Cullman’s Nicholas Fillinger and both Cold Springs cross country teams were big winners at the season-opening Pepsi XC Challenge on Saturday.
Fillinger’s 5K time of 17:23.91 was good for the boys large school (Class 4A-6A) individual title, while the Eagles came back to Cullman County sporting the girls and boys small school (1A-3A) championships.
Cold Springs’ girls picked up right where they left off during track season, with Cassi Still and Emily Campbell anchoring an extremely consistent showing that saw all five scoring Eagles land inside the top 14.
Still led the way in third (21:32.10), and Campbell finished ninth (23:53.35). Camryn Krider (24:28.27), Katie Huffstutler (24:32.93) and Abi Burrow (24:43.87) were 12th, 13th and 14th, respectively.
While Cold Springs’ girls cruised to a 19-point victory over Winfield, its boys wound up beating Hatton by a single point.
Kramer Crider soared the highest for the Eagles with a second-place result (18:24.50), while Morgan Smith, sixth (19:06.99), and Jared Stanley, 10th (19:56.54), also cracked the top 10. Austin Burwell was 22nd (20:52.75) and C.J. Lang 37th (21:40.12).
Vinemont was also represented in the boys small school race. Hunter Green snagged 11th (20:02.55) and Nathan Handley 24th (20:54.76).
Despite losing a massive number of seniors to graduation, Fillinger, the lone returner from Cullman’s usual scorers in 2012, made sure the Bearcats didn’t miss a beat. The junior was first to the finish line by 10 seconds, helping the Black and Gold boys secure second place as a team.
Also contributing to the runner-up result were Samuel Murphree, 15th (18:56.61); Kyle Norris, 16th (19:00.45); J.D. Warner, 18th (19:02.33); and Walker Caretti, 27th (20:16.62).
Fairview’s top-two runners in the boys large school race were Reece Walker, 32nd (20:44.07), and Jerrami Browder, 43rd (21:11.29). West Point’s were Jake Wilson, 35th (20:58.36) and Nick Parrott, 45th (21:16.94).
Cullman’s girls grabbed fourth as a team. The Bearcats had all five scoring runners finish inside the top 30, starting with Marisa Franklin in 11th (22:33.99) and Hillary Crider in 17th (23:11.78). Savannah B. Smith was 22nd (23:44.54), Megan Pendley 27th (24:23.79) and Anna Bailey 29th (24:45.99).
West Point’s top-two runners in the girls large school race were Abby Wilson, 46th (27:50.98) and Maddie Whitesell, 57th (29:22.43). Fairview’s were Maddie McNutt, 54th (28:53.83) and Alexus Lindsey, 55th (29:01.31).
The fourth annual event was held at H.A. Alexander Mini Park and co-hosted by Lawrence County and Cold Springs.
% The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.