By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Saturday’s state meet at Oakville Indian Hills offered a tremendous opportunity for St. Bernard's and Cold Springs' cross country teams.
Fresh off a pair of sectional wins, the Saint girls and the Eagle boys were in a prime position to collect their schools’ first-ever state cross country titles.
Unfortunately for both, they came up just a bit short, as each squad captured runners-up finishes in the Class 1A/2A division to end its respective campaigns on respectable notes.
“We had a great season,” St. Bernard coach William Calvert said. “We’ve got a young team. I’m absolutely ecstatic about our program and the progress we’ve made. This is evidence of it. Sure, we’d have liked to have gotten the blue trophy, but there will be other years. We’ll have our chances.”
Added Cold Springs’ coach Clay Campbell: “It was a good year for us. I’m proud of the guys. They gave it their all today.”
Logan Ayers concluded her illustrious prep career at St. Bernard with a third-place showing (19:35). Alyeana Mami (fifth, 19:42), Ivy Edge (18th, 20:33), Jaden Edge (20th, 20:54) and Leahrose Mami (23rd, 21:06) all contributed to the Saints’ second-place finish with 54 team points.
“I’m really proud of how we did,” said Ayers, who’s finished fourth, sixth and third in her three state appearances. “It’s just been a great season us. I’m happy with what we’ve done.”
Ayers was nothing short of spectacular for the Saints on the season, accumulating first-place finishes in her five races prior to Saturday’s run.
“Logan had an unbelievable career here,” Calvert said. “She had many wins and accolades. We'll miss her, but we will have to go on without her because they do graduate.”
Mami joined Ayers on the All-State Team, her fifth time to make the honorary squad in as many years.
Montgomery Academy (2A, 44) claimed another state title, while Westminster (55) rounded out the top three. Cold Springs placed fourth with 153 points.
Cassi Still led the Eagles with a 14th-place finish and an All-State honor. Emily Campbell (22nd), Ashleigh White (34th), Abi Burrow (46th) and Katie Huffstutler (54th) rounded out Cold Springs' top five.
While they didn’t quite meet their goal of a state title, the Eagles' boys were pretty stoked to come away with a runner-up finish — also to Montgomery Academy.
Cold Springs (79) was 20 points behind the winners but 30 ahead of third-place Holy Spirit Catholic in the team rankings.
Sophomore Kramer Crider, as he’s done so often this year, paced the Eagles with a sixth-place finish and time of 17:11.
Morgan Smith (seventh, 17:15), Jared Stanley (eighth, 17:16), C.J. Lang (17th, 17:50) and Austin Burwell (53rd, 19:03) were the top contributors for Campbell’s squad.
“We all would have liked to place first, but sometimes things don't go as planned,” Crider said. “But if we can't be first, I'll take second. We got a trophy and got a few in the top 15. I’m looking forward to next year.”
With all but two runners returning, Crider said he thinks next season’s squad has all the ability to push for state again in 2014.
“I think we’ve got a lot of potential,” he said. “We’re planning to have a good summer and coming back strong next season.”
Crider, Smith and Stanley each made the All-State team.
St. Bernard placed sixth overall with a team score of 146. Oscar Perez (16th, 17:49), Steven Mami (26th, 18:13), Nate Giffin (45th, 18:46), Will Sciaroni (46th, 18:50) and Isaias Robles (66th, 19:20) were the Saints’ top runners.
In the 5A division, Cullman’s boys placed eighth overall out of 15 teams. Kyle Norris (12th, 16:50 and an All-State berth) and Sam Murphree (22nd, 17:13) headed up the Bearcat attack. Walker Caretti (57th, 18:00), J.D. Warner (72nd, 18:19) and Joey Franklin (86th, 18:42) also contributed for Trent Dean’s running squad.
For the Black and Gold girls, Anna Bailey placed 32nd with a time of 21:04. Marisa Franklin (52nd, 21:48) and Hillary Crider (65th, 22:24) also finished strong as individuals.
Although no other county schools qualified for the event, there were still a handful of runners who made it in to the field based on their individual results at last week’s sectional meets.
Those individuals included Holly Pond’s Nikki Christie (41st, 22:19), Savanah Reid (58th, 23:01), Haley Higginbotham (111th, 26:19), Elizabeth Thompson (124th, 29:59) and Hanceville’s Jade Hollingsworth (96th, 25:07).
On the boys’ side, Vinemont’s Nathan Handley (27th, 17:59) and Hunter Green (35th, 18:19) placed for the Eagles in the 3A event, while Hanceville’s Evan McMilan came in with a time of 19:01 — good for a 68th-place finish.
In 4A, Fairview’s Logan Muphree placed 36th (18:25).
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.