E.A. Sports Today

Finishing first

Jacksonville’s Hearn repeats as County girls champion, Alexandria edges defending champion Pleasant Valley for team title

Two-time County girls champion Rebecca Hearn (L) and Jacksonville teammate Victoria Ashby enjoy some down time after the race.

Two-time County girls champion Rebecca Hearn (L) and Jacksonville teammate Victoria Ashby enjoy some down time after the race.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD — All Rebecca Hearn was thinking about Tuesday was getting to the finishing line first. She wasn’t concerned about any specific time, whether it was kind of record, winning the race was the only objective.

And win the race she did, by a comfortable margin. The Jacksonville sophomore won the Calhoun County girls cross country championship for the second year in a row, dusting the field in a time of 20:16.52.

She led wire to wire and won by 11 seconds over Chloe Brown and 18 over race favorite Abby Nunnelly, Alexandria teammates whose 2-3 finish led the Lady Cubs to the team crown.

“It’s better than last year, but I’m really indifferent (about the time),” Hearn said. “All I was looking for was a win today. I didn’t care how fast I ran, I just wanted to get to the finish line first, so whatever that took is what I wanted.

“Some days there’s more looking for a PR (personal record), but when you come to Oxford Lake you’re not expecting a PR, I’ve learned that. This isn’t a fast course so you just have to adjust your standards depending on what course you’re running.

“I kept saying in my mind how awesome it would be to say I was the two-two Calhoun County champion so that pushed me a lot, and that’s been pushing me all week in practice and out on the road, just thinking about how badly I wanted this today. It’s so awesome.”

Even if it race wasn’t close, Hearn kept telling herself it was, just to stay interested. The first time she gave in to the temptation to look back was coming out of the final loop about a half-mile from the finish and by then her closest challenger was only about halfway through it.

“The whole time it was all about telling me she was right there on my shoulder the whole time … even if I didn’t know what was going on behind me,” she said. “I kept hearing people yelling her name and I was like she’s gotta be right there, she’s got to be coming, so I was already ready for that, but she never did.”

The team race was a lot closer than the individual chase. The Lady Cubs’ top four runners finished 2-3-7-8 and the team scored 37 points. Pleasant Valley, the girls’ defending champions, had the three runners between Alexandria’s two pair and scored 40 points. The pre-race virtual meet had Alexandria winning by 33.

Brown outran her more experienced teammate for the second time this season, but in Nunnelly’s defense she has been battling a hamstring issue the last month. Brown ran 20:27.12 while Nunnelly came in at 20:34.76 after running a strong second most of the race. The Lady Cubs also counted Lauren Reaves, Emily McFarland and Caroline McFarland.

“For it to be our second year, to win the County trophy is huge,” Alexandria coach Phillip Hartsfield said. “We won it, but I knew going in it was going to be a battle; I didn’t think we were going to run away with anything. I’m just proud of our girls for doing just that enough to be able to take away the first-place trophy as opposed to the second-place trophy.”

Pleasant Valley actually came within three seconds of stealing the title in a tiebreaker. Lady Raiders coach Brad Hood saw how close it was and said “we almost slayed the giant,” and now feels very good about his team’s chances to run for the state championship next month.


Team scores:
Alexandria 37, Pleasant Valley 40, Ohatchee 83, Oxford 90, Jacksonville 133, White Plains 137, Saks 217.

Individual Top 15
Rebecca Hearn, Jacksonville 20:16.52
Chloe Brown, Alexandria 20:27.12
Abby Nunnelly, Alexandria 20:34.76
Trinity Roberts, Pleasant Valley 20:37.90
Emma Hood, Pleasant Valley 21:14.12
Rachel Faucett, Pleasant Valley 21:57.85
Lauren Reaves, Alexandria 22:00.73
Emily McFarland, Alexandria 22:17.67
Madison Reeder, Oxford 22:18.39
Juliana Ballew, Pleasant Valley 22:20.14
Kourtney Shuler, Ohatchee 22:49.12
Toni Coley, Oxford 22:55.23
Jayda Fair, Ohatchee 23:00.56
Victoria McRaney, Ohatchee 23:16.77
Bailey Dollar, Pleasant Valley 23:23.42

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