By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
With rain, thunder and lightning taking its toll on the Oakville Indian Mounds course that will serve as the site for the state meet in early November, the St. Bernard cross country team was content with staying dry on the bus as long as possible.
After Saturday’s 14th annual Jesse Owens Invitational, the Saints’ competition wishes they would’ve just stayed there.
Coach William Calvert’s boys and girls finally braved the weather with only 15 minutes to warm up, which didn’t keep them from winning the girls green division (Class 1A-2A) and finishing second in the boys green division.
Nearly 5,500 prep runners from all over the Southeast were represented in the 14 different divisions of various skill levels and school sizes.
St. Bernard’s Logan Ayers (20:07) and Ayleana Mami (20:39) finished 1-2 in the girls race on a course that Calvert simply described simply as “wet,” “muddy” and a “sloppy mess.” Jaden Edge continued to improve with a sixth-place finish (21:50), as did Morgan Matz, who shaved 35 seconds off her previous best time to take 24th (23:00). Caitlin Varquez snagged 31st to round out the Saints’ top five.
“Three out of the top six puts you in really good shape,” Calvert said. “They ran fantastic from start to finish. They took command early and stayed there.”
St. Bernard’s score of 54 was only 22 points better than second-place Cold Springs, which had all five runners land in the top 30.
Emily Campbell (22:18) and Cassie Still (22:24) were 10th and 11th, respectively, while Kaleigh Merring was 15th (22:37). Haven Watson sprinted to 25th (23:02), and Katie Huffstutler placed 30th (23:29).
Addison’s top result in the girls race was Crystal Vandiver in 58th (25:33).
The Saints’ boys edged out Hatton by one point at last week’s Kudzu Hills Invitational at Cold Springs but were walloped by the Hornets 110-53 in the latest matchup.
“I guess we made them mad,” Calvert said with a chuckle. “We learned from that and won’t concede to them yet.”
Will Faulk was consistent as ever in third (18:07), while Seamus Russell continued his hot streak with sixth (18:28). St. Bernard’s other contributors were Oscar Perez, 17th (19:01); Steven Mami, 43rd (20:09); and Isaias Robles, 54th (20:30).
The Eagles struggled to 13th as a team in the boys race without Kramer Crider, who won the junior high small-school 2-mile race with a time of 11:50.
Cold Springs’ boys contributors were Morgan Smith, 13th (18:55); Alec Dodge, 79th (21:21); Adam Carney, 88th (21:38); Josh Coleman, 106th (22:29); and Heath Hollis, 109th (22:38).
Addison’s best boys runner was Jake Bryson in 159th (24:13).
Cullman’s boys wound up 37th out of 44 teams in the gold elite division, which featured 399 runners.
The Bearcats’ contributors were John Weeks, 161st (18:20), Matt Huddleston, 167th (18:23); Devan Hall, 260th (19:15); Nicholas Fillinger, 265th (19:18); and Nick Harbin, 282nd (19:33).
The Black and Gold’s girls grabbed 31st out of 35 teams, with Marisa Franklin leading the way in 142nd (21:57). The team’s other four runners were Hillary Crider, 167th (22:23); Megan Pendley, 195th (23:04); Savannah Smith, 207th (23:19); and Carlie White, 268th (25:30).
Cullman’s boys also fielded a team in the silver division (5A-6A), finishing 44th out of 52 squads. Contributors were Peyton Little, 242nd (20:38); Ben Ratliff, 246th (20:41); Jake Smith, 254th (20:53); Stephen Adair, 318th (22:49); and Michael Bentley, 319th (22:52).
West Point’s Nick Parrott finished in 272nd (21:23) in the boys race, while Juliane Parrott took 237th (25:12) in the girls race.
Vinemont’s Nathan Handley was 59th (18:50) in the boys bronze division (1A-4A) race, and his teammate Char Stevens finished in 100th (19:48).
Fairview finished 25th out of 39 teams in that same race. The Aggies’ contributors were Reece Walker, 75th (19:18); Jerrami Browder, 104th (19:51); Kurtis Miller, 132nd (20:16); Colby Chapman, 137th (20:20); and Hunter Mckelvy, 367th (26:41).
Fairview’s Porcha Hunter and Maddie McNutt finished 68th (23:45) and 170th (26:46) in the girls bronze race, while Vinemont’s Sydney Dodson and Abby Preiss were 184th (27:34) and 225th (29:49), respectively.
‰ The Times’ sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.