Southside’s Christopher leads off All-Messenger boys cross country

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Photo by Alex Chaney

By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor

While gaining a name for himself in high school cross country circles following his sophomore season, Evan Christopher came into his own in 2023.
Out of his eight races this past fall, the Southside High junior placed no lower than third in six of them while winning three events. He won his second straight Etowah County Schools championship before finishing third at the Class 5A Section 3 Meet and second out of 102 runners in Class 5A state meet.
Christopher, who finished eighth out of 159 runners in the 2022 meet, bettered his state time by 25 seconds on November 10.
“I wasn’t too concerned with my time going into the race,” he said. “The goal was just to stay in a spot where I could contend, and that’s what I did. I executed the plan perfectly, but I just got out-run in the end.”
Christopher helped the Panthers win their11th straight county championship in October. His time of 15:29 at sectionals broke the school record set by Jackson Griggs.
“Evan has really progressed every year and has made a tremendous impact in our program,” said Southside cross country coach Kim Nails. “Evan is very committed to logging miles in the off season and on his own. His self-discipline and drive are evident as he runs long runs on the weekend. Every day, Evan is making a large deposit in his ‘running bank,’ which allows him to cash in on his investment in November. We are extremely proud of Evan and look forward to watching him get stronger and run even faster in both cross country and track.”

2023 All-Messenger boys cross country team

Runner of the Year: Evan Christopher, junior, Southside

Coach of the Year: Kim Nails, Southside

First team
Evan Christopher, junior, Southside: 15:29.38
Ethan Patterson, junior, Hokes Bluff: 16:59.07
Max Valentine, senior, Southside: 17:00.63
Ryan Matthews, senior, Ashville: 17:12.83
Tanner Griggs, sophomore, Southside: 17:43.25

Second team
Bruce Pantoja, senior, Ashville: 17:52.28
Aidan Pierce, sophomore, Sardis: 17:56.02
Matthew Battles, sophomore, Southside: 18.12.82
Jack Brown, junior, Southside: 18:13
Luke Pilotte, sophomore, Westbrook: 18:44.25

Third team
Cash McCoy, sophomore, Gadsden City: 18:58.97
Levi Kay, 8th grade, Southside: 18:59.30
Coby Caswell, sophomore, Ashville: 19:11.83
Owen Beason, freshman, Glencoe: 19:17.94
Samuel Neal, freshman, Hokes Bluff: 19:18.79

Honorable Mention 
Keaton Yingling, sophomore, Southside: 19:19.89
Micah Brasher, sophomore, Hokes Bluff: 19:21.50
Maddox Vann, junior, Ashville: 19:26.85
Owen Whiteman, junior, Ashville: 19:31.73
Justin Smith, freshman, West End: 19:41.00

Editor’s note: Selections to the All-Messenger cross country team were based on season PRs. Not all schools in The Messenger’s coverage area had runners who qualified.

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