As the cool air of November hits, so, too, does the race to the state championships for cross country teams.
That’s because after countless miles of running since late August the postseason has arrived.
For Wiregrass teams it starts Friday when AHSAA section meets are run at various locations. All the meets were originally scheduled for Thursday, but projected heavy rains forced the races to Friday.
The section meets involving Wiregrass teams are in Auburn, Montgomery, Loxley and Mobile.
Enterprise runs in the Class 7A, Section 2 meet at Auburn’s Kiesel Park and Dothan is at the same venue for Class 6A, Section 2. The Class 6A and 7A girls run together at 10 a.m. and the 6A and 7A boys run at 11:20 a.m.
Charles Henderson is in the Class 5A, Section 1 meet at Mobile’s Langan Park. The girls race is at 11:30 a.m. and boys at 12:15 p.m.
The Class 4A, Section 1 meet and Class 1A/2A, Section 1 run in Montgomery on the AUM campus. Headland is part of the 4A, 1 meet, while Wiregrass teams Goshen, New Brockton, Zion Chapel and Kinston are part of the 1A/2A, Section 1 race. Girls teams run at 10:15 a.m. and the boys at 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, Wiregrass teams Houston Academy, Opp, Providence Christian and Wicksburg compete in the Class 3A, Section 1 meet at Loxley Municipal Park in Daphne. The girls race is at 11 a.m. and boys at 11:40 a.m.
At each section, the top four teams in both genders qualify for the state meet on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park in Moulton. In addition, the top six individuals not on the section rosters of the four qualifying teams also advance to state.
HA’s Smith, Hart set school records: Houston Academy’s Gunnar Smith and Holley Hart set school career records for best times in winning races at last Thursday’s Coach Carroll Wiregrass Championships at Eastgate Park.
Smith, a junior, finished the boys 5K (5,000-meters, 3.1 miles) in 16 minutes and 28.66 seconds, besting his previous school record of 17:10.17 from last year’s Opp Bobcat Invitational.
Hart, an eighth-grader, smashed the HA’s girls record with a 20:31.30 time at the Wiregrass Championships. That broke the previous school mark of 21:07.08 she set on Oct. 5 at the Jesse Owens Classic.
Smith’s performance paced the Houston Academy boys, who took the team title. The Raiders had four of the top five finishers in the 66-runner field in winning.
The HA boys also had all 11 runners established a career best time. In addition to Smith, Alex Converse (17:11.80), JC Peacock (17:20.57), Logan Bolton (17:57.07), Sam Middleton (18:25.51), Alex Nolin (18:30.49), Zeid Yunis (18:51.62), Paul Converse (19:03.24), Alex Middleton (19:17.44), Wills McRae (19:31.73) and Nate Selig (20:05.95) had PRs.
The HA girls had only four runners compete, which was not enough for team scoring. The other runners were Lillie Pruitt (24:31.04), Lilly Jenne (26:33.17) and Emma Morales (28:36.45). Pruitt and Jenne had career bests.
School records: Overall six school records were broken during the Wiregrass Championships, including the two Houston Academy marks.
Others setting school records were Headland’s Will Scott, Dothan’s Trevor Shaw and Wicksburg’s Hagen Seymour in boys and Wicksburg’s Kelsey Ellenburg in girls.
Headland’s Scott, who finished as the race runner-up, earned a 17:11.77 time, knocking down the previous best which he set at the 2017 state meet (18:53.44). Ram teammate John McKee (18:38.39) also smashed the previous mark.
Dothan’s Shaw, a sixth-place finisher at the meet, had an 18:03.18 time, setting a new mark for the first-year Wolves team, which had nine runners PR at the meet.
Wicksburg’s Seymour, a seventh-place finisher, ran an 18:12.87 time, breaking Kyle Arthur’s previous school best of 18:23.13 from the 2017 state meet.
Ellenburg, the girls’ third-place finisher, set the Wicksburg record with a 21:57.32 time, breaking the previous school mark (22:06.09) she established at the Bobcat Invitational on Sept. 19.
Dothan girls win: Dothan was the only school to field enough runners in the girls race, and thus took the team title. The Wolves were led by Kate Smith in fourth place (22:19.14), Jadalie Medeiros in fifth (22:24.57) and Jami Diaz in sixth (22:26.83).
Team standings: The Wiregrass Championships boys division had six scoring teams. Houston Academy won with 21 points, well ahead of runner-up Dothan (69), which edged Wicksburg (70) and Headland (75).
Providence Christian, which choose to not have a lot of its top runners compete, finished fifth with 148 points and New Brockton sixth (159 points). Florala and Charles Henderson also had runners.
Top 10: The boys top 10 runners at the Wiregrass Championships were HA’s Smith, Headland’s Scott, Houston Academy’s Alex Converse, Peacock and Bolton in the top five followed by Dothan’s Shaw, Wicksburg’s Seymour, Houston Academy’s Sam Middleton and Nolin and Dothan’s Jonathan Medeiros (18:33.00).
The girls top 10 runners were HA’s Hart, Charles Henderson’s Rayvion Williams (21:29.72), Wicksburg’s Ellenburg, Dothan’s Smith and Jadalie Medeiros in the top five. Dothan’s Diaz and Charles Henderson’s Bryaira Wallace (22:36.48) were followed by Wicksburg’s Elizabeth Bond (22:49.77) and Morgan Roden (23:14.02) in eighth and ninth. Charles Henderson’s Taliyah Bryant (23:51.58) was 10th.
Mixed 3,000 meters: The Wiregrass Championships also featured a mixed girls and boys 3,000 race that consisted of 11 runners, mostly seventh and eighth graders. Houston Academy’s Andrew Gil was the top boys finisher in 13:19.26 and Dothan’s Elizabeth Griffler was the top girls finisher in 16:39.96.
Providence runners shine: Providence Christian runners shined at the 23rd Annual Tiger Classic in Auburn on Saturday, Oct. 19 with Grace Crim winning the Class 1A-4A girls race.
Crim earned a 20:30.20 time, the fourth best time in school history. A junior, Crim now holds the top five times and eight of the top 10 at the school.
PCS teammates Elle Salter (22:38.90), Madelyn Patterson (22:45.90), Millicent Talmadge (23:37.00), and Addison Pemberton (23:40.90) finished third through sixth and Anna Catherine Farris (23:52.80) eighth.
On the boys side, Clay Suddarth finished second with a 17:49.50 time and Robert Woodall was sixth (18:40.20). Greyson Lifto (19:20.80) finished 10th, James Glass (19:58.60) 13th and Henry Paul Blaxton (19:58.60) 15th.
Other top performers: Several other Wiregrass runners had strong performances at the Tiger Classic.
Among those on the girls side were Stella Retherford (21:18.90, 15th place Class 5A-7A), Natalie Warner (21:26.90, 16th, 5A-7A), Mirna Thompson (22:57.10, 24th, 5A-7A), all of Enterprise, along with Kinston’s Claire McReynolds (24:53.60, 18th place, Class 1A-4A).
On the boys Enterprise’s Tyler Rathburn (17:39.10, 12th place, Class 5A-7A), Brett Tessay (18:19.10, 25th place, Class 5A-7A) and Henry Templin (18:37.60, 29th place, 5A-7A) along with Headland’s Will Scott (19:19.90, 9th place, 1A-4A) had strong showings.