E.A. Sports Today

Running notes

Notes and results from Saturday’s AHSAA Cross Country Championships; results are from classifications with Calhoun County runners (updated)

Alexandria's Abby Nunnelly made it a point to embrace each of her teammates before running in the Class 5A race that opened Saturday's AHSAA Cross Country Championships. On the cover, the Pleasant Valley girls team displays their second state championship trophy.

Alexandria’s Abby Nunnelly made it a point to embrace each of her teammates before running in the Class 5A race that opened Saturday’s AHSAA Cross Country Championships. On the cover, the Pleasant Valley girls team displays their second state championship trophy.

From AHSAA, Staff Reports

MOULTON – Freshman Isabel Valenzuela of St. Paul’s and sophomore Amaris Tyynismaa of Montgomery Catholic each won their third straight individual state championships in Class 5A and 4A, respectively and 12 team state champions were crowned at the 61st annual AHSAA State Cross Country Championships Saturday.

Auburn (7A), Homewood (6A), Scottsboro (5A), LAMP (4A), American Christian (3A), St. Bernard Prep (1A/2A) each won boys’ titles, while Pleasant Valley (3A) was joined by Huntsville (7A), Homewood (6A), St. Paul’s Episcopal (5A), Randolph (4A), and Westminster of Oak Mountain (1A/2A) as girls champions.

CLASS 7A BOYS: Auburn placed three runners in the top five finishers as coach Dan Norton’s Tigers captured the school’s fourth straight state championship with 59 points. Seniors Joshua Escoe, Jack Rogers and Nate Pudner crossed the finish just 13 seconds apart. Hoover’s Tommy McDonough won the race by a tenth of a second in one one of the closest finishes in the history of the event.

CLASS 6A BOYS: Sophomore Will Stone captured the Class 6A individual cross country championship with a 16:01.40 time and Homewood rolled to its fifth consecutive state team championship.

Calhoun County boys champion Reed Robinson of Oxford finished 39th in 17:55.74.

CLASS 5A BOYS: Scottsboro senior Colton Smith ran the 3.1-mile course in 16:09.60 to claim the Class 5A individual championship and lead the Wildcats to their 12 state boys’ title dating back to 1991.

CLASS 4A BOYS: Loveless Academic Magnet School (LAMP) of Montgomery, captured its first state boys’ cross country title, nipping runner-up Randolph by two points (88-90).

White Plains’ Chase Crandall was the fastest Calhoun County boys runner regardless of classification. His 17:51.60 was 42nd in the Class 4A race. He hit the tape seven spots and 14 seconds ahead of Jacksonville’s Kevin Barajas, the Calhoun County runnerup.

The strong finish brought a positive end to a tough year brought on by his battle with asthma; the dusty conditions on the course Saturday didn’t help that any.

“I just tried to run my best race,” Crandall said. “I didn’t know where he was. I was just trying to get my best time and the school record, but I came up a little short of that. I did my best. I’d like to do better, but I can only do so much. I’ll train harder next time.”

The Wildcats were hoping for a top-10 finish as a team. They finished 11th, but were encouraged by the effort.

“We did so much better this year than last year,” Crandall said. “Last year was pretty much the first year. Our school is really young in cross-country and we got a new coach (John Moore). He’s really involved in it; he loves us and we love him. I’m proud of my team today. They pushed their hardest. We’ve put in a lot of work this year. I’m glad it paid off.”

You would be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic and passionate cross-country coach than Moore.

After encouraging his runners to give it their all, he went back out of the course to encourage the other runners from the county to do the same. The camaraderie it engenders is one of the elements he likes about the sport.

“This is the greatest sport ever,” he said. “In football you don’t ever see two coaches get together and practice together. And it helps when we get here, we’re all in different divisions.

“The only team in Calhoun County we’re racing (here) is Saks and they only brought Rayburn (Price). Until Saks gets a team that competes with us, I can root for Brad (Hood at Pleasant Valley), I can root for (Alexandria’s Phillip) Hartsfield, I can root for Casey (Howell at Ohatchee) — because we’re not in the same division. In the county (championship); we’re rooting against each other.”

CLASS 3A BOYS: American Christian junior Ray Taylor finished first among the 140 runners to set the pace as the Patriots rolled to their second consecutive Class 3A championship. Taylor clocked 16:34.68 to nip runner-up Ernest Ladd of Bayside Academy for the individual title. The Patriots took the championship with 24 points, best boys’ point total of the entire 2016 state.

CLASS 1A/2A BOYS: St. Bernard Prep teammates Casey Guthery and Andrew Sweeney crossed the finish line 1-2 to spark the Saints to their first boys state title. Guthery, a senior, was the individual champion clocking 16:33.57. Sweeney, a junior, was 12 seconds back.

CLASS 7A GIRLS: Huntsville placed four runners in the top 12 Saturday and the Panthers captured their first Class 7A girls’ state cross country championship since 1989. Senior Anna Grace Morgan of Mountain Brook won the individual championship with a winning time of 17:46.01, the fastest time among all girls’ runners in all classes Saturday.

CLASS 6A GIRLS: Homewood freshman Lainey Phelps won the individual championship with a winning time of 18:02.13, the second fastest time of the day in all classes, and beat the field by 81 seconds. Coach Lars Porter’s girls and boys swept championships.

CLASS 5A GIRLS: Freshman Isabel Valenzuela clocked 18:21.33 to cross the finish line first for the third year in a row and St. Paul’s Episcopal won the school’s 19th girls’ championship overall but first in 16 years. Valenzuela bested her 2015 winning time by more than two seconds.

Alexandria’s Abby Nunnelly ran in fifth (19:32.49) and the Valley Cubs finished fifth as a team. Nunnelly got boxed in early in the race, but broke free and caught up to the lead pack.

“I didn’t start out like I wanted to, but I was pretty proud of myself because the second mile I got up those hills real fast,” she said. “When I looked back there was no one behind me so I was pretty happy I got up ahead and stayed in that group.”

It was her third straight top 5 finish. She finished second two years ago and was third last year. She’ll have two more shots to win the race.

“I care about my placing very much, but I try not to let it get in my head and focus more on my time,” she said. “A PR is really what you want to be because that’s going to stay forever.”

CLASS 4A GIRLS: Sophomore Amaris Tyynismaa of Montgomery Catholic swept her third 4A state championship, running an 18:07.76, the third fastest girls’ time of the day in all classes. Randolph won the team championship.

Jacksonville’s Rebecca Hearn finished eighth – where she was seeded — and couldn’t have been happier. She didn’t get her all-time PR, but her season-best 19:57.08 did help her meet two of her adjusted goals — breaking 20 and finishing in the top 10.

“Eight’s my lucky number; that’s the best number I could get personally,” she said. “I know some of the girls who were seeded 12th and stuff ended up finishing ahead of me, but I stayed right where I was seeded; I’m glad I didn’t fall back. I know sixth was right there ahead of me, but I’m happy with eighth.”

Even her bib number ended in an 8 — 998

For much of the race Hearn was jockeying for position with Randolph runners and the three of them were feeding off each other’s pace. She heard the crowd yelling at the pack as they passed and she used it to her benefit.

“I was in a sea of them,” she said. “You could hear their fans the whole way like ‘Randolph, Randolph, Randolph,’ it kind of sounds like Rebecca because it’s an ‘R,’ so I was like ‘OK, thank you.’

“It was just about being staying focused the whole race. That’s what we talked about. Sometimes I like zone out and let people take over, but this time I was completely in every step, thinking about what I needed to do to stay up there. I thought I might be able to get those girls at the end. I definitely went for it, it just wasn’t there.”

CLASS 1A/2A GIRLS: Westminster of Oak Mountain placed four runners in the Top 12 Saturday to lead the Lady Knights to their first girls’ state cross country championship. The winners posted four times under 21 minutes to score 42 points.

This story will be updated.

Oakville Indian Mounds Park & Museum, Moulton

Girls Team Champion:
Westminster-Oak Mountain.
Girls Individual Champion: Hannah Tarwater, Whitesburg Christian 19:18.73.
County runners: 37. Libby Davis, Donoho 22:38.57; Savannah Frickey, Donoho 22:39.16; 60. Shelley Phillips, Faith Christian 24:21.99.

Boys team scores: St. Bernard 58, Cold Springs 64, Westminster-Oak Mountain 85, Altamont 124, Whitesburg Christian 129, Hatton 131, Holy Spirit 157, Athens Bible 180, Asbury 205, Mars Hill 259, Pleasant Home 293, Donoho 328.
Boys Individual Champion: Casey Guthery, St. Bernard 16:33.57.
Donoho Top 5: (team points in parenthesis) 62. (54) Kam Thomas 19:42.07; 65. (56) Joseph O’Neill 19:45.95; 67. (57) Bradey Goodson 19:48.97; 121. (79) Garret Green 24:24.10; 124. (82) Ross Hagan 22:57.54.
County runners: 52. Michael Austadillo, Sacred Heart 19:23.30; 64. Jack Sills, Faith Christian 19:43.25; 73. Daniel Clark, Faith Christian 19:55.42.

Girls team scores:
Randolph 55, Catholic-Montgomery 65, West Limestone 69, UMS-Wright 160, Wilson 160, Rogers 176, St. James 177, Ashville 188, Jacksonville 226, DAR 240, White Plains 243, Sipsey Valley 250.
Girls Top 3: Amaris Tyynismaa, Catholic-Montgomery 18:07.76; Presley Miles, St. James 18:48.11; Isabelle Cochran, Catholic-Montgomery 19:13.98.
Jacksonville Top 5: 8. (8) Rebecca Hearn 19:57.08; 34. (30) Mary Shelton 21:40.22; 83. (57) Kennedy Sparks 23:51.98; 92. (64) Kim Rupp 24:37.71; 95. (67) Shelby Ausborn 25:10.56.
White Plains Top 5: 48. (38) Briar Poytress 22:09.84; 58. (42) Alyssa Hudgins 22:28.21; 73. (50) Adrianna Sotelo 23:28.33; 81. (55) Chasity Nelson 23:46.69; 84. (58) Madeline Weathington 24:05.93.

Boys team scores: LAMP (Loveless) 88, Randolph 90, Trinity Presbyterian 95, Northside 105, Catholic-Montgomery 110, Haleyville 131, Rogers 185, West Limestone 197, Westminster Christian 202, Ashville 218, White Plains 265, Sipsey Valley 300.
Boys Top 3: Tanner King, Northside 16:22.32; Will Oglesby, Madison Academy 16:25.55; Matthew Estopinal, Randolph 16:31.66.
White Plains Top 5: 42. (32) Chase Crandall 17:51.60; 63. (48) Jake Moore 18:32.24; 76. (56) Isaiah Verde 18:56.79; 91. (64) Matthew Moore 19:24.49; 93. (65) Kayd Hightower 19:26.19.
County runners: 49. Kevin Barajas, Jacksonville 18:05.52; 67. Braxton McFall, Jacksonville 18:37.61; 80. Rayburn Price, Saks 19:09.15

Girls team scores:
St. Paul’s 54, Scottsboro 57, Lawrence County 60, Guntersville 125, Alexandria 126, Faith Academy 180, Briarwood Christian 193, Brooks 202, Russellville 236, Demopolis 305, Central-Clay County 315, Valley 337.
Girls Top 3: Isabel Valenzuela, St. Paul’s 18:21.33; Karsyn Whitehead, Scottsboro 19:16.16; Lexie Burfield, Lawrence County 19:25.68.
Alexandria Top 5: 5. (5) Abby Nunnelly 19:32.49; 30. (25) Michaela Watts 21:28.33; 31. (26) Destiny Heathcock 21:29.81; 41. (32) Sarah Kilgore 21:49.03; 56. (38) Molly Parker 22:27.99.

Boys Team Champion: Scottsboro.
Boys Individual Champion: Colton Smith, Scottsboro 16:09.60.
County runners: 45. Luis Rodriguez, Alexandria 18:18.50; 46. Gannon Womack, Alexandria 18:20.48.

Girls Team Champion:
Girls Individual Champion: Lainey Phelps, Homewood 18:02.13.
County runners: 23. Madison Reeder, Oxford 20:55.23; 34. Toni Coley, Oxford 21:33.62.

Boys Team Champion: Homewood
Boys Individual Champion: Will Stone, Homewood 16:01.40.
County runners: 39. Reed Robinson, Oxford 17:55.74.

Donoho teammates Libby Davis and Savannah Frickey run together and finish together in the top 40 of Saturday's 1A-2A girls race. (Photo by Laura A. Phillips)

Donoho teammates Libby Davis and Savannah Frickey run together and finish together in the top 40 of Saturday’s 1A-2A girls race. (Photo by Laura A. Phillips)

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