The Lady Tigers were down to the 4x400-meter relay to earn enough points to win state. No pressure or anything, but it was up to her to get her teammates off to a good start.
“I had the baton, and I couldn’t choke or false start,” she said. “I was so nervous I didn’t know what to do. We had to come in the top three I think.”
Flash-forward to May 5 in Selma.
The Lady Tigers needed a strong showing in the 4x400 relay again to help them seal their sixth straight championship. And again, Dupree had the baton in her hand, this time with her track and field career coming full circle.
“Having Coach (Joe) Carpenter yell for me in the final race, it was scary and crazy at the same time,” she said “I couldn’t choke or false start again.”
Dupree didn’t, and the Lady Tigers finished second in the event with a time of 4:30.03 to earn their latest title.
“When we got the trophy and I was talking with everybody, they were like ‘It’s your last year.’ Then it clicked,” said Dupree, who also finished third in the 100-meter dash and fifth in the 200-meter dash. “I started getting sad. I hate that it’s my last year. I wished I could keep going and going.
“It feels great to win six straight championships. I’ve had great teammates and a great coach each and every single year.”
On Tuesday, both the Tiger boys and girls teams were formally honored for their latest championship at the school gym. Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association Director Alvin Briggs was on hand to present both teams with their championship trophies.
“We’ve had teams in different classifications to win multiple state championships, but to have a school to have boys and girls to win six straight state championships is unprecedented,” he said. “It says a lot about the administration, the parents, the coaches and the kids. It’s a total team effort.”
Dupree isn’t the only one who’s been a part of all six titles. Fellow seniors Evan McBurnett and Hayden Hackett also earned their sixth state championship rings that Saturday afternoon in Selma.
McBurnett finished third in the 1600-meter run. He also took fourth in the 800-meter run and fifth in the 3200-meter run. He was also a member of the Tigers’ 4x800-meter relay team that finished fourth. Hackett finished sixth in the triple jump and was also of the Tigers’ 4x800-meter relay team.
Adorned with all the medals and rings he’s accumulated over his track and field career, McBurnett said he felt like this year was the toughest title the Tigers have earned.
“It came down to the last two events before we had it locked down,” he said. “A lot of people had personal records.
“Coming out of basketball kind of made it easier because we were still in shape. It was also kind of sad since we had come off a (state championship) loss at state. I just wanted to come out and win so bad before I graduated. It just feels good to win every year I’ve played.”
Hackett also said it was the Tigers toughest title to come by in his career. Now that it’s over, Hackett said he feels “blessed to be a part of all this.”
“It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s worth it to just be around the guys,” he said. “It came down to the wire. We just ran hard and practiced hard throughout the year. It (state) got closer and closer, and the adrenaline started pumping, and it just came to us.
“I feel like there’s a lot of heart on this team. We were faced with a lot of adversity. I feel like this senior group, our leaders, as well as some of the underclassmen stepped up. We just showed a lot of heart, and that’s what it takes to get to the postseason and win championships. There’s a lot of determination, and it showed.”
Hackett said his favorite memory of all of the Tigers’ track and field titles is holding the blue map.
“That never gets old, no matter how many times you win it,” he said. “I just hope they carry it on next year. I’m probably still going to get butterflies watching them. I’m probably going to still feel like I’m a part of them.”
Although not a member of the Tigers’ exclusive six state title club, junior Audrianna Hargitt helped those exclusive members earn theirs.
Hargitt led the Lady Tigers to their most recent championship with a gold medal in the triple jump and silver medals in the shot put and long jump. Hargitt also claimed bronze in the high jump.
Hargitt said there’s no secret to the Tigers’ success, “just a lot of hard work, dedication and running.”
“It’s so amazing to hear the words six straight state championships in a row come out of my mouth,” Hargitt said. “It’s so great because we have such a great team who was willing to work together. Even when times were hard, we still pushed through it. I’m so glad to be on such a team like we have this year.
“It’s so great just to hold that trophy in your hands. It makes me so happy to see everybody here happy. We can’t wait until next year and come out with another blue one.”