Photo Glencoe’s Sarah Ponder 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
After finishing as runner-up at last year’s Etowah County Schools cross country meet, Sarah Ponder claimed the top prize last Tuesday (Oct. 24) at Vivian Lee Maddox Sports Complex in Rainbow City.
The Glencoe High freshman placed first by a 10-second margin over runner-up Emma Godfrey of Hokes Bluff, 21:01.9 to 21:10.6. Ponder’s time was almost 15 seconds faster than her 2022 county time. Her victory also marked the fifth straight year that a Glencoe runner won county, as 2023 GHS graduate Katie Giles captured the past four championships.
“If felt good to kind of carry on that tradition,” said Ponder. “To be able to win [the race] feels really good. I was kind of pacing myself, especially near the end, so I wasn’t really paying attention [to the other runners]. I liked how [the course] was mostly in the woods but not too far off.”
Southside earned the team championship with four runners finishing in the top 10. Marlee Tucker came in third at 21:23.8, followed by Taylor Dortch in fourth at 21:36.2, Mallory Tucker in eighth at 22:52.3 and Adalyn Phillips in ninth at 22:53.2. Runner-up West End also had three runners place in the top 10 – Karlee Tarpley in fifth at 22:25.5, Kennedi Nix in sixth at 22:28.2, Kaylee Tarply in seventh at 22:39.0 and Carolina Rainey in 10th at 22:58.8.
The Lady Panthers had a combined time margin of 1:52.08.8 to the Lady Patriots’ 1:56.05.5.
It was the Lady Panthers’ fifth county championship over the past six years. Southside was runner-up to Glencoe last season.
“I’m very proud of these kids, because they’ve worked so hard,” said Southside cross country coach Kim Nails. “We have a whole lot of young kids who have continued to improve throughout the year.”
Finishing in order from 11th through 20th place were Southside’s Lucy Valentine (23:23.1), Southside’s Zoie Menk (23:25.4), Southside’s Riley Hulsey (23:57.2), Sardis’ Janelle Ford (24:14.4), Southside’s Hannah Stanfield (24:19.5), Hokes Bluff’s Mara Brothers (24:26.5), Southside’s Payton Ridley (24:39.4), Southside’s Madelyn Chandler (25:20.8), West End’s Toree Chaney (25:33.7) and West End’s Jada Wright (25:41.4).
“It’s great to see our county schools getting stronger and stronger in cross country,” Nails added. “I believe [cross country] is among the purist and best sports a kid can take on. Congratulations to all of our teams in the county for great runs.”