By Al Muskewitz
Calhoun County, AL – The Pleasant Valley boys cross country team with eyes on a state championship this year won their biggest race of the season Saturday when they won the Small Schools division in the elite Chickasaw Trails Invitational on the course they will run for the state title. The Raiders placed all five runners among the top 30 counters and scored 88 points to win by a whopping 52 points over runnerup Hatton. Cold Springs, the team expected to be PV’s biggest challenger at state, was third with 142 points, but its best runner, Ethan Edgeworth, ran in the Large Schools race and posted the fastest time of the entire day (15:12.48).
Still, PV coach Brad Hood calculated, plugging Edgeworth into the 1 spot in the small schools race and bumping everyone else down a spot, the Raiders still would’ve won the meet by four. “A four-point difference in cross country, that’s close,” Hood said. “That’s like this football game we just watched, losing on a last-second field goal.” Of course, he was referring to the Texas-Alabama game, which he got home in time to watch the fourth-quarter finish.
The key to the Raiders’ win and their success down the road was their pack running. Cayden Nelson finished fourth (16:45.95), but their next four all ran in the second 15 counters between 17:58.11 and 18:33.32: Braxton Williams (17th counter/18th overall), Jaden Veazey (19/21), Alec Vess (21/23) and Matthew Walden (27/30). “Our 5 guy was like 18:33 and him being that far up was huge, being that close to our 3 and 4,” Hood said. “Where we’ve been struggling in the past two races was our 5 has been 20 spots behind that’s behind our 4. Today it would have been easy to be 20 behind because there were so many runners, but wasn’t. At the mile and two-mile they were literally within 10 seconds of each other.”
The PV girls finished seventh in their race with Macey Roper leading them across the line in 23:30.46. In the Large Schools Division, Oxford’s Noah George and Katie Keur both ran PRs in finishing seventh in their respective races. George ran a 15:43.64 in the boys race and the Yellow Jackets placed 18th as a team. Keur ran an 18:51.93 in the girls race, blasting her PR by 40 seconds, and the Lady Jackets placed 23rd. [*** read more]
Volunteer Spirit Classic
LINEVILLE – White Plains’ Maddyn Conn and Munford’s Dakota Frank won individual titles in Clay Central’s Volunteer Spirit Classic
Conn won the girls race in 19:25.1, more than three minutes ahead of Jacksonville’s Sarah Sloughfy. Frank won the boys race in 16:40.7, more than a minute ahead of Horseshoe Bend’s David Layfield.
Grand River Invitational
LEEDS – The Glencoe girls and Lincoln boys put all five of their counters in the top 10 and easily won their respective team titles in the Grand River Invitational. Glencoe’s No. 2 overall Katie Giles (22:50.13), No. 3 Sarah Ponder (23:17.03) and No. 5 Jaxson Sizemore (23:37.21) were the first three counters across the line in the girls race and the Lady Jackets scored 20 points.
Jack Wiggins (18:01.91) and Aaron Davis (18:06.17) finished 2-3 overall, five seconds apart, and led seven Lincoln runners in the overall top 10 as the Golden Bears scored 23 points. Their top five were separated by just 31 seconds and their top seven by 77 seconds.
Boys team scores: Lincoln 23, West Point 71, Glencoe 76, Boaz 96, Sardis 129, Locust Fork 177, Indian Springs 202, Leeds 204, Jefferson Christian 247, Westbrook Christian 302.
Girls team scores: Glencoe 20, Lincoln 45, Boaz 79, Leeds 116, Cornerstone 131.