Photo: Ashville High’s Taylor Knight crosses the finish line to win the Class 1A-4A girls division of the Fairview Invitational 5K last Saturday (Sept. 18) in Cullman. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Sparked by first-place performances by top-ranked runners Joe Stevens and Taylor Knight, the Ashville High boys and girls cross country teams finished first and second, respectively, in the Class 1A-4A division of the Fairview Invitational last Saturday (Sept. 18) in Cullman.
Stevens, currently ranked first in 4A, came in first out of 117 runners at 16:29.44, 23 seconds ahead runner-up Alex Kurtz of Elkmont. Ashville’s average time of 17:51.27 was 42 seconds faster than second-place Oneonta (18:33.62).
Two other AHS boys runners finished in the top 10 – Wyatt Knight in third (17:12.35), Ashton Vann in eighth (17:58.39) and Clayton Knight in 10th (18:09.02).
Hokes Bluff’s Mason Miller (18:59.91) and Bryer Morrison (19:01.96) came in 18th and 19th, respectively.
Finishing in the top 30 for the Bulldogs were Bruce Pantoja at 24th (19:27.13), Walker Griffith at 25th (19:31.80 25) and Greyson Simpson in 28th (19:43.05). Also helping the Ashville cause were Augie Lemonds (21:09.64), Carter Jones (21:17.04), Maddox Vann (21:56.91) and Austin Reynolds (25:12.80).
In the girls’ race of 91 runners, Ashville was 15 seconds shy of Hatton’s winning average time of 22:36.44. Taylor Knight, currently ranked first in 4A, clocked in at 19:52.87, 63 seconds faster than runner-up Neidyn Lopez of Hatton.
Kathleen McCarthy and Emma Drinkard were the Lady Bulldogs’ other top 20 finisher at 10th (22:39.09) and 15th (23:15.55), respectively. Emma Thompson came in 25th at 24:09.13. Hokes Bluff’s Elizabeth Edge finished in 13th place at 22:48.32.
The Ashville boys are currently ranked second in the state, while the Ashville girls hold the fifth spot.