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Mobile Challenge of Champions

Fri.-Sat., September 11-12, 2009 - Langen Park, Mobile AL

DyeStat coverage by Walter Pinion, Arthur Mack

Meet's Own Site




It's Cali, Galindo, and a Collins Hill sweep

  • St. Thomas Aquinas LA sr Malia Cali broke Emily Reese's course record with a 17:48.26, while Collins Hill GA's top man Carlos Galindo topped Howard Graves' course mark with a 16:14.03
  • Collins Hill GA, with the SE#6 girls team and SE bubble team boys, swept both invitational races handily
Left: Malia Cali leads Nicky Akande early en route to victory on the girls side.  Right: Carlos Galindo outkicks teammate Nganda Gatei to win the boys race.  Below: Cali, Gatei, Galindo, Akande.  Photos Walter Pinion

Galindo and Cali lead course record-breaking charge at rainy challenge of champions meet

Collins hill dominates invitational boys and girls divisions, while Biloxi’s St. Patrick’s girls and Spanish Fort’s boys take open titles

Special Report by Arthur L. Mack

MOBILE, AL.—There was no threat from a hurricane, but there was plenty of rain—not real heavy rain, but a steady rain that made a deceptive course a little bit more challenging.

It didn’t stop Carlos Galindo of Collins Hill and Malia Cali of St. Thomas Aquinas as both sped to course records in the Invitational Divisions of the Mobile Challenge of Champions Meet.

Galindo held off teammate Nganda Gatei and Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcoal’s Stuart Graham as he won an exciting invitational boys’ race in 16 minutes, 14.03 seconds, breaking the course record of 16:23.88 set by Auburn, Alabama’s Howard Graves in 2007. Gatei ran 16:15.35 while Graham finished in 16:18.59.

Cali, meanwhile, ran away from the Invitational Girls’ field, beating Collins Hill’s Nicky Akande and Mobile’s McGill-Toolen Catholic’s Carmen Carlos en route to a time of 17:48.26, breaking the course record of 17:52 set by Emily Reese of Chamblee, Ga. in 2006.

Akande finished second in 18:01.58 and Carlos was third in 18:27.12.

“Despite the rain, we had some hard fought races,” said meet director Steve Schoenewald. “I was pretty satisfied with the turnout, and we had some great competition. If not for the rain, some of the winners could have run 5-10 seconds faster.  We’re happy with the course records, because having the competition we had set it up.”

Collins Hill routed Spanish Fort, 26-70, to win the Invitational Boys’ team title, with Brother Martin of New Orleans third with 93. Collins Hill was just as dominating on the Invitational Girls’ side, defeating Mobile’s UMS-Wright 42-71, with Mobile’s St. Paul’s Episcopal third with 84.

In the Open Divisions, St. Patrick’s of Biloxi dominated the girls’ race, defeating Mobile’s Cottage Hill Christian, 20-51, while McGill-Toolen was third with 61 points. Individually, St. Patrick’s Katie Bodin took top honors with a time of 20:42.71.

The boys’ Open Division was a different story, as Mobile area teams swept the top three places. Spanish Fort won with 73 points, with McGill-Toolen second with 97 and Cottage Hill Christian third with 107. Individually, Bayside Academy’s Stewart Shoemaker took top honors, winning in 17:06.84

Here’s a recap of the Invitational Division races.

GIRLS: From the start, everybody knew it was going to be a pretty fast race.

Cali took the lead from the opening gun, and by 800 meters, had a five-meter lead on Akande. By the mile mark, the lead stretched to 10 meters, and by 1 1/2 miles, the lead was 20 meters.

Cali was so strong, not only did she break the course record, but beat Akande by 13 seconds and Carlos by 39. Both Akande and Carlos ran times fast enough to win, but Cali was simply too dominant.

“Malia looked strong throughout the race,” said Walter Pinion, a photographer for Dyestat. “She finished as strongly as she started.”

BOYS: The Invitational Boys’ race was slightly different. Like the girls’ race, the pace started off strong, with Spanish Fort’s Brett Hanke taking the early lead and leading for three-fourths of a mile. But Graham took over soon after, with Galindo lurking in third.

“Galindo took over with a mile to go, and Gatei moved into second,” said Pinion.  “At that point, he had a 20-meter lead, but near the finish, Gatei closed the gap.”

From that point, it was a fight to the finish for Galindo and Gatei, while Graham tried to close the gap. In the end, it was Galindo getting the win, with Gatei getting second and Graham getting third. Hanke was fourth in 16:26.47.

Preview: Lack of hurricane threats improves COC fields


This year’s Mobile Challenge of Champions Meet should be an interesting one indeed—simply because there is no threat of a hurricane.

Last year, the threat of bad weather limited the number of schools and athletes participating in the meet.  No such worry exists this year, which pleases meet director Steve Schoenewald.

“We’re back to the numbers we had in the past, before we had problems with the threat of hurricanes,” he said.  “We have 27 schools represented in the open boys and girls’ races, along with 16 teams in the invitational girls division and 14 in the invitational girls.

That computes to 650 plus athletes—which should make for a very impressive meet.

The ‘B’ team of Collins Hill (Suwanee, Ga.) is the favorite in the open boys’ division.  Other out of state teams that have a chance include St. Patrick’s of Biloxi, Miss., and St. Thomas More of Lafayette, La.

Local teams to look out for include Bayside Academy of Daphne, led by Stewart Shoemaker.  Shoemaker, in fact, could very well win the individual race.

As for the open division girls, St. Patrick’s could very well be the favorite to take team honors.

The Invitational Girls division could be a competitive one indeed.  Collins Hill, led by Nicky Akande (who won the Challenge of Champions mile race last year), is the top-rated team in Georgia and has a good shot of winning the team title.

Challenging Collins Hill could be Mt. Carmel of New Orleans and Mobile’s McGill-Toolen Catholic.

Individually, Akande could face a battle from McGill-Toolen’s Carmen Carlos, St. Paul’s Episcopal’s Margaret Harkness, Megan Wetterall of Atlanta’s Lakeside, and Malia Cali of Hammond, La’s. St. Thomas Aquinas – who was runner-up in the 2008 Challenge of Champions 2M on the track.

On the Invitational Boys’ side, Collins Hill, Brother Martin of New Orleans, and Spanish Fort are the favorites for the team title.  Two local athletes to watch in the Invitational Boys’ division are Spanish Fort’s Brett Hanke and St. Paul’s Stuart Graham.

Friday- September 11  
Freshman/Middle School Girls      4:00 pm- 2 miles
Freshman/Middle School Boys     4:30 pm- 2 miles
Awards                                               5:00 pm

Saturday-September 12
Open Girls                8:00 am- 5k-Unlimited Entries
Open Boys               8:40 am- 5k- Unlimited Entries
Invitational Girls     9:15 am- 5k- 7 Entries by Invitation Only
Invitational Boys    10:00 am- 5k - 7 Entries by Invitation Only
Awards                    10:30am

Southeast Region