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Vestavia Hills, Homewood runners snap AHSAA state cross country records

AHSAA Cross Country Week 5 Spotlight

Strand, Hope Both Eclipse AHSAA State Cross Country All-Time Record set in 2001

Montgomery, AL  – Seniors Ethan Strand of Vestavia Hills and Crawford Hope of Homewood are running in the same circles these days. And they are apparently doing it better than anyone in AHSAA history.

The two cross country sensations turned in the nation’s second and third best times of the season last week at the Southern Showcase Invitational Cross Country Championships in Huntsville.  The duo finished 1-2 in state record time in the 5,000-meter boys’ large-school competition.

Both catapulted into week five’s AHSAA High School Cross Country Spotlight with their incredible battle to the finish – that resulted in both runners clocking their personal best times while eclipsing the best high school time in AHSAA history.

Strand, who won the AHSAA Class 7A state cross country title in 2019 and 2018, clocked 14:36.88 to nip Hope, who crossed the finish line five seconds behind at 14:41.63. Hope edged Strand at the Chickasaw Trails competition at Oakville Indian Mounds State Park the previous week to claim the AHSAA Spotlight for Week 4. In that race, Hope clocked 15:20.75 and Strand, 15:29.82.

The fastest time in AHSAA history (14:55.55), according to MileSplit, was run by Tyler Stanfield of Homewood in 2001. Strand’s previous personal best was 15:03.13 run on the same course last year. To put the time in perspective, he averaged just over 4:32 a mile in the 3.1-mile distance. Hope, who will be competing in Class 6A at the AHSAA State Championships in November, averaged just over 4:33 per mile. Both runners plan to attend the University of North Carolina next year.

Brentwood (TN) High School senior Kevin Vanderkolk finished third at the Southern Showcase with a 15:06.04 time. Huntsville senior Jackson Danner was fourth at 15:12.36 and Chelsea junior Miles Brush finished fourth at 15:17.91 in the field of 162 participants.

Huntsville won the team championship with 40 points. Scottsboro was second with 100, followed by Franklin (TN) at 104 and Vestavia Hills at 149.

Junior Crawford West of Vestavia Hills claimed the Southern Challenge girls’ large-school championship with a winning time of 17:44.05. Brentwood (TN) senior Kaitlyn Vanderkolk was second with a 17:55.35 time. A total of 135 runners competed in the field with Brentwood taking the team championship with 42 points. Vestavia Hills was second with 123.

Other top performances reported by Alabama Runners from last week’s competition included:

GIRLS

PRESLEY MILES, SAINT JAMES: The senior who committed to Duke University earlier this week won the girls’ small-school division competition at the Southern Challenge with a time of 18:56.66. Freshman Reagan Parris of Cold Springs was second with a 20:56.19 time to lead her team to the championship. Cold Springs had 24 points and White Plains had 38.

KARIS LELLEY, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Led the Lady Patriots to the team championship at the TCBY Invitational Cross Country Championships at Tuscaloosa’s Munny Sokol Park with a winning time of 18:49.26 over the 5,000-meter course. The freshman was followed by teammates Lucy Guthrie and Dani Blakley, who crossed second and third at 19:26.76 and 19:53.89, respectively. Guthrie is an eighth grader and Blakley, a freshman. American Christian won the team title with 21 points and Northridge was second with 40 in the race that featured eight full teams and included 72 runners.

ELIZABETH ROBERTSON, MOUNTAIN BROOKThe senior won the Oak Mountain High School invitational meet with a winning time of 19:09.44. Hoover senior Lauren Wallace was second at 19:43.62 in the field of 120 runners. The Spartans won the team title with 42 points, followed by Auburn (48) and Hoover (79).

LEAH TAYLOR, GENEVA: The Panthers’ senior won the Trinity Trailblazer meet held at Gateway Park in Montgomery with a time of 19:13.87. Faith Academy freshman Emily Shumock was second at 19:32.55 in the field of 55 participants. Providence Christian edged Houston Academy 43-51 to win the team championship.

BETH ANN TUCKER, SPRINGVILLE: Took first place at the Fairview Invitational large-school race with a winning time of 19:06.88. Katie Mae Coan of Lawrence County was second at 19:08.27, and Springville’s Gracie Mathers was third at 19:50.02. Lawrence County’s Red Devils were the team champs with 24 points, followed by Springville with 63 and Arab with 117.
MAKINLEY TRAYLOR, IDER: Won the Fairview Invitational small-school race with a winning time of 19:54.18. The seventh grader beat runner-up Taylor Knight of Ashville, who clocked 20:02.95.  Ashville was the team champion with 37 points. Pleasant Valley (58) and Hatton (62) finished second and third, respectively.

BARIT SNEAD, SARDIS: The freshman won the Volunteer Spirit Classic cross country meet at Central of Clay County High School clocking 22:20.20 to beat a field of 76 runners. Alexandria sophomore Michaela Moore was second at 22:33.92 to help the Valley Cubs 0take first place in the team competition with 26 points. Lincoln was second with 83.

BOYS

WALKER COLE, OAK MOUNTAINTurned in a 15:51.88 time at the Oak Mountain High School Invitational to take first place over runner-up Stewart Brown of Auburn (16:28.96). Both runners are seniors. The boys’ race had 162 participants.  Auburn won the team competition with 25 points. Hoover was second with 55 and Oak Mountain was third with 102.

STEELE JOINER, LAWRENCE COUNTY: The junior ran the Fairview Invitational course in 16:05.08 to take first place in the field of 128 competitors. James Garrison of Bob Jones, also a junior, was second with a 16:21.29 time, to spark the Patriots to the team crown. Bob Jones totaled 34 points, Springville was second with 76 and Oxford third with 77.

HOLLIS JOHNSON, MONTGOMERY CATHOLIC: The Knights’ senior beat a field of 95 runners at the TCBY Invitational at Tuscaloosa’s Munny Sokol Park with a time of 16:11.57. Finishing second was senior Trent Malloy of Briarwood Christian (16:34.75) and third was eighth grader Cole Byers of American Christian (16:35.40). Briarwood won the team championship with 40 points, and American Christian was second with 59. Catholic took third place with 94 points.

WYATT KNIGHT, ASHVILLE: Won the 1A-4A boys’ division race of 141 runners at the Fairview Invitational clocking 16:26.33 to beat Pleasant Valley sophomore Cayden Nelson, who crossed the finish line at 16:34.07.  The Raiders won the team title with 75 points to edge St. Bernard, who was second with 76.

ETHAN EDGEWORTH, COLD SPRINGS: Won the Southern Showcase Small School feature race at Huntsville with a time of 16:36.30. The freshman finished just a step ahead of White Plains senior Jake Moore, who was clocked at 16:39.83. Seth Peebles of Westminster Christian also came in under 17 minutes with a 16:58.60 time to take third place. White Plains won the team title with 61 points, and Westminster was one point back at 62.

CONNER PATTERSON, PROVIDENCE CHRISTIAN: The junior runner crossed the finish line at 16:41.40, just four seconds ahead of runner-up Chas Brewer of Opelika (16:45.17), to win the boys’ race at the Trinity Trailblazer meet held at Gateway Park in Montgomery. Eighty runners competed in the meet won by Providence Christian. The Eagles had 52 points to edge runner-up Faith Academy (58).