E.A. Sports Today

Hearn leads youth movement

Jacksonville ninth-grader stays ahead of competition by pushing hard



By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — Rebecca Hearn came into the Calhoun County Cross Country Championship as the favorite to win the girls race, but she wasn’t taking anything for granted.

As she looked up and down the starting line at Oxford Lake Park Tuesday, there were several challengers capable of giving the Jacksonville ninth-grader a run for her money. Any let up could spell disaster, so no matter how far she might be ahead, she had to stay on the accelerator.

Hearn broke away from the pack early and led the race wire-to-wire, winning in a time of 20:24.60 that was a little slower than her best time of the year but by far the best of her three County meets and plenty fast enough to beat everyone to the finish. She beat runner-up Abby Nunnelly of Alexandria to the line by 30 seconds.

“I knew there was competition out here,” she said. “I knew I had to keep pushing it because I knew if I just didn’t try there was going to be the possibility I couldn’t have won.

“Being expected to be the favorite makes you have to push yourself harder to meet those expectations.”

Hearn reminded herself of the competition the entire race — even as she was pulling away. During the first mile she already was ahead by 13 seconds. The lead stretched to 18 seconds when the runners came back into view and it was 18.5 seconds at the two-mile pole.

“It was hard to push myself but I know Abby is a big competitor so I knew I had to watch out for her,” she said. “So mentally I tried to push myself and follow the lead car, trying to keep up with that.”

Youth definitely was served in the girls’ race. Alexandria eighth-graders Nunnelly (20:54.02) and Chloe Brown (21:45.78) were second and third, respectively. Pleasant Valley ninth-grader Rachel Faucett was fourth (21:50.46).

Nine of the top 11 finishers were from grades 7 through 9. The first junior was 12th and the first senior was 13th.

“I think it’s great, I just hope it doesn’t stay that way — all the young ones winning,” Hearn said. “I hope I can keep it up.”

Calhoun County Cross Country Championship

Top 15

(School year in parenthesis)

Rebecca Hearn, Jacksonville (9) 20:24.60
Abby Nunnelly, Alexandria (8) 20:54.02
Chloe Brown, Alexandria (8) 21:45.78
Rachel Faucett, Pleasant Valley (9) 21:50.46
Madison Reeder, Oxford (10) 21:54.14
Victoria McRaney, Ohatchee (8) 22:03.33
Amber Dempsey, Oxford (10) 22:08.36
Emma Hood, Pleasant Valley (7) 22:11.39
Mary Shelton, Jacksonville (9) 22:36.85
Juliana Ballew, Pleasant Valley (8) 23:02.22
Madison Ward, Ohatchee (7) 23:03.14
Lauren Reaves, Alexandria (11) 23:13.21
Tiffany Williams, Pleasant Valley (12) 23:15.78
Ashley Leath, Ohatchee (8) 23:19.39
Kourtney Shuler, Ohatchee (9) 23:43.00

Team champion: Pleasant Valley

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