Photo: Katie Giles enters the final turn of the AHSAA Class 3A state cross country meet last Saturday (Nov. 14) in Oakville. Giles won the state championship by a 35 second margin over the runner-up. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Katie Giles set two specific goals for the AHSAA state cross country meet last Saturday (Nov. 14) in Oakville – win the state championship and break the 19-minute mark in the process.
The Glencoe High sophomore went 2-for-2 to capture the school’s first state title since the GHS girls golf team won it all in 2015. It was Giles’ fifth straight victory and eighth out of 10 races for the 2020 season.
Seeded second behind Holley Hart, Giles’ personal record time of 18:57.09 was 35 seconds faster than the Houston Academy freshman. Giles improved her state meet time by a minute and 28 seconds from her 2019 sixth-place time of 20:25.57.
Giles led Saturday’s field of 144 runners from start to finish.
“It was so hard all summer working so hard to get ready for this year, but it paid off and it was all worth it,” she said. “I knew that [Hart] was the one that was going to be the closest to me and the one that I had to beat, and my coach (Michael Arther) helped me out along the way.”
It was the third time this year that Giles ran the course at Indian Mounds, so she was very familiar with the trail.
“This definitely is my favorite pace to run at, so I had a really good shot to win,” she said.
Giles was appreciative of the amount of support she’s received from her school and the Glencoe community.
“Everyone’s been commenting on the cross country Facebook page and a lot of people have been texting me.”
Arther noted that Giles’ first-place performance was a product of her hard work, determination and effort.
“I knew I should have been nervous before the race, but I really wasn’t, because I know the amount of hard work that Katie’s put into today. If she happened to get beat, it would have been because the other kid worked just as hard as Katie did. I had no doubt about Katie’s ability; it was a matter of which day it was, and today was Katie’s day.”
Arther pointed out that Giles’ state title was an accomplishment that the GHS athletic department needed.
“We’ve experienced a lot of turnover over the past few years in terms of staffing and coaches. Not that it’s a good or a bad thing; it just takes time to recover, and COVID didn’t help that. Now, we have such a good group of volunteer coaches bringing their time to support our coaches and staff. Glencoe needed a boost, and I think Katie provided a heck of a boost today.”
Giles was not the only local runner who turned in a standout effort. Five other runners finished in the top 15 to make the all-state team, led by Westbrook Christian’s Asher Curp, whose time of 17:33.99 was good for third place in the Class 1A-2A boys event of 144 participants
“After I got through the switchback hills, I started to push up until I got in second [place],” said Curp. “I finished on empty, so I definitely gave it all I had. I wasn’t really worried about my time or anything today. I want to keep the front pack within shooting range, and I think I did a good job with that. I’m proud of how I raced and proud of how our team raced.”
The Warriors finished sixth out of 13 teams with an average time of 20:01.48.
In the Class 4A boys field of 163 runners, Ashville’s Wyatt Knight (17:25.33) and Joe Stevens (17:43.03) clocked in at sixth pace and 11th place, respectively.
Hokes Bluff’s Sam Green came in 13th out of 155 runners in the 3A boys event with a time of 17:37.67.
Local top 25 showings included Southside’s Camryn Davis at 17th (20:15.63) in Class 6A girls with 227 runners; Sardis’ Barit Snead at 18th in Class 5A girls (21:33.67) with 144 runners; Southside’s Will Anglea at 20th in Class 6A boys (17:10.65) with 247 runners; Glencoe’s Allie Jo Amos at 22nd (21:42.78) in Class 3A girls and Ashville’s Meghan McCarthy at 23rd (21:58.71) in Class 4A girls with 144 runners.
Area boys runners who competed at the state meet were:
* Westbrook’s Jackson Martin, 26th in 1A-2A at 19:01.70
* Southside’s Jackson Griggs, 34th in 6A at 17:29.73
* Ashville’s Clayton Knight, 41st in 4A at 18:51.75
* Southside’s Luke Holcombe, 45th in 6A at 17:37.97
* Hokes Bluff’s Bryer Morrison, 52nd in 3A at 19:14.61
* Glencoe’s Conner Cothran, 56th in 3A at 19:18.08
* Southside’s Ryan Maudsley, 58th in 6A at 17:49.52
* Hokes Bluff’s Ethan Johnson, 60th in 3A at 19:24.54
* Westbrook’s Dathan Curp, 63rd in 1A-2A at 20:07.58
* Ashville’s Bruce Pantoja, 75th in 4A at 19:49.95
* Hokes Bluff’s Mason Miller, 80th in 3A at 19:59.55
* Ashville’s Greyson Simpson, 81st in 4A at 19:57.27
* Westbrook’s Torren Cantrell, 84th in 1A-2A at 21:13.21
* Sardis’ Blade Devin, 92nd in 5A at 19:36.02
* Southside’s Max Valentine, 97th in 6A at 18:35.35
* Ashville’s Walker Griffith, 106th in 4A at 20:38.01
* Westbrook’s Elijah Banks, 107th in 1A-2A at 22:10.91
* Glencoe’s Cason Arther, 110th in 3A at 20:56.28
* Southside’s Bo Parker, 113th in 6A at 18:48.97
* Southside’s Sam Kilgo, 120th in 6A at 18:56.29
* Westbrook’s Drew Whittemore, 124th in 1A-2A at 23:10.33
* Westbrook’s Sage Robertson, 128th in 1A-2A at 23:26.65
* Glencoe’s Robert Edgar, 129th in 3A at 21:40.49
* Westbrook’s Clay Bishop, 130th in 1A-2A at 23:42.36
* Ashville’s Caleb Bailey, 131st in 4A at 21:47.19
* Southside’s Parker Cunningham, 133rd in 6A at 19:05.26
* Westbrook’s Luke Thompson, 134th in 1A-2A at 24:07.44
* Hokes Bluff’s Sean Duke-Walters, 143rd in 3A at 23:37.27
* Westbrook’s Brody Ostendorf, 144th in 1A-2A at 26:10.48
* Hokes Bluff’s John Max Taylor, 147th in 3A at 24:43.65
* Hokes Bluff’s Noah Beggs, 149th in 3A at 25:08.34
* Southside’s Evan Christopher, 150th in 6A at 19:21.82
* Ashville’s Kanyon White, 150th in 4A at 22:52.48
* Ashville’s Carter Jones, 154th in 4A at 23:32.96
* Ashville’s Trace Sanford, 155thj in 4A at 23:45.58
* Southside’s River Harris, 230th in 6A at 22:25.10
Local girls runners who competed at the state meet were:
* Ashville’s Taylor Knight, 30th in 4A at 22:21.13
* Ashville’s Emma Drinkard, 42nd in 4A at 23:04.14
* Ashville’s Kathleen McCarthy, 57th in 4A at 23:35.22
* Southside’s Zoie Menk, 58th in 6A at 21:49.92
* Southside’s Alexis Valentine, 59th in 6A at 21:50.99
* Ashville’s Callie Stewart, 59th in 4A at 23:40.23
* Hokes Bluff’s Kiera Johnson, 60th in 3A at 23:17.91
* Ashville’s Molly Northam, 61st in 4A at 23:53.07
* Ashville’s Emma Thompson, 62nd in 4A at 23:55.12
* Westbrook’s Maggie Morgan, 64th in 1A-2A at 24:51
* Hokes Bluff’s Elizabeth Edge, 71st in 3A at 23:56.76
* Glencoe’s Anna Grace Ponder, 88th in 3A at 24:29.36
* Glencoe’s Kaitlyn Ponder, 96th in 3A at 24:45.89
* Glencoe’s Malaya Payne, 97th in 3A at 24:46.43
* Glencoe’s Elizabeth Harrison, 102nd in 3A at 24:55.07
* Southside’s Mallory Tucker, 107th in 6A at 22:58.49
* Ashville’s Grace Staples, 112th in 4A at 27:19.19
* Glencoe’s Mckinley Kay, 116th in 3A at 25:30.62
* Southside’s Katie Ogle, 118th in 6A at 23:24.67
* Southside’s Lacey Rich, 125th in 6A at 23:36.21
* Southside’s Enslee Clough, 127th in 6A at 23:39.14
* Glencoe’s Katie Shaneyfelt, 129th in 3A at 27:26.77
* Southside’s Mallory Rich, 136th in 6A at 23:53.03
* Glencoe’s Ella Hines, 143rd in 3A at 30:56.81
* Southside’s Sydney Hughes, 188th in 6A at 26:20.79