Cassi Still, Emily Campbell and Kaleigh Merring all had top-20 finishes to lead Cold Springs’ cross country team to third place in the Class 1A-4A varsity girls division of the Pepsi XC Challenge on Saturday, highlighting a number of strong performances by local schools and runners at the season-opening event.
Still completed the 5K race in seventh (23:04.84), Campbell was 13th (23:32.64) and Merring took 16th (24:09.95). The last two times that contributed to Cold Springs' score came from Katie Huffstutler, 29th (25:27.23) and Hannah Wason, 32nd (25:37.57).
Ashley Sena, Fairview's lone participant, snagged 46th with a time of 28:45.62.
Vinemont had three girls represented — Anna Barnett, 57th (31:32.84); Ashley Chambers, 60th (31:53.18); and Abby Priess, 66th (34:04.44).
On the varsity boys side, Vinemont's Nathan Handley charged to sixth (18:58.88) to wind up with the highest local individual finish.
Kramer Krider (19:21.16) and Morgan Smith (19:27.42) were ninth and 10th, respectively, leading the way for the Cold Springs' boys fifth-place finish. The school's other three contributors were Adam Carney, 38th (22:08.82); Heath Hollis, 43rd (22:23.61); and Christian Hulsey, 57th (24:51.99).
Fairview's Colby Chapman crossed the line in 16th (19:46.49), while fellow Aggie Josh Kilgore was 39th (22:19.54).
Vinemont's Handley was joined by Char Stevens, 32nd (21:16.49), and Cody Clayton, 64th (29:58.53).
Fairview's top-five runners — Reece Walker, sixth; Jerrami Browder, 13th; Kurtis Miller, 23rd; Kaleb Jones, 53rd; and Logan Murphree, 92nd — landed in fifth in the junior varsity boys division, while Cold Springs' best handful — Jared Stanley, 15th; C.J. Long, 30th; Josh Freeman, 35th; Matthew Peed, 45th; and Chandler Deerman, 81st — were close behind in seventh.
Vinemont's Martin Greer was 124th in the JV race, which spanned 3,200 yards instead of the 5K the varsity runners endure.
Fairview also fielded a JV girls team, which finished seventh behind: August Stancil, 25th; Alex McDonald, 37th; Maddie McNutt, 42nd; Allyson Fowler, 48th; and Emilie Sena, 56th.
Cold Springs' top runner was Prisca McAnnally in 20th, while Vinemont's was Sydney Dodson in 29th.
The Class 5A Bearcats traveled to Memphis, Tenn., to open their season at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic on Saturday night. The large-scale regional event featured more than 80 schools and 1,300 runners from Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Cullman's varsity boys grabbed 16th out of 41 teams behind the following five runners: Nicholas Fillinger, 78th (18:17); Stephen McNeal, 100th (18:39); Devan Hall, 105th (18:45); Mark Gomez, 130th (19:06) and Jesse Burroughs, 134th (19:09).
The Bearcats' varsity girls were led to 26th out of 37 teams by Hillary Crider, 115th (23:02); Marisa Franklin, 158 (23:59); Megan Pendley, 163rd (24:15); Carlie White, 221st (26:21); and Bradi Ruehl, 251st (28:02).
Cullman's JV boys were 15th out of 21 squads, with top results from Jacob Smith, 86th; Peyton Little, 91st; Jackson Spradlin, 93rd; J.D. Warner, 111th; and Ben Ratliff, 112th.
Six middle school runners accompanied the Bearcats on the trip, running 2,000-meter races compared to the varsity and JV's 5K.
The four girls' results were Jillian Richard, 64th; Anna Franklin, 78th; Maddie Graves, 87th; and Gabby Orr, 88th.
The two boys' results were Tucker Adkinson, 30th, and Mitchell Collins, 81st.
Cullman's next race will be next Saturday at the Chickasaw Trails Invitational at the Oakville Indian Mounds near Moulton.
% The Times' Sports Editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.