Messenger staff photo by Chris McCarthy
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Local runners turned in standout performances at sectional cross country meets on Thursday, Nov. 5, including two individual titles, two runner-up showings and a team championship.
The top four teams and the top six individuals from each section qualified for the state meet on Nov. 14 in Oakville.
Glencoe High’s Katie Giles set a course record while winning the Class 3A, Section 3 girls individual title at White Plains. Giles’ times of 19:42.61 was almost two minutes faster than runner-up Trinity Roberts of Pleasant Valley.
“I was surprised when I found out I broke the course record,” said Giles, who currently is ranked No. 2 in Class 3A. “Normally, a few runners start out faster than me and I catch them around the first mile, but today I was out in from the whole way, so it felt pretty good. I think I’m about 10 seconds off the girl in front of me [in the state rankings] so I think that I can [win] at state.”
Glencoe finished third overall with an average time of 23:30.25. Finishing in the top 10 for the Lady Yellow Jackets was Allie Jo Amos, who came in fifth at 22:08.74. Hokes Bluff’s Elizabeth Edge clocked in at 23:27.44 for 11th place, with teammate Kiera Johnson 13th at 23:38.88. Glencoe’s Anna Grace Ponder (24:48.19) and Kaitlyn Ponder (24:54.20) finished 16th and 17th, respectively.
“Katie’s work ethic is what allowed her to set the course record today,” said Glencoe cross country coach Michael Arther. “She set a goal this morning to win this race and she went out and did it. She’s become the silent leader of our team.”
The Ashville High girls had four runners finish in the top 10 on the way to the Class 4A, Section 2 championship. It was the Lady Bulldogs’ third straight sectional title. Ashville’s average time of 22:39.87 was 17 seconds better than that of second-place White Plains. Taylor Knight set the table for Ashville with a first-place time of 21:46.08. Teammate Meghan McCarthy was close behind with a runner-up time of 22:04.13, followed by Kathleen McCarthy at fourth (22:23.94) and Emma Drinkard at 10th (23:27.57). Helping the Lady Dawg cause were Callie Stewart (12th, 23:37.63), Molly Northam (14th, 23:59.17), Emma Thompson (17th, 24:35.08) and Grace Staples (35th, 29:11.76).
The Ashville boys took second place overall. Wyatt Knight paced the Bulldogs with a third-place time of 17:39.67, followed by Joe Stevens in fifth at 17:50.82, Clayton Knight, in 11th at 18:56.34, Bruce Pantoja in 18th at 19:43.21 and Greyson Simpson in 24th at 20:39.34.
“The last time we had all of our runners at the same meet was six weeks ago, so adversity is a word that both the boys and girls teams can apply to this season,” said AHS cross country coach Michele Rogers. “But instead of throwing in the towel, they had the attitude of, ‘okay, what can we do to get better?’ They’ve never let up this season, and it paid off today. Everyone knew who they had to beat in order for us to win, and they stepped up and did it.”
Sam Green’s fifth-place showing of 17:53.13 helped the Hokes Bluff take third place in the 3A Section 3 race. Teammate Bryer Morrison came in 13th at 19:16.47, followed by Glencoe’s Conner Cothran in 16th at 19:30.97, Hokes Bluff’s Harrison Millander in 20th at 19:48.67 and Hokes Bluff’s Mason Miller at 19:50.96. Qualifying for state as individuals for Hokes Bluff were Coleman McGinnis, Sean Duke-Walker, Jayden Gibbs, John Max Taylor and Noah Beggs. Glenoce’s Cason Arther and Robert Edgar also qualified as individuals.
At the Class 1A-2A Section 2 boys meet at Cold Springs, Westbrook Christian finished second overall with an average time of 20:04.08 Asher Curp finished runner-up with a time of 17:43.21. Teammates Dathan Curp (14th, 20:07.06), Jackson Martin (15th, 20:10.64) and Torren Cantrell (20th, 20:35.15) helped the Warrior cause. On the girls’ side, Maggie Morgan and Clare Goodwin qualified as individuals.
At the Class 5A, Section 3 meet at Lineville, Sardis’ Barit Snead came in second at 22:04.97. Qualifying for the state meet from the Sardis boys was Blade Devin with a 17th place time of 19:27.24.