The Cullman Times
It doesn’t get any bigger than the Jesse Owens Classic.
And really, it can’t as far as Alabama’s prep cross country scene is concerned, considering more than 5,000 runners and nearly 200 middle school and varsity boys and girls teams from around the region descended upon the Oakville Indian Mounds for the 15th annual event.
While rain and muddy conditions ruled the race in 2012, this year’s participants enjoyed a sun-soaked meet. The light shined especially bright on St. Bernard and Cold Springs, which both escaped the eventual site of the state meet with top-four team results in every race they entered.
The Saints’ girls were victorious in the green division (Class 1A/2A), while the Eagles roped in runner-up honors on the boys’ side. Cold Springs’ girls were third, and St. Bernard’s boys were fourth.
Logan Ayers (20:33) and Ayleana Mami (20:35) grabbed sixth and seventh, respectively, to lead the Saints to the title. They finished just two points ahead of Montgomery Academy, which won the boys’ competition.
St. Bernard’s other contributors were Ivy Edge, 11th (21:18); Leahrose Mami, 12th (21:21) and Jaden Edge, 23rd (22:04).
“They really concentrated on the team score instead of the individual accomplishments today,” Saint coach William Calvert said. “No one had an outstanding race time-wise, but everyone did what they needed to do. When you can beat the defending champions on the state course, we’re happy with the results. We just hope we can duplicate them on Nov. 9.”
Cassi Still continued a successful senior campaign with a top-10 finish for the Eagles’ girls. Still was ninth (20:48); Emily Campbell, 24th (22:08); Camryn Crider, 33rd (22:51); Abi Burrow, 36th (23:22); and Ashleigh White, 47th (24:37).
Kramer Crider was out in front of a trio of Cold Springs’ boys who propelled the team to second place overall. Crider was the individual runner-up with a time of 17:32, while Morgan Smith was fifth (17:44) and Jared Stanley, ninth (18:09). C.J. Lang (19:30) and Adam Carney (19:43) weren’t far behind in 31st and 36th.
Steven Mami was the top Saint boy in eighth (17:59), closely followed by Oscar Perez in 11th (18:20). Other St. Bernard contributors were Nate Giffin, 33rd (19:36); Isaias Robles, 35th (19:39) and Thomas Russell, 37th (19:43).
The Saints also won the girls’ small-school junior high race behind performances by Eva Barck (third), Cailin O’Donnell (fourth), Andie Zatarain (seventh), Anna Faulk (10th) and Katelyn Cowie (17th). Their boys, powered by Paul Shartung (third) and Jalen Lee (13th), were second at the same level.
As happy as he was with all the hardware his squads pulled in Saturday, Calvert was also pleased with the weather considering the adverse conditions in 2012.
“It was humid, but we’ll take 80 degrees versus the torrential storms and lightning that caused a delay last year. And the mud bath we had to endure,” he said. “It was much nicer today.”
Cullman’s boys and girls took on the gold elite division, which was open to all teams and one step above the silver group (strictly 5A/6A).
Samuel Murphree was best for the Bearcat boys in 92nd (17:42), followed by Kyle Norris, 137th (18:12); J.D. Warner, 154th (18:21); Walker Caretti, 224th (19:25); and Tucker Adkison, 235th (19:33).
The boys’ gold elite trophy was named in honor of Cullman High's Nicholas Fillinger, who unexpectedly died on Sept. 26, and awarded to first-place Auburn by his father, Dr. Eric Fillinger.
The Black and Gold girls were represented by Marisa Franklin, 101st (21:51); Hillary Crider, 119th (22:13); Anna Bailey, 156th (22:51); Megan Pendley, 176th (24:30) and Jade Bailey, 223rd (24:30).
West Point’s boys fielded a full team in the boys’ silver division — Nick Johnson, 138th (19:18); Jake Wilson, 189th (19:57); Nick Parrott, 208th (20:16); Jesse Farrell, 238th (21:03); and Nick Roman, 244th (21:15).
The Warriors’ Abby Wilson (26:40) and Maddie Whitesell (26:42) were 193rd and 194th, respectively, on the girls’ side.
Vinemont’s Nathan Handley (18:59.18) and Hunter Green (18:59.26) were hot on each other’s heels for 67th and 68th in the boy’s bronze race (3A/4A).
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.