E.A. Sports Today

White Plains sweeps

Wildcats win first county cross-country titles in two of the closest races in history; Moore, Fair win individual crowns

White Plains’ Jake Moore hits the tape after winning the Calhoun Country Cross Country boys race.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

JACKSONVILLE —The White Plains boys, inspired perhaps by a fiery (and uncharacteristic) football-coach-like pre-race speech by coach John Moore, won the closest race in Calhoun County Meet history Thursday when they edged reigning 3A state champion Pleasant Valley by one point to complete a Wildcats sweep.

The individual races weren’t close, but the team races couldn’t have been tighter.

Led by race winner Jake Moore (16:46.56), the coach’s son, the Wildcats scored 46 points to PV’s 47.

Laralee Church (L) ran down two Pleasant Valley runners in the final 300 yards to give the White Plains girls the edge they needed.

They went 1-4-7-16-18 among their counters. PV went 2-3-13-14-15. Anniston’s Christian Myles was second overall, but didn’t count in the team scoring.
“That is two excellent teams that put it all out there today,” Moore the coach said. “One point.”

How close was it? Jake Moore beat Myles across the line by one minute, 12 seconds. The next 14 runners, including all five Pleasant Valley counters, were separated by less than a minute. The leaders were tied after each’s first two runners crossed but Luke Larson’s next-best seventh counter provided the cushion with a six-point gap over the next PV pack and White Plains’ last two stayed just close enough to keep the Wildcats in front.

The White Plains girls edged PV 61-67 with seventh-grader Laralee Church playing a critical role. The Lady Wildcats’ fifth scorer passed two PV runners in the final 300 yards to secure the team’s victory.

Moore was still over the moon about the girls’ finish when he met with the boys prior to the start of their race and went a little over the top.

“I feel bad I was chewing on the boys,” John Moore said. “I went over there and went on a rant right before (the race). My son never really sees me hollaring and screaming. The girls did so good and I was so proud of the teamwork and the push at the end and all that stuff, I said if you guys can’t deliver a performance like that don’t talk to me after this race.

“That’s not great. I never say stuff like that. I just don’t know if they would’ve won without me doing all that crazy stuff. I went off like some football coach on them over there. They’re not used that, they’re not used to me yelling and screaming.”

Jake Moore remembers it one time.

“A couple years ago he was mad because there wasn’t anybody trying,” he said. “He doesn’t ever yell at us like that. I know it pumped everybody else up. I was already fired up.”

Ohatchee’ senior Jayda Fair won the girls race is 21:00.48. The race got off to a balky start as the field was called back to the start with Fair at the base of the first hill because a runner had fallen in the mass of humanity inside the first 100 yards of the start.
She regained her bearings at the restart, but got boxed in going through the funnel exiting the football field and again on the hill, but took the lead at the top of the first hill and stayed there. She was 35 seconds ahead of runner-up Olivia King of Jacksonville.
“The false start set me back a little bit because when we went out again I had a hard time getting around the pack,” Fair said. “I had to sprint up the hill to compensate for that, so the first mile was on pace but the second mile was a little off so I had to pick it up. People were telling me on the course how far away the second girl was, so I knew if I had to speed up or slow down or I was fine.”
The ending was just as dramatic as the start with Church pushing herself to catch the two Pleasant Valley runners ahead of her. She only had about 20 yards to make up when they entered the football stadium, but closed like a veteran. When she hit the finish Moore said he just about cried.
“I was like oh my gosh this is going to make us county champs,” Church said. “If I pass these two I’ll make everybody proud of me.” 

“That’s the stuff that gold is made out of,” Moore said. “We’re going to have to hoist her on our shoulders.”
Both race winners have overcome significant injuries during their careers making Thursday’s win even more meaningful.

This was White Plains’ first county title in cross country. Pleasant Valley swept the races last year and had won each of the three previous girls titles. The Raiders had been first or second in both races each of the last six years.
Interestingly, each of the last three odd-numbered-year races have been too close to call and this one fell right in line. The previous two boys races in even-numbered years were decided by 21 and 25 points; the last two odd-numbered races by 3 and 8. The last three girls races in even-numbered years were decided by 18, 16 and 15 points, while the margin in the last two odd-numbered years was 9 and 3.
John Moore said PV coach Brad Hood called the narrow margin the other day.
“A couple days ago he said y’all beat me by two,” Moore said. “I said aw, man, I don’t know about that. He said, nope, you beat me by two. So, Brad’s a genius over there, man. John the Prophet. Nick Saban of cross country and John the Prophet on the point tally today.”

While the Raiders might have been stung by the margin of defeat, Hood wasn’t disappointed in the big picture. Every PV boys runner ran their personal best as did 11 of its 12 girls, all of which bodes well for the two biggest races yet to come. 

Ohatchee’s Jayda Fair hits the finish to win the Calhoun County girls race.

Team scores:
White Plains 46, Pleasant Valley 47, Oxford 85, Ohatchee 110, Alexandria 118, Jacksonville 182, Jacksonville Christian 210, Faith Christian 217, Donoho 256, Saks 282, Sacred Heart 303.
Race winner: Jake Moore, White Plains 16:46.56.

Individual Top 15
Jake Moore, White Plains 16:46.56
Christian Myles, Anniston 17:58.03
Cayden Nelson, Pleasant Valley 18:01.08
Coleman Haynes, Pleasant Valley 18:02.77
James Middlebrooks, White Plains 18:04.68
Noah George, Oxford 18:04.72
Luke Fair, Ohatchee 18:14.58
Luke Larson, White Plains 18:14.58
Jonah Medders, Alexandria 18:15.94
Evan Garner, Jacksonville 18:21.41
Parker Comisac, Jacksonville 18:22.79
Josue Alvarez, Oxford 18:24.09
Dalton Fitch, Ohatchee 18:25.34
Oliver Young, Pleasant Valley 18:34.43
Kaige Roberts, Pleasant Valley 18:50.55

Team scores:
White Plains 61, Pleasant Valley 67, Alexandria 88, Ohatchee 95, Oxford 121, Jacksonville 121, Donoho 172, Saks 237, Sacred Heart 264.
Race winner: Jayda Fair, Ohatchee 21:00.48.

Individual Top 15
Jayda Fair, Ohatchee 21:00.48
Olivia King, Jacksonville 21:35.06
Taylor Simmons, Donoho 21:46.33
Savannah Yates, White Plains 21:59.73
Katie Keur, Oxford 22:04.66
Michaela Moore, Alexandria 22:12.27
Sarah Sloughfy, Jacksonville 22:15.97
Michaela Watts, Alexandria 22:21.97
Trinity Roberts, Pleasant Valley 22:26.04
Eva Bryant, Pleasant Valley 22:33.26
Anna Strickland, White Plains 22:59.77
Adriana Sotelo, White Plains 22:59.79
Mia Munoz, Oxford 23:00.11
Emma Hood, Pleasant Valley 23:19.72
Elizabeth Hall, Pleasant Valley 23:26.83

Photos by Tony Bedford

You must be logged in to post a comment Login