BIRMINGHAM — Sitting at the podium before television cameras and a dozen reporters, Fred Rich smiled wide.
The question posed to the Tanner High senior was about the school’s chance to make history. Can Tanner snag the elusive triple crown, winning state titles in football, basketball and track and field?
“I think we will,” Rich, a senior multi-sport athlete, said with a laugh. “I think we’re going to get it.”
Tanner completed the second part of the task Friday, winning the Class 2A state basketball championship with a 61-45 victory over LaFayette.
The win sealed Tanner’s third state basketball title, its second in three years.
Starting in 2011, Tanner has won boys state championships in three sports: basketball (2011 and 2013), track and field (2012) and football (2012).
Only now, it could manage all three in the same school year.
“If any group of guys can pull it off, it’s these right here,” Tanner basketball coach Chris Whitt said. “These guys can run. I like their chances in track.”
While there is no official definition of this particular triple crown, one can see how the Tanner athletes set their sights on the goal.
And the feat is rare.
In Alabama High School Athletic Association history, which dates back to the early 20th century, only three schools have accomplished a triple crown, and two are from the Decatur area.
In 1985-86, Hazlewood High won state titles in football, basketball and track. Courtland did it in 1999-2000.
The state’s only other triple crown was accomplished by girls teams, when Hazel Green won championships in volleyball, basketball and slow-pitch softball in 1994-95.
“We’ve got a good shot at it,” said Tanner guard Greg Maclin, who also stars on the defending state championship track team. “We’ve got the jumpers and sprinters.”
“And hurdlers,” Desmond Love said, pointing to himself. “We’ve got the hurdlers, too.”
Tanner handily won the school’s first football state title in the fall, and the trip to the school’s fourth boys basketball championship didn’t include many scary obstacles, either.
Casting for this Tanner High championship feature is practically interchangeable. Ten of 12 basketball players were on the football team, and most participate in track.
All have state championship rings — most more than one. Seniors Rich and Maclin, along with sophomore Jonathon Fletcher, all have four rings.
“I don’t know where I’m going to wear them all,” Rich said. “All I know is the rings are getting expensive. When I get the fifth one, maybe I’ll wear it around my neck.”
Contact Justin Graves at 256-340-2460 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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