E.A. Sports Today

Matter of seconds

Both Pleasant Valley teams finish second at state cross-country finals; T.R. Miller ends girls run, PV boys make run at ACA

Pleasant Valley’s two cross country teams pose with their matching state runner-up trophies before heading back to Calhoun County.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

MOULTON — Both Pleasant Valley cross-country teams brought state trophies back to Calhoun County Saturday.

They might not have been the color they really wanted when the season began, and the way they were accepted was purely a matter of perspective.

Both PV teams finished second in their respective Class 3A races at the Oakville Indian Mounds course, bringing home red runner-up hardware. For the boys, it was a nice reward in a race they likely weren’t going to win. For the girls, who won state titles each of the last two years here, it was a letdown.

T.R. Miller ended PV’s hold on the girls’ blue trophy when it put four of its five scorers in the top 20 (and the fifth at 21) and scored 59 points to the Lady Raiders’ 86 for its first state title. It marked the first time the Lady Raiders had lost a scored meet since they finished second in the 2015 Calhoun County Meet.

The PV boys made a run at heavily favored American Christian, but ACA went 1-2 and put four of its five scorers in the top 10 to finish with 34 points to PV’s 55 to win for the second year in a row. The two teams had seven of the top eight finishers in the race.

“I hate it for our seniors,” PV coach Brad Hood said. “If this were a team full of seniors this would have been really tough, but I think we’re young, this could motivate us to push forward.

“The boys, this year is to prepare for next year. Their mission was yeah go for it and win it but we may not beat ACA but they’re going to know we’re here – and we had three in the top 10.”

Individually, reigning county champions Matisse Miller of Pleasant Valley (3A) and Abby Nunnelly of Alexandria (5A) both finished fourth in their respective individual races. PV ninth-grader Trinity Roberts was the highest county placer with a third in the 3A girls race. The county produced 11 all-state runners – those who finished in the top 15 of their races.

The PV girls’ defense got a big boost when Roberts (19:51.85) and eighth-grader Gracie Hood (21:05.20) finished third and 12th, respectively. But the Lady Raiders lost ground when senior Rachel Faucett, their most decorated track and cross-country athlete and typically their No. 2 runner, slipped to 45th while courageously fighting through a weeklong illness that put her through a restless night before the race.

Hood hoped the team’s depth and signature pack running could have carried them through, but it didn’t happen.

“You wish you could come here and run your best race but it takes everyone being healthy,” Hood said. “And I think when they saw Rachel was in the back it kind of messed with them a little bit. Where really it should motivate you to pick up the slack, it just kind of mentally sapped them.”

“We did our best,” Gracie Hood said. “They (T.R. Miller) had the run of their lives out there. It kind of punches you in the heart (to finish second), but … maybe it’ll drive it us more.”

The PV boys, meanwhile, ran their best race of the year, beating their school-record five-man race average by one second and closing the gap projected in the virtual race. Miller and Skyler Mcleod finished 4-5 and Jacob Gladen was seventh.

“They were on fire,” Hood said. “I don’t think they could have run a second faster.”

Miller entered the race with the fastest time in 3A this season, but was a little dehydrated by the conditions and could feel is body shutting down at various points in the race. He ran 17:02.56 in his final AHSAA race and finished behind two ACA runners and a runner from Elkmont.

“As a team we did phenomenal,” Miller said. “We weren’t picked to win, we weren’t supposed to win and we knew from the beginning that we probably wouldn’t win but it wasn’t one of those give-up things. It was give it your best and go out with a bang; let them know we’re here and not a pushover team.”

The Pleasant Valley boys cross country team stands with its red second-place trophy from the Class 3A championship race. On the cover, the PV girls stand with their second-place trophy.

Team scores:
American Christian 34, Pleasant Valley 55, Bayside Academy 88, T.R. Miller 133, JB Pennington 137, Houston Academy 150, Montgomery Academy 158, Elkmont 201, Pisgah 210, Brindlee Mountain 292, Prattville Christian 319, Colbert Heights148.

Individual top 15 (all-state): Taylor Ray, ACA 16:40.81; David Barrett, ACA 16:46.45; Chase Prater, Elkmont 16:52.83; Matisse Miller, PV 17:02.56; Skyler Mcleod, PV 17:07.63; Joseph Wohlers, ACA 17:11.54; Jacob Gladen, PV 17:18.35; Brock Isom, ACA 17:18.98; Blake Noah, Ohatchee 17:21.72; Conner Lowery, Holly Pond 17:26.24; Ernest Ladd, Bayside 17:28.57; Myles Cook, Bayside 17:29.51; Will Franklin, Montgomery Academy 17:30.66; Aaron Brown, Hanceville 17:34.66; Gabe Hammonds, Ohatchee 17:36.35.

Team scores:
T.R. Miller 59, Pleasant Valley 86, American Christian 99, Bayside Academy 125, Montgomery Academy 135, Pisgah 186, Lexington 190, Ohatchee 205, Brindlee Mountain 209, Providence Christian 248, Indian Springs 258, Colbert Heights 271.

Individual top 15 (all-state): Olivia Blackmon, T.R. Miller 18:56.99; Becca Billman, ACA 19:27.52; Trinity Roberts, PV 19:51.85; Isabella Rowland, Montgomery Academy 19:59.78; Mary Catherine Branyon, Bayside 20:14.98; Jordan Thompson, T.R. Miller 20:29.78; Harper Roberts, ACA 20:38.13; Camilla Chambers, Holly Pond 20:47.19; Kasey Eziekel, Colbert Heights 20:48.59; Grace Crim, Providence Christian 20:52.78; Lauren West, Bayside 20:58.06; Gracie Hood, PV 21:05.20; Brittany Caywood, Ohatchee 21:23.09; Theresa Billman, ACA 21:25.30; Abigail Thomas, Straughn 21:26.39.

Girls: Westminster-Oak Mountain, Hatton; champion: Leahrose Mami, St. Bernard 19:24.33. Boys: Westminster-Oak Mountain, Cold Springs; champion: Andrew Sweeney, St. Bernard 16:02.56

CLASS 3A – Girls: T.R. Miller, Pleasant Valley; champion: Olivia Blackmon, T.R. Miller 18:56.99. Boys: American Christian, Pleasant Valley; champion: Taylor Ray, ACA 16:40.81.

CLASS 4A – Girls: Randolph, Montgomery Catholic; champion: Amaris Tyynismaa, Montgomery Catholic 17:14.37. Boys: Trinity Presbyterian, Montgomery Catholic; champion: Tanner King, Northside 15:55.57.

CLASS 5A – Girls: Scottsboro, Lawrence County; champion: Olivia Andrews, Faith Academy 18:59.40. Boys: Scottsboro, St. John Paul II; champion: Zack Howard, Briarwood 16:16.17.

CLASS 6A – Girls: Fort Payne, Homewood; champion: Mary Claire Ridgeway, Florence 18:20.05. Boys: Homewood, Cullman; champion: Will Stone, Homewood 15:46.20.

CLASS 7A – Girls: Auburn, Huntsville; champion: Grace Jensen, McGill-Toolen 18:00.51.
Boys: Mountain Brook, Huntsville; champion: James Sweeney, Vestavia Hills 15:38.75.

Pleasant Valley’s Matisse Miller (2267) moves to gain ground coming into the first mile of Saturday’s Class 3A state championship race.

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