E.A. Sports Today

Inviting success

Pleasant Valley girls, White Plains boys win Twilight Invite team titles; Donoho’s Simmons, WP’s Moore win individual races

Taylor Simmons recently transferred to Donoho and won her first cross country race with the Lady Falcons in Thursday’s season-opener. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
Taylor Simmons was running for a new team on a new stage. Jake Moore was running in complete new conditions. Both of them handled it well.
Simmons transferred to Donoho from Atlanta’s Providence Christian Academy a few weeks ago and toed the line with her new team for the first time Thursday. She ran down Ohatchee pacesetter Jayda Fair in the final 300 yards to win the girls race of the White Plains Wildcat Twilight Invite in 22:30.75. 
Moore, who has overcome several injuries throughout his career, ran through a driving thunderstorm nobody practices in and went wire-to-wire to win the boys race in 17:46.41.
“It was great, I’m excited about it,” Simmons said. “I didn’t know if I was expecting that, but I’m glad it happened. I was praying to God please help me with this race. You’ve helped me so far in my move here. All glory to Him.”
Her mom’s family is from Oxford and the family relocated to Munford because Simmons’ dad got a new job that allowed him to move anywhere in the Southeast. In addition to track and cross country the junior also is interested in singing and acting and plans to be active in Donoho’s fine arts program.

Auditions for the fall theatrical season begin Monday, but she already has the lead on the cross country team.
Simmons was the top runner at her former school and ran in the Junior Olympics this summer and her arrival is a big boost to the Lady Falcons’ chances for success. Donoho didn’t have enough runners to score a complete team last year, but with the addition of Simmons and her sister, coach Hayley Long is looking at a potential of an historic season.
“God gave me a good gift,” Long said. “We had four girls last year so we didn’t even have a team and I’ve had one girl who went from an 11-minute pace to a 7:30 to eight-minute pace last year, so to have her and Taylor this will be huge for our program. The girls have a really good chance to go to state as a team for the first time in Donoho history.”
A light drizzle fell just as the girls race began, but dissipated quickly. The boys race started under clear skies, but thunder clapped about six minutes in, lightning flashed a minute later with the race fully engaged and the skies opened shortly thereafter for the remainder of the race. It stopped just long enough for Moore to handle his post-race interview and then opened up again on the rest of the field.
“It was fun,” Moore said. “The first half it was nice and easy. When it started raining around the one-mile it made me feel like I had an extra boost of energy. I wasn’t getting hot and it kept cooling me off every time I felt the rain. I hope it makes me feel when it gets really hot I can push through it.”
Moore led a 1-4-5 White Plains finish (1-3-4 for points) that helped the Wildcats win the boys race for the first time. Pleasant Valley won the girls race for the third year in a row behind by Trinity Roberts’ fourth-place finish and three runners in the top 10.
“I have to say my boys have fully bought into this season, fully bought into each other,” White Plains coach John Moore said. “They are practicing all summer long, calling each other to go run, holding each other accountable and I knew going into the season off what they had done they were going to have a good season. They’re looking at the state … I’ve got three seniors on the team and they really, really want to go out on top.”

To see more photos from the race, click this link: www.bjfranklin.smugmug.com
Girls Race
Team scores:
Pleasant Valley 56, White Plains 83, Pell City 98, Glencoe 106, Ohatchee 128, Alexandria 183, Jacksonville 215, Donoho 240, Clay Central 241, Madison Academy 253, Faith Christian 286, Handley 296, Lincoln 306, Saks 405, Asbury 459.
Top 15 individuals
(Course record: Abby Nunnelly, Alexandria, 20:30.00, October 2017)
Taylor Simmons, Donoho 22:30.75
Jayda Fair, Ohatchee 22:40.91
Caroline Pinson, Pell City 23:13.34
Trinity Roberts, Pleasant Valley 23:17.61
Katie Giles, Glencoe 23:28.12
Olivia King, Jacksonville 23:31.16
Emma Hood, Pleasant Valley 23:54.49
Michaela Watts, Alexandria 23:55.52
Eva Bryant, Pleasant Valley 23:57.30
Savannah Yates, White Plains 23:59.61
Anna Beth Giles, Glencoe 24:35.90
Camden Wilson, White Plains 24:43.82
Adriana Sotelo, White Plains 24:46.50
Emelia Askew, Handley 25:04.87
Lylee Isbell, Pell City 25:06.77
Boys Race
Team scores:
White Plains 30, Pleasant Valley 85, Madison Academy 107, Alexandria 145, Pell City 149, Clay Central 154, Lincoln 161, Ohatchee 165, Handley 263, Jacksonville 313, Asbury 329, Jacksonville Christian 339, Glencoe 352, Faith Christian 382, Saks 416.
Top 15 individuals
(Course record: Brett Bonikowski, LAMP, 17:22.71, August 2018)
Jake Moore, White Plains 17:46.41
Jack Lowe, Pell City 18:06.12
Christian Myles, Anniston 18:31.95
James Middlebrooks, White Plains 18:35.45
Luke Larson, White Plains 18:42.04
Cayden Nelson, Pleasant Valley 19:02.21
Ronald Piedra, Clay Central 19:17.50
Carter Busby, Madison Academy 19:19.92
J.R. Proctor, Lincoln 19:20.01
Kayd Hightower, White Plains 19:27.69
Coleman Haynes, Pleasant Valley 19:28.30
Luke Fair, Ohatchee 19:32.28
Aidan Golden, Pell City 19:34.85
Carson Limbaugh, White Plains 19:36.52
Jonah Medders, Alexandria 19:55.00
Scoring by Xpress Timing

The boys race started under sunny skies, but conditions soon deteriorated. (Photo by B.J. Franklin)

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