Lady Jackets win first-ever county cross county championship

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Photo: Glencoe High senior Katie Giles set a season PR (pictured at left) while winning her third straight Etowah County Schools cross country meet last Thursday (Oct. 6) in Glencoe. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

The Glencoe High girls cross country team had a specific strategy heading into the Etowah County Schools cross country meet last Thursday (Oct. 6) in Glencoe.
“We told our girls that by the halfway point, if they a [Southside] uniform in front of them, do whatever it takes to pass her,” said Glencoe co-coach Christina Arther. “That’s what is was going to take to win.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets followed those instructions to the letter, winning their first-ever county cross country championship. Glencoe edged Southside both in points (33 to 46) and average time (22:15.8 to 23:03). Sardis finished third with a 26:07.5 average followed by West End (25:39.5) and Hokes Bluff.
Glencoe was led by senior Katie Giles, who claimed her third straight county title. Giles’ first-place time of 20:52.7 was a season PR and more than 30 seconds faster than her winning time of 21:39 in last year’s county 5K.
“It’s pretty exciting, especially with the struggles with injuries and everything” said Giles, who has drawn interest from North Alabama, South Alabama and UAB. “We have some big opportunities as a team this year, and winning county was just one of them. We thought we had a shot [at wining county] last year, and we ended up not coming away with it. So, that’s been one of our goals since then. Everybody’s been putting in the work to do it, so it’s exciting to see it happen.”
Glencoe’s Sarah Ponder finished runner-up at 21:14.4, while Jaxson Sizemore placed 10th at 22:47.8.
Arther pointed out that although she knew what Giles and Ponder and would bring to the table, it was the performance of Sizemore, Chloe Douglas and Allie Jo Amos that clinched the first-place trophy. Douglas and Amos finished 11th (23:05) and 12th (23:19.1), respectively, to earn enough points to hold off the Lady Panthers.
“These girls did everything we asked them to do and more,” said Arther. “We had three goals we talked about before the season, and they achieved that first one today. We can’t wait to see just how much further we can go. This might be my last year coaching, so to go out with a county championship is really special.”
Finishing in third through ninth place were Sardis’ Barit Snead (21:28.5), Southside’s Sarah Burger (21:36.8), Sardis’ Marissa Bozarth (21:54.5), Hokes Bluff’s Emma Godfrey (22:18.3), West End’s Karlee Tarpley (22:25.7), Southside’s Mallory Tucker (22:42.5) and Southside’s Marlee Tucker (22:47.8).
Glencoe co-coach Michael Arther shared that Giles made some individual sacrifices this season in order to help team’s development.
“I have to give Katie a tremendous amount of credit. In three races this season, she ran a tempo pace instead of an individual pace to bring our three, four, five and sixth runners along. Katie has had so many ups and downs the past few years with battling injures, so just to have the mental fortitude to push through that and put herself in the position to win another county championship is really special.”
“I also can’t say enough about Sarah Ponder. She has such a bright future ahead of her. She’s just learning to run, and the future is super-bright for her.”

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