By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Tuesday’s Cullman County Cross Country Championship was all about Cold Springs.
Cassi Still was absolutely dominant on her way to first in the girls race, and Kramer Crider safely secured his crown on the boys side, leading the Eagles to an easy sweep of the team titles at Fairview Town Park.
Still had the county record in mind from the get-go — and she got it, distancing herself from the pack in a hurry and ultimately crossing the finish line in 19:30, nearly a full minute ahead of teammate Emily Campbell (20:26) in second.
The previous meet mark of 20:03 was held by Cold Springs graduate and current University of Alabama runner Palee Myrex.
“I’m pretty excited because it’s my senior year,” Still said. “But I know that I couldn’t do it without God. He’s my main priority. On the starting line, I was just like, ‘God, if it’s your willing, then let me do whatever you want me to do.’”
Coach Clay Campbell couldn’t have been more proud to see Still capture the individual title in record-setting fashion.
“She’s worked hard. She put miles in this summer,” he said. “And she’s not just a good runner. She’s a fine young lady and a good person.”
With a knee injury keeping usual No. 3 Katie Huffstutler off the course, the Eagles turned to a trio of seventh-graders to get the job done. And the young’uns definitely didn’t disappoint, as Ashleigh White cruised to third, Abi Burrow (21:34), fifth, and Camryn Crider (21:48), sixth, to help the small-school powerhouse reel in its eighth consecutive girls county championship.
White’s time of 21:01 was the best ever by a Cold Springs seventh-grader.
“I’m very proud of all my girls,” Still said. “We’ve been working really hard.”
Kramer Crider was all business in the boys race. The sophomore didn’t wait long to take a lead and was never threatened in his bid for back-to-back titles by finishing in 16:14, almost 20 seconds ahead of teammate and runner-up Morgan Smith (16:33).
“I’m definitely happy with today. It feels good, but I can’t get overconfident with that,” Crider said. “I’ve got to stay humble because anyone can get beat at the end of the day.”
The Eagles wound up claiming the top-four spots — Jared Stanley (17:07) and C.J. Lang (17:12) were third and fourth, respectively — as well as ninth (Adam Carney, 18:00) — to wrap up their 10th boys county title in a row.
“That actually feels even better,” Crider said of the team accomplishment. “We’re closer to winning state this year than we’ve been in the past five or six years. That just gives us all the confidence that we have just as good of a chance as any of the others in 1A/2A.”
It’s that kind of unselfish attitude that Campbell has come to expect out of both Crider and Still.
“They’re not those demanding leaders,” he said. “They lead by example and say, ‘Come on.’”
Holly Pond speedster Nikki Christie (21:14) spoiled the Cold Springs girls attempt at a perfect score with a fourth-place finish. Joining the Eagles’ top five and Christie as All-County runners were Fairview’s Kennedy Chambers (22:08), Tiffany Lodge (22:29) and Maddie McNutt (23:10), seventh, eighth and 10th, respectively, as well as West Point’s Abby Wilson (23:03), ninth.
Behind the aforementioned trio, Alexus Lindsey (23:51), 11th, and August Stancil (24:17), 15th, the host Aggies took second as a team. Good Hope was third and Hanceville was fourth.
The Raiders’ top five were Heather Middleton (25:11), 17th; Mikayla Adams (26:32), 20th; Savannah Sprayberry (29:59), 27th; Estefani Cienfuegos (34:14), 30th; and Karissa Moody (39:50), 33rd.
The Bulldogs’ top five were Lupe Daniel (28:15), 25th; Katie Owens (31:39), 28th; Bailey Thomas (33:53), 29th; Brittany Mooney (35:10), 31st; and Alex Hudson (39:50), 32nd.
Though they didn’t field a full team, the Broncos’ top runners were Christie; Elizabeth Thompson (24:54), 17th; Chayce Shelton (26:32), 21st; and Starsha Trimble (26:51), 22nd.
Cold Springs’ top-five boys were accompanied as All-County runners by Vinemont’s Hunter Green (17:28) and Nathan Handley (17:35), fifth and sixth, respectively, as well as Fairview’s Reece Walker (17:55), seventh; West Point’s Joey Riggs (17:56), eighth; and Good Hope’s Wyatt Petrimoulx (18:08), 10th.
The Aggie boys edged the Warriors for second place as a team by just three points. Holly Pond, Hanceville and Good Hope were fourth, fifth and sixth.
Fairview’s top five were Walker; Jerrami Browder (18:17), 11th; Logan Murphree (18:30), 17th; Kurtis Miller (18:52), 22nd; and Jacob Guthrie (19:48), 31st.
West Point’s top five were Riggs; Nick Parrott (18:24), 15th; Jesse Farrell (18:44), 19th; Luke Tucker (18:55), 23rd; and Jake Wilson (19:02), 25th.
The Broncos’ top five were Parker Smith (18:19), 12th; Payden Smith (18:21), 14th; Colton Teeling (18:48), 21st; Austin Hammonds (19:12), 27th; and Clint O’Brien (22:08), 50th.
The Bulldogs’ top five were Casey Guthery (18:20), 13th; Ethan Yarbrough (18:43), 18th; Isaac Weissend (19:28), 29th; Matt Burns (19:29), 30th; and Alex Stephens (20:10), 32nd.
The Raiders’ top five were Petrimoulx; Peyton Sanders (18:46), 20th; Zack Isbell (20:11), 33rd; Jimmy Petrimoulx (21:28), 46th; and Gage Henke (22:49), 52nd.
Vinemont’s Stevie Yeager (21:05) was 42nd.
West Point’s Nick Johnson and Holly Pond’s Haley Higginbotham set county records while sprinting to titles in the junior varsity boys and girls races. Johnson’s 2-mile time of 10:33 bested teammate Riggs’ mark of 12:22 he posted in 2012, while Higginbotham’s time of 13:33 topped fellow Bronco Christie’s previous record of 14:44, also set last year.
The Warriors beat Hanceville 37-43 for the JV boys county title and 36-41 for the JV girls county title.
All-County JV boys runners were, in order, Johnson; Evan McMilan, Hanceville; Dawson Foust, Holly Pond; Isaiah Osborne, West Point; Reid Hollis, Holly Pond; Cody Fallin, Hanceville; Zachery Peterson, Vinemont; Hunter Campbell, West point; Romey Suryono, Holly Pond; and Todd Schwab, Holly Pond.
All-County JV girls runners were, in order, Higginbotham; Maddie Whitesell, West Point; Savanah Reid, Holly Pond; Maleah Howell, Hanceville; Leigh Ann Smithson, Vinemont; Kirsten Campbell, Holly Pond; Logan Chambers, Holly Pond; McKenna Chambers, Fairview; Caty Hoffpauir, West Point; Jade Hollingsworth, Hanceville.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.