William Calvert knows a thing or two about cross country.
Now that Captain Obvious has seen fit to write the lead, it should also be stated that water is wet, the sky is blue and the Earth is in fact round.
But let’s go back to Calvert.
The longtime St. Bernard cross country coach — and fine former runner in his own right — has watched thousands of runners and hundreds of races during his wildly successful tenure with the program, giving him a tried and true idea of just what attributes make up a great athlete.
Tenacity, mental acuity, consistency, speed, endurance and toughness. All qualities Calvert looks for when deciding which runners have it and which runners don’t.
And for Calvert, Ivy Edge not only has it, she might be “it.”
The cross country phenom won five races for the Saints on the season — not to mention a junior varsity title — including victories over solid competition at the sectional and state meets. She turned in a 19:27 time in the latter to lead St. Bernard to its first state cross country championship in school history.
Oh, yeah. She’s only an eighth-grader.
“She could be one of the best we’ve ever seen around here,” Calvert said of the youthful but gifted Edge, The Times’ 2014 Prep Girls Runner of the Year. “She’s got that unique talent of such a seasoned runner for somebody her age. She really has nowhere to go but up. The sky’s the limit.”
Edge was part of a five-girl group — including Leahrose Mami, Jaden Edge, Ayleana Mami and Katelyn Cowie — that simply torched opposing schools all season long.
The Saints won all 11 events this year, seven of those by 19 points or more. They finished a cumulative 80-0 against the respective teams in each meet, including three razor-close victories over their biggest rival, Westminster.
Ivy Edge was a model of consistency throughout St. Bernard’s race to greatness, finishing inside the top four in nine of the team’s 11 runs. Any wacky ideas of her hitting empty in the gas tank were quickly put to rest following four triumphs for her squad in its final five meets.
Think Calvert is a wee bit giddy about having her around for the next four years?
“Absolutely I am,” he said with a laugh. “We are elated with the success she’s had and are anticipating more of it to come. We could see her do some really special things that not many, if any, have ever done in the sport around here.”
Despite the senior-like accolades, Edge remains your typical 13-year-old. She’s not big on talking — those who know her are well aware of this trait — and she’s got many of the teenage superstitions that come with competitive running.
Her shoes must be laced up just right and her bow must be tied just so before the starting gun goes off. If not, well that would simply be pandemonium.
For Calvert, he doesn’t care what Edge does before running, so long as she continues to improve year after year, day after day and race after race.
And with what he’s seen so far, the affable coach has not a single reason to believe she won’t do just that.
“It’s very special,” he said. “Her racing mentality is an asset. She always feels like she’s in the race. Some die or give up on the race if they aren’t in the lead. Not her.
“Most have the ability, but not everyone has the consistency. We see young runners finish high all the time, then follow it up a 50th in the next one. That mental toughness she has is what sets her apart from the rest. I’m looking forward to seeing her develop over the next four years.”
Ivy’s sister, Jaden, and the Mami siblings made a limited list of honorable mentions that also included Cullman’s Marisa Franklin and Cold Springs’ Sadie Terry and Ashleigh White.