Christopher repeats as county XC champ as Panthers win 11th straight title

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Photo: Southside’s Evan Christopher crosses the finish line at the Etowah County Schools cross country meet on Tuesday, Oct. 24 at Vivian Lee Maddox Sports Complex in Rainbow City. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

Coming into last Tuesday’s Etowah County School cross country meet, Southside High’s Evan Christopher already had three wins out of six events under his belt this season.
The defending county champion was not concerned about winning a fourth at Vivian Lee Maddox Sports Complex in Rainbow City.
“I was trying to help some of the other guys on the team get PRs today, which they did,” said Christopher, who clocked in at 17:10.0. “So I kind of paced with them and didn’t think about my time that much. This course was definitely better than the ones we ran on before for county. But winning state is the ultimate goal for me this year.”
Hokes Bluff came in second place, while Sardis finished third. It was the Panthers’ 11th straight county championship.
“Evan’s been our lead runner all year and he’s one of the tops in the state,” said Southside cross country coach Kim Nails. “Sacrificing his personal time in order to help the team shows what a great teammate his is. So many of our runners, PR’d today, which is great because yow any to PR at the right time of the year.”
After Hokes Bluff’s Ethan Patterson came in second at 17:36.9, four straight Southside runners crossed the finish line to clinch the first-place trophy – Tanner Griggs at 17:44.9, Max Valentine at 17:53.9, Matthew Battles at 18:23.9 and Jackson Brown at 18:54.7.
Rounding out the top 10 were Glencoe’s Owen Beason at 19:33.4; Sardis Andrew Hopper and Braxton Jones at 19:40.3 and 20:02.7, respectively; and Southside’s Keaton Yingling at 20:07.1.
Finishing in order from 11th to 20th place were Hokes Bluff’s Samuel Neal at 20:08.2, Southside’s Levi Kay at 20:09.2, West End’s Justin Smith at 20:20.4, Glencoe’s Braxton Fortenberry at 20:29.9, Hokes Bluff’s Micah Brasher at 20:37.3, Southside’s Grant Matthews at 21:05.6, Southside’s Mason Borgersrode at 21:11.12, Hokes Bluff’s Trey Harbin at 21:25.7, West End’s Jarrin Vaughn at 21:48.9 and West End’s Jake Vaughn at 21:53.8.
“I’m very proud of our guys,” said Southside coach Kim Nails. “They’ve won [the county meet] now 11 years in a row, and there is always pressure on the next group to win. This group has worked really hard since June in putting in mileage and workouts. All credit to them for their improvement over the year.”
Nails expressed thanks to the Rainbow City Department of parks and Recreation for adding an off-road trail for the 5K course.
“We’re very grateful and they’ve been such a big help,” she said. “It’s great not only for our kids for the general public, as well.”

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