year because of COVID-19.
“I am super honored to be named the track athlete of the year,” Crim said. “This was my first time doing outdoor track and I didn’t know how all my events would go. I really just loved being able to run with the team one last time and to experience all the fun things we did.”
Patterson, who was named the Dothan Eagle Cross Country Runner of the Year in the fall, became the first person to win both the cross country and track awards in the same academic year.
“I am really honored,” Patterson said. “I really feel it is a cool accomplishment to have the cross country and the track awards. Just like cross country, I didn’t know what was in store for me this year (in outdoor). To be able to see all my hard work come together to earn something is special.”
Crim excels in first year in track
After several successful seasons in cross country, Crim joined the track team for the first time, starting with the winter indoor season. She played on the soccer team in previous seasons.
“I was on the fence as to whether I should play soccer my last year or run track my last year,” Crim said. “I think God gave me the ability to run and He made it something that I love doing so I just wanted to do it one last time.”
Crim previously won the Dothan Eagle Cross Country Female Runner of the Year in both 2018 and 2019. In track, she matched her sister Margaret, who was the first female track athlete winner in 2019.
“She is my role model so to follow in her footsteps and get this award (too) is really special,” Crim said. “It really doesn’t happen often so I am glad I got the chance.”
Crim ran mostly the 400, 800, 1600 meters plus the 300-meter hurdles, though she competed on relays in two meets. During the season, she set school records in the 800 meters (2 minutes and 21.50 seconds at the Mountain Brook Invitational, April 9), the 1600 (5:17.91 at state meet on April 30) and the 3200 (12:02.30 at Enterprise Invite on March 6).
She also helped establish school records in the Distance Medley Relay (14:02 at the Enterprise Relays on March 13), the 4x200 relay (1:56.90, also Enterprise Relays) and the 4x800 relay (10:12.18 at Mountain Brook).
“I thought she did outstanding to make that transition over from being a cross country and multi-sport athlete to focusing on track,” Providence Christian coach Cliff Carter said. “She has got God-given natural speed.”
She won both the 300-meter hurdles (48.80) and 1600 meters (5:21.41) at the section meet, while finishing runner-up in both the 400 meters (1:02.00) and 800 meters (2:33.20).
At the state meet, Crim won the 800 (2:21.79) and 1600 (5:17.91) and took fourth in the 400 (1:01.92). Her other state event (only allowed to compete in four events) was the 300-meter hurdles, but in the prelims, she hit one of the hurdles, lost time and finished ninth, failing to qualify for the finals.
“We had the unfortunate incident at state, but she could be a champion in that too,” Carter said.
Crim said she wanted to help her team win state and complete the triple crown, while also earning her first individual state title. Those goals were matched. She also had time-oriented goals.
“In the one-mile (1600), my goal was to get under 5:20 and I broke that at state with 5:17. In the two-mile (3200), I wanted to get under 12 minutes and I got 12:02, so I got close.”
Crim will attend Auburn in the fall, joining her sister and a brother (Crawford), who works in Auburn, but will not compete in cross country or track.
“I did think about it a little bit, but I want to use college as a time to grow my relationship with other people, to spend time focusing on my school work and my relationship with God,” Crim said. “Even though cross country and track are great things that I love doing, it would take a lot out of me when looking at my schedule. I decided to keep running as a hobby and not as a sport.”
Patterson continues excellence
Patterson was in his fifth year running track at PCS. Two years ago, he finished second at the state in the 800 and 10th in the 400, but didn’t get a state chance last year since no championships were held because of COVID-19.
The Eagle junior made an impact at this year’s state meet, winning the 800 meters (1:58.08), finishing second in the 1600 (4:26.23), third in the 3200 (10:05.14) and fifth in the 400 (52.27).
The week before at the section qualifying meet, he won all four events, running 51.79 in the 400, 2:04.08 in the 800, 4:39.56 in the 1600 and 10:25.17 in the 3200.
During the season, he set school records in all four events, clocking 51.76 (Enterprise Invite, March 6) in the 400, 1:56.31 in the 800 (Mountain Brook meet, April 9), 4:26.23 in the 1600 (state meet) and 10:02.62 in the 3200 (Enterprise Friday Night Lights, March 19).
“Conner did everything we asked of him,” Carter said. “Conner set every school record 400 (meters) and above this season. He had a great first season running cross country.
“We started running cross country to try and develop the track side of things and he did—individual state champion in the 800 and ran a 4:26 (in 1600) as a junior in high school and that is going to get him into position to try and go somewhere like an Alabama or a large D-I or SEC type school.”
Patterson was pleased with his season.
“I felt I competed well,” Patterson said. “I felt like I honored God with the way I raced and that was the ultimate goal—to honor God with the way I raced and the way I competed.”
Patterson said he accomplished some of his goals for the season.
“I wanted to run under 1:57 in the 800, which I ran a 1:56, so that was awesome,” Patterson said. “Once I realized after my indoor season that I was in better mile shape that I thought, I wanted to run 4:25 (in 1600) and ended up running a 4:26, so I was just short. I never really got a shot to run a fast 400 because I was always tired. Like at state, I ran the 400 right after the mile.
“I achieved (some goals) in some events and didn’t achieve in others, but ultimately I think I accomplished my goals and I raced well.”
A junior, Patterson will have one more year to add to his track resume.
“My goals for next year are to compete for state in cross country and try to defend the state title,” Patterson said. “In track, it is to go out there and try to race as well as I can and try to win the events I am put in because I feel I have a shot to win, like the 400, 800, 1600 and even 3200.
“There are some fast guys out there in the state (coming back) that I would have to compete against but I hung with them this year and I feel I can hang with them next year.”