Cullman’s Nicholas Fillinger was a single spot away from winning his second race in three weeks, and St. Bernard’s girls were just one point short of claiming a team title, highlighting the local cross country results at the Scottsboro Invitational on Saturday.
It’s still early in the season, but Fillinger’s junior campaign is already shaping up to be something special. He was victorious at the Pepsi XC Challenge, turned in a personal-best time at the Chickasaw Trails Invitational a week ago and then shaved another 16 seconds off that mark in Saturday’s runner-up result.
Fillinger’s 16:20 5K was only bested by Randolph’s Eshan King’s 16:11, leading the Bearcat boys to fifth overall in the large-school division (Class 5A-6A) and second in 5A.
The Black and Gold’s other counting runners were Kyle Norris (17:18), 21st; Samuel Murphree (17:47), 44th; J.D. Warner (18:05), 57th; and Walker Caretti (19:10), 103rd.
Cullman’s girls landed in 10th as a team behind respective performances by Marisa Franklin (21:10), 28th; Megan Pendley (22:00), 58th; Anna Bailey (22:00), 59th; Savannah B. Smith (22:03), 62nd; and Hillary Crider (22:57), 84th.
St. Bernard had its first four girls finish between third and 14th, while its fifth, Ivy Edge, a seventh-grader running in her first 5K in high school competition, broke 23 minutes to give the Saints a 64-point total, just one shy of 4A Pope John Paul II Catholic for the small-school (1A-4A) team championship.
Logan Ayers (20:23) and Ayleana Mami (20:29) led the way in third and fourth, respectively, while Jaden Edge (21:16) was 12th and Leahrose Mami (21:32) 14th. Ivy Edge completed her debut in 22:55, much to the delight of coach William Calvert.
“We were very pleased with her performance to say the least,” he said.
Steven Mami snagged a top-10 individual finish to propel St. Bernard’s boys to sixth out of 19 1A-4A schools and second in 1A-2A.
Mami wrapped up the three-mile trek in ninth (18:00), with teammates Oscar Perez taking 21st (18:40) and Nate Giffin 55th (19:51). Rounding out the Saints’ counting scores were Thomas Russell (19:54), 59th, and freshman Jalen Lee (22:00), 118th.
The average time for St. Bernard’s top-five girls dropped 40 seconds from last week’s meet, while the Saints’ boys saw an improvement of a full minute.
“That’s what you want to see this time of year,” Calvert said. “We want to improve each week, and that’s what we did.”
Cullman and St. Bernard will finally be able to compete a bit closer to home when they take on the Fairview Invitational next Saturday. According to AlabamaRunners.com, Cold Springs, Good Hope and Vinemont are other local teams registered for the Aggies’ annual event.
Cold Springs will host the ninth annual Kudzu Hills Invitational, a massive meet, in two weeks on Sept. 28.
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.