Photo: Southside High’s Jackson Griggs crosses the finish line first at the Etowah County Schools boys cross country meet on October 21 at the Vivian Maddox Sports Complex in Rainbow City. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
The Southside High boys cross country team has earned many accolades over the past several years.
After the team’s performance at the Etowah County Schools boys cross country meet on October 21, county “perfect” to that list.
The three-time defending champion Panthers took the top five spots to notch the best possible score with 15 points at The Vivian Maddox Sports Complex in Rainbow City.
Southside’s average time of 17:56 was more than minutes faster than second-place Sardis (20:11.7). Glencoe came in third at 21:25.3, while Hokes Bluff finished fourth at 22:38.1.
Meet MVP Jackson Griggs paced Southside with a first place showing of 17:32.7, bettering his 2020 county meet runner-up time by 16 seconds. Luke Holcombe posted a runner-up time of 17:43.5, while Ryan Maudsley (17:47), Evan Christopher (17:57.9) and Parker Cunningham ((18:42.) finished third, fourth and fifth, respectively.
Rounding out the top 10 were Southside’s Max Valentine (18:44.6), Hokes Bluff’s Bryer Morrison (18:53.1) and Sardis’ Bale Devine (18:56.7) and Lukas Snead (19:17.4).
Although happy with his individual accomplishment, Griggs said that being a part of the championship team was more gratifying.
“We were able to race as a pack and get that perfect score, which doesn’t happen that often. It really feels great to be able to run alongside my teammates. We were trying to pace it pretty even with the splits so all of our guys could stick together and run as a pack. This is a great course; it’s flat with good footing. This definitely is a good confidence builder for us for sectionals next week.”
Griggs appreciated the presence of 2020 county champion and 2021 Southside graduate Will Anglea, who currently is running at UAH.
“Will was and still is such a role model for me,” said Griggs. “He’s the biggest reason why I am where I am today. What it all comes down to is all the support we get. We have amazing coaches, amazing teammates, amazing parents and an amazing administration. To be given the opportunities we have is really special.”
Southside cross country coach Kim Nails pointed out that the school’s win on October 21 was a result of months of hard work and dedication.
“A cross country championships isn’t won today; it’s the amount of work these kids put in in the summer. This group has been really dedicated and committed to running, and it showed in how they were able to finish today.”
Nails wished to thank the Rainbow City Parks and Recreation Department for putting together the 5K course on short notice.