|AHSAA Alabama |
Oakville Indian Mounds Park, Moulton AL
November 8, 2008
|Clean sweeps for Mountain Brook, Scottsboro|
- Despite loss by favored Madeline Morgan to Sparkman’s Katie Huston, Mountain Brook places seven runners in top 15 to claim sixth straight 6A girls crown
- Mountain Brook’s boys best archrival Hoover by eight
- Chitwood’s victory helps pace Scottsboro’s girls to eighth straight 5A girls championship
- Sieb leads Scottsboro’s boys’ victory
By Arthur L. Mack
OAKVILLE, ALA. Saturday, November 8--No doubt about it, Mountain Brook and Scottsboro were the talk of the meet after both swept their respective divisions in the Alabama High School Athletic Association Cross Country Championships at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park.
Mountain Brook put six runners in the top 10 to crush Bob Jones 26-128 and win the 6A girls’ title, despite Madeline Morgan’s loss to Sparkman’s Katie Huston. McGill-Toolen was third with 140.
On the 6A boys’ side, Mountain Brook used team balance and an off day by Hoover’s Patrick McGregor to defeat the Bucs, 67-75, with Auburn (led by Patrick Gomez’s winning time of 15 minutes, 50.75 seconds) third with 88 points.
Scottsboro’s girls continued their domination of 5A, winning their eighth title by defeating St. Paul’s, 23-76, with Briarwood Christian third (105). On the boys’ side, Scottsboro, led by Lucas Sieb’s win, came out on top over Briarwood Christian (44-53), with Spanish Fort third (76) and defending champion St. Paul’s fourth (100).
UMS-Wright, as expected, won the 4A boys crown, using a 1-2-3-4 finish to smash Lawrence County, 17-57. On the girls side, Rogers placed four runners in the top 10 to defeat UMS-Wright, 24-46.
Montgomery Academy outscored T.R. Miller, 40-47, to win a hotly contested 3A girls title, while Randolph defeated Montgomery Academy, 31-72, to take the 3A boys’ crown. In 1A-2A, American Christian defeated Athens Bible, 43-85, to win the girls’ division, while Hatton defeated Athens Bible, 46-62, to win the 1A-2A boys title.
Here are the highlights of the meet.
No doubt about it—Mountain Brook wanted to make a statement in the 6A boys and girls divisions.
That statement was this—if one runner has a bad day, somebody would be there to take up the slack.
That proved to be true in the 6A girls, where Mountain Brook’s Madeline Morgan, who some felt would run away with the girls race, found the going tough and wound up being beaten by Sparkman’s Katie Huston, an outstanding runner in her own right.
As expected, Morgan went out at a fast pace, with Huston on her shoulder. That changed in a hurry just before the second mile, when Huston made her move before the series of winding hills and turns through a wooded area known as “The Snake.” Once Huston emerged from The Snake with the lead, the race, for all intents and purposes, was over. Though having to struggle to maintain her form, Huston won with an impressive 18:05.34.
Morgan struggled from that point on, and was even passed by one of her own teammates, Marie Demedicis, who finished second in 18:17.80. Morgan, though, managed to hang on for third (18:44.27).
Huston said later that she was running in memory of a man who was a surrogate grandfather to her, McKinley James, who passed away prior to the meet. In addition, she wanted to maintain contact with Morgan.
“He was on my mind during the race,” she said. “During the race, I was just trying to stay with her (Morgan). At the beginning of the race, I was feeling pretty good, but I was thinking about time and just staying up there with her so I wouldn’t get too far behind. I felt good (through the second mile), but then after the hills my arms got heavy, but I worked it all they through. (It seems like) most of the time whoever comes out first is probably the one who always wins. I don’t know—that’s what always happens, and I don’t know if it’s true.”
But even with Morgan faltering near the end, the Lady Spartans had more than enough to with their sixth straight title—and eighth in the last nine years.
“We preached team all along,” coach Greg Echols said. “We had six of the top nine, and a big part of what we try to do is if one is off, the other picks up the slack. Marie ran great, and some of our young runners ran good. Leslie Boozer had a wisdom tooth taken out two weeks ago and she wasn’t able to run at all, but she had a tremendous race. You preach ‘team,’ and it takes a lot of the pressure off the lead kid, because you’re expected to win, and anything short of winning is failure. To Madeline’s credit, she hung on and got the third place. It took a lot of courage to hang on, cause she was hurting.”
In the 6A boys’ competition, the stage was set for the two Patricks—Hoover’s Patrick McGregor and Auburn’s Patrick Gomez—to battle for the individual title. But McGregor, after going through the first mile in 4:43, faltered, opening the door for Gomez to win the race in 15:50.75, just ahead of Mountain Brook’s Layton Dorsett (15:52.27). McGregor paid for the early pace, finishing eighth (16:19.62)
Gomez said he came into the race knowing he would have a chance of winning.
“On the starting line, I was really confident in what I could do,” he said. “When we hit the mile, I knew it was a little bit faster than we intended to go out and I kept him (McGregor) in my sight the whole time and saw him weaken up a little bit, so I surged past him after two miles and hold on. Today was more of a strategy race.”
While Gomez was cruising to an individual win, Mountain Brook was taking care of business team-wise. The Spartans bunched four more runners in places 12 through 20, while Hoover’s number five runner managed only 36th place overall, assuring Mountain Brook of the win.
“Layton came back and had a super individual finish, and eight of our guys got ahead of the second-place team’s fifth. All year long, they’ve gotten better and better and worked as a team,” said Echols. “It’s a tremendous effort for them. They had a great summer and it really paid dividends.”
To see Scottsboro at work dominating the 5A competition, one would have never known that behind the teamwork and smiles, there was some adversity that had to be overcome.
But Scottsboro’s girls, using a first-place finish by Caitlin Chitwood (18:52.32), and placing runners fourth through seventh (Haley Hancock, 19:24.08; Hannah Thompson, 19:33.14; Jamie Delay, 19:44.73; and Maggie Thompson 19:56.09), came through in a big way, routing St. Paul’s, whose leading runner, Margaret Harkness (third, 19:13.76) suffered a fall around mile two after contending for the lead.
Chitwood said near the end, she knew she had to make a move, because Briarwood Christian’s Mallory Mathias, the eventual second-place finisher, along with Harkness, was still pretty much in contention.
“I made a move about 900 meters to go, I guess,” Chitwood said. “My pace was pretty consistent until the last 400 meters or so and then went with what I had left. I just wanted to lay back (at the beginning) and hope she (Harkness) started out fast and didn’t have a kick. Coming into the meet, our team’s plan was to do your best, and go by position, not time,” she said. Our goal was to stay together.”
“It was one of the toughest years we’ve had as far as injuries, but they came back,” said coach John Eslinger. “We didn’t get the whole team back completely until just before state. Haley didn’t even run in sectionals because she was just getting over a stress fracture.”
Sieb managed to outlast St. Paul’s Stuart Graham in the boys 5A race, winning in 16:23.99. Graham hung on for second (16:29.41), but St. Paul’s was able to place only one other runner in the top 20. Briarwood Christian, led by third-place finisher Andrew Darwin (16:31.87), had four runners in the top 15, and Spanish Fort, led by John Redman’s eighth-place finish (16:58.09), placed four in the top 16.
But a sixth place finish by freshman Evan McGee (16:53.15), and a seventh place finish by senior Drew Deerman (16:53.73), was more than enough for Scottsboro.
“Our boys had a tough, tough race, and with teams like Briarwood, St. Paul’s and Spanish Fort, that makes you nervous,” said Eslinger. “It was anybody’s race this year, so I was proud of my boys after a three-year dry spell.”
One word described Rogers’ girls and UMS-Wright’s boys in their quest for division titles—domination.
Rogers used a 1-2-3 finish by Katie Stewart (19:31.82), Taylor Matthews (19:56.45) and Alyssa Tingle (20:00.62), along with Alyssa Cabler’s sixth-place (20:32.62), to clinch the 4A girls title win over UMS-Wright.
All five of Rogers’ scorers took All-State honors in the process, as did UMS-Wright’s, but the 1-2-3 finish was too much for UMS-Wright to overcome.
UMS-Wright’s boys returned the favor in a huge way, howeverf, as Robert Willett led virtually all the way to win in 16:46.77. He had plenty of help from freshman Dan Drew (second, 17:16.76), senior Tucker McFarlane (third, 17:22.02) and junior Richie Huetteman (fourth, 17:30 21).
All seven eligible runners for UMS-Wright, including Sterling Rivers (eighth, 18:03.82), Kelley Cutrell (10th, 18:18.40) and Haddon Mullins (15th 18:44.90) were named to the All-State team.
“It was a heck of a race,” said UMS-Wright coach Pat Galle. “I’ve been preaching to them about pushing out front and making the competition run at us. Robert took it out, just as we planned. We had a teacher, Blair Newman, whose been hospitalized for three months, and we wanted to dedicate this race to her and her family.
We wanted to dominate, and I’m pretty sure we did,” said Willett. “I hit the two-mile mark in the time I wanted, around 10:20. I wanted to go negative splits, but there was nobody around to push me.”
Randolph’s boys and Montgomery Academy’s girls got team wins in two different ways.
Montgomery Academy’s girls beat T.R. Miller of Brewton, but had some luck in the process. MA’s Maggie Rickard was the overall winner in 19:11.86, and teammate Jenny Wool was fifth in 20:08.78.
In between, there were three T.R. Miller runners—seventh-grader Karissa Nelson (19:17.27, eighth-grader Shelby Youngblood (19:45.11) and Karissa’s twin sister Katie (19:47.40). In addition, Amber Nelson was sixth behind Wool.
Ordinarily, that would all but assure a win in many meets, but T.R. Miller’s number five runner was 39th overall and 32nd in scoring, while Montgomery Academy managed to place four more runners in the top 20.
Randolph, from nearby Huntsville, concluded an excellent season, scoring 2-5-6-8-10 to easily win the 3A boys crown. Leading the way was Keith Buell (fourth overall, 17:16.08), Patrick Wingo (seventh overall, 17:28.40) and freshman Leland Collins (eighth overall, 17:31.58).
While Montgomery Academy girls and Randolph’s boys were happy with team titles, Catholic-Huntsville’s Mark Fisher was the happiest runner in the division. After coming up short in the last two state meet races, he ran away from the field in the boys’ race, winning in 16:40.37.
Fisher was the only runner in the race to break 17 minutes, and he did it while being cautious on the course, which was muddy in spots following recent rain in the area.
“There were some parts of the course that were really, really muddy, so you had to take your time through that,” he said. “I knew I had the fastest time coming into the race, the other guys were going to try and hang with me and beat me at the end, so I had to pull away a lot, and that’s what I did. My first mile was 4:50, and I knew it would be fast because I heard the second mile was slow at the switchback. After a second and third place at state, I’m happy, finally.”
Cold Springs got individual wins from Palee Myrex (20:40.63) in the girls’ race, and Nathan Lewis in the boys’ (16:28.38), but in the end it was American Christian and Hatton who came up with the team wins.
American Christian got a second place finish in the girls’ race from Sara Gibson (20:54.54) and followed it up with fifth, sixth and ninth from Rachel Mills (21:43.17), Chandler Dare (21:58.37) and Chloe Rector (22:10.12) to defeat Athens Bible, led by Chelsea Burgess (fourth, 21:22.75)
Hatton’s Hornets relied on pack running, getting a fourth place finish from Zeke Nichols (17:33.29), with Jade Braken eighth (18:13.19), Casey Parker ninth (18:28.25) and Reid Harrison 10th (18:31.49). Kamron Potter’s 15th place finish (18:53.62) sealed the deal for Hatton.
Colby Phillips’ third place finish (16:48.81), and Cliff Denton’s fifth (17:48.59), paced Athens Bible.
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