By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Coach William Calvert has been pleased with the way St. Bernard's boys’ and girls’ teams have ran so far this season.
A win in either division at the state cross country meet in Moulton on Saturday would just be icing on the cake.
“We’ve have a very successful year,” Calvert said. “Everybody on the team has improved considerably, and I think that’s a combination of hard training and the athletes’ dedication to getting better throughout the season.”
Despite the Saints' success over the past few months, Calvert knows the state meet means more to his speedy squad than any regular season competition ever could.
“I think right now, everyone is running with confidence,” the coach said. “We’re all expecting to do big things at state, and we can’t wait to get out there.”
St. Bernard's top-runner Logan Ayers leads her squad into
Saturday’s meet with a state-best time of 19:16:51 in the Class 1A/2A division.
The junior, who has won seven races this season, said her times have been a product of training early in the year.
“I’ve been working hard since the beginning of the summer,” she said. “I’ve been to a couple of running camps that have really helped me in a lot of areas this season.”
Ayers, along with teammates Ayleana Mami and Jaden Edge, are hoping to help the Saints give perennial power Montgomery Academy a run for its money this weekend.
“I think the most important thing we can do is go into Saturday with a positive attitude,” Ayers said. “Some of these girls have been intimidated and stressed by state, but the coaches and I have preached staying calm.”
Calvert said a great deal of the girls' impressive season can be attributed to the exceptional leadership of Ayers and Mami.
“They’ve been really good with the younger girls,” he said.
Will Faulk and Seamus Russell take charge on the boys’ side, riding their momentum from top-three finishes at last week’s sectional meet.
Russell defeated Faulk for the first time last weekend with a personal-best time of 16:42.42.
“It gives me a lot of confidence going into Saturday knowing that I can run the way I did at sectionals,” Russell said. “Will has been great all year, so it was nice to get by him there at the end.”
Like the team's girls, Russell has also been pleased with how the season has progressed.
“It’s been great,” he said. “We’ve set a lot of personal records along the way. We just have to hope that good things happen on Saturday.”
Calvert said runners like Russell and Edge, both of whom have pushed the top runners, make everyone raise his or her game.
“It’s a friendly competition between these kids,” he said. “They’ve striven for it, and it’s raised the bar for all of the younger guys and girls coming up.”
For either of the teams to hoist a first-place trophy on Saturday, they must first defeat some teams that have given them trouble over the course of the season.
The boys are just 1-4 against a Hatton team that is likely to be in the top-three when all is said and done.
Likewise, the girls are 0-1 against favorite Montgomery Academy, getting handled very early in the season.
Despite those numbers, Calvert remains optimistic.
“We’ve improved so much from the start of the season,” he said. “Especially our three through six runners. Just to be mentioned with great teams like Hatton and Montgomery Academy is a credit to our program and how far these kids have come.”
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.