E.A. Sports Today

Sectional standouts

Oxford boys, White Plains boys, Jacksonville girls all win sectional team titles; Conn, Keur win girls races

By East Alabama Sports Today

Two of Calhoun County’s top cross country teams qualified for the state championship meet Thursday, but their success going forward hinges on the availability of some of their top runners.

County champion Oxford won the Class 6A Section 5 title at Scottsboro with county champion and state contender Noah George fighting through flu-like symptoms to finish fourth.

County runner-up Pleasant Valley, which is expected to challenge Cold Springs for the Class 2A state title, finished second in the 1A-2A Section 3 race at Scottsboro without Alec Vess in the race.

“I would love to tell you something else, but Noah is pretty bad sick, so the fact that he was able to finish and able to run, that’s pretty much what I’m happy about,” Oxford coach Landon Delozier said.

The state meet is a week and a half away at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park. Whether the recent UAH commitment will be available remains to be seen. Delozier’s expectations is for this best cross country team in Oxford history to finish in the top three at state, but admitted the wild card now is where’s Noah?

“I keep telling him we’ve got nine days and you’re going to be back on top of your game,” Delozier said. “He’s ambitious. He works really hard. We’re going to get him doctored up and he’s going to be ready to go at state.

“The intention of sectionals is to be able to go to state. Section champ would have been nice and he’d probably tell you the same thing, but state champ matters even more than section champion. We’ve got to get him healthy and get him ready.”

With George under the weather, Evan Somers raced to a second-place finish (16:44.42) behind Cullman’s Andrue Barnett (16:16.36); George ran 16:52.83. The Jackets’ next four runners finished 9, 10, 13 and 14, less than 40 seconds apart. They beat Fort Payne by 15 points.

“The meat and potatoes was my 3 and 4 guy,” Delozier said. “My 3 guy (Andrew Nordan) ran a really big PR and my 4 guy (Isaac Williams) ran about a five-second PR, and that put them in ninth and tenth, which was really kind of the difference maker of the race.”

PV’s Cayden Nelson won the 1A-2A sectional race in 16:26.46, but without Vess, who finished fourth in last week’s county championship, the next four Raiders counters came in between 6 and 19 in a spread of about 90 seconds and they finished 10 points behind team winner Sand Rock. The section champs put their first four runners in the top 10 and all five counters in the top 12.

In the respective girls races, Oxford’s Katie Keur won the 6A sectional (18:22.30) and all four Lady Jackets who crossed the line qualified for state with multiple PRs. Pleasant Valley and Faith Christian qualified in the 1A-2A race with PV’s Macey Roper finishing second and Faith Christian’s Evie Garrett finishing third.

The Oxford boys’ team win and Keur’s individual win in the girls race are believed to be the school’s first sectional cross country titles.

Here’s a quick look at how the area teams did in their sectional races:

1A-2A in Scottsboro
Section winner Sand Rock, Pleasant Valley, Pisgah and Faith Christian qualified as teams. Jacksonville Christian’s Tyler Doggrell and Donoho’s Riley Goodson qualified as individuals.
Section winner Pisgah, Sand Rock, Pleasant Valley, Faith Christian qualified as teams. PV’s Macey Roper finished second (22:20.90) and Faith Christian’s Evie Garrett was third (22:22.97).

3A in Scottsboro
Glencoe’s Katie Giles (20:18.83) and Sarah Ponder (20:35.69) finished 1-3 in the race as the Lady Yellow Jackets qualified second as a team. Piedmont’s Mattie Todd finished fourth (21:24.03) and Claudia Dempsey was 22nd and both qualified as individuals.

3A in Montgomery
Ohatchee’s Gabe Ruffcorn qualified in the boys race as an individual. Ohatchee’s Ashlie Easterwood qualified in the girls race as an individual.

4A in Hoover
Winner White Plains, Ashville, Oneonta and Handley qualified as teams. Munford’s Dakota Frank won the race (17:16.60) and were joined by teammate Austin Wynn and Jacksonville’s Landon Garner, Colin Benoit and Colin Thurman as wild card qualifiers.
Jacksonville continued on the roll it started in winning the county championship, winning the section title ahead of team qualifiers White Plains, Oneonta and Ashville. White Plains’ Maddyn Conn won the race (19:44.04), while Jacksonville placed its first four runners ahead of White Plains’ next four (10-11-12-13). Munford’s Aubree Frank qualified as an individual.

5A in Tuscaloosa
Winner American Christian, Southside-Gadsden, Lincoln and Westminster-Oak Mountain qualified as teams. Alexandria’s Jonah Medders (17:45.63) qualified as an individual.
Winner Westminster-Oak Mountain, Southside-Gadsden, American Christian and Lincoln qualified as teams. Alexandria’s JoJo Watson finished third (19:59.12) and Michaela Moore was 14th and both qualified as individuals.

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