Photo: Southside High’s Will Anglea raises his finger as he crosses the finish line to the Etowah County Schools boys cross country meet on Oct. 22 in Glencoe. (Chris McCarthy/Messenger)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Will Anglea could not have chosen a better time to win his first varsity 5K meet.
After being plagued by injuries over the past few years, the Southside High senior sparked the Panthers to a first place finished at the Etowah County Schools cross country meet Oct. 22 in Glencoe.
Led by Anglea’s winning time of 17:37.2, the SHS boys took the top four spots. The Panthers’ average time of 18:14 was almost two minutes better than that of second-place Hokes Bluff. Anglea was followed across the finish line at North Glencoe Baptist Church, in order, by teammates Jackson Griggs (17:48.3), Ryan Maudsley (18:05.5) and Luke Holcombe (18:11.7) and Hokes Bluff’s Sam Green (18:48.1).
On the girls side, the Lady Panthers claimed six out of the top 10 finishers to edge Glencoe by an average time margin of 23:17 to 24:04. Glencoe sophomore Katie Giles took first place with a time of 20:01.4. 2019 county winner Camryn Davis finished runner-up at 21:40.9, while Sardis’ Barit Snead came in third place at 22:22.5.
It was the third straight county title for both Southside teams.
“It was kind of a narrow shoot out of the starting gate, so we knew that we had to get out fast,” said Anglea. “I basically packed up with Ryan and Sam Green for the first mile and a half, then Jackson caught up to us and we all started running really hard. With about 1,200 to go, me and Jackson started our kick. It turned out to be a really great race.”
Having dealt with 17 stress fractures over the course of his high school career made Anglea’s victory during his senior season that much sweeter.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “It’s been hard road, but God is great; He’s given me the ability to run. I couldn’t be happier right now. I love this team; if it wasn’t for these guys pushing me every day, I wouldn’t have what I have.”
“Will has overcome so many obstacles,” said SHS cross country coach Kim Nails. “He’s been sidelined with some freak injuries and health-related issues. He’s one of the hardest working and most self-disciplined kids I’ve ever worked with, so I’m really proud for he accomplished today. I can’t think of anyone who is more deserving than Will.”
Giles, who is currently ranked third in Class 3A, won her sixth 5K event of the season.
“I wanted to get sub-20 [time] but I was more looking for placement today,” she said. “This is where we train most of the time, so I know this course pretty well. It’s pretty brutal, so I’m happy with how it turned out.”
Giles acknowledged the challenge of holding off Davis and Snead, who are ranked in the top 20 in 6A and 5A, respectively.
“The county meet is a big rivalry thing, and I knew that they both would be going super-hard. But I felt good and I ran my race instead of going off of their pace. One of my goals for this season was to win county, so it feels really good.”
Filling out the top 10 boys from sixth to 10th place were Southside’s Sam Kilgo (19:27.6), Hokes Bluff’s Bryer Morrison 19:32.9), Hokes Bluff’s Harrison Millander (19:50.4), Southside’s Max Valentine (19:56) and Glencoe’s Connor Cothran (19:59.8).
Placing fourth through 10th for the girls were Southside’s Alexis Valentine (23:02.1) and Zoie Menk (23:05.5), Glencoe’s Allie Jo Amos (23:25.2), Hokes Bluff’s Elizabeth Edge (24:08.5) and Southside’s Mallory Tucker (24:18.8), Mallory Rich (24:21) and Adalyn Phillips (24:51.9).
SHS coach Kim Nails said that by far, this is the fastest overall boys and girls team in the history of the program.
“I can’t think of a time in the past that we had three guys running in the sixteens (Maudsley, Holcomb and Griggs) and Will is knocking on the door at 17:03. Plus, Parker [Cunningham], Sam, Max, Kevin [Christopher], Bo [Parker] and River [Harris] are all in the eighteens.
“On the girls side, Cam’s PR is at 20:09 and Zoie and Alexis are under 21 and Mallory Rich is in the 22s. Sara Burger, Mallory Tucker, Katie Ogle, Enslee Clough and Adalyn are all in the 23s. So, it’s really nice to see their hard work and discipline during the summer and early season pay off.
“Class 6A has some really strong teams, both boys and girls, so we’ve got a good challenge ahead of us at sectionals (on Nov. 5). The competition level keeps on climbing, but we’re climbing, too, so that’s the exciting part.”