Briarwood performs strong in XC opener

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

GADSDEN – Hype surrounded the Briarwood boys’ and girls’ cross country teams coming into the 2017 season, and they proved it was worthy in their first event of the season finishing second and third, respectively, at the Etowah County Trail Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 9.

Both teams were led by two top 10 finishers and one top 3 finisher during the event.

Zach Howard of the boys team didn’t just start the season strong, but picked up a championship in his first event of the year. Howard, a senior, finished in first with a time of 17:37.98, almost 30 seconds faster than the second-place time of 18:02.87.

With three races finished in less than 17:00 last year, it wasn’t Howard’s best 5K time by any means, but still dominated the rest of the field to give him his second championship since last season started and sixth top 5 finish.

Freshman Trent Malloy also had a strong showing finishing 10th to give the Lions’ boys team two top 10 finishers in the race. Malloy ran the race in 19:05.39 finishing a little under two minutes behind his teammate in his first event with the varsity squad.

The girls were also led by a freshman in Adrienne Goolsby, who had her highest finish in four XC events with the Lions by taking home third. She finished the race with a time of 22:32.52, which was just less than a minute behind the winning time of 21:34.63 set by Trinity Roberts of Pleasant Valley High School.

Last season, Goolsby had a fifth-place finish in the Class 5A, Section 2 race, despite her fastest time of 21:55.09 still being in the state championship where she finished in 45th.

Senior Anna Beth Hild ran the 5K in 23:53.53 to finish in 10th and give the girls, just like the boys, two top 10 finishers in the race. Morgan Harris wasn’t too far down the list as the sophomore took 16th with a time of 24:44.44.

Mehan Talley (28th) and Chloe Lovvorn (34th) also had strong finishes with times of 25:44.25 and 26:29.58, respectively. The Lady Lions’ total score was 69, which was just 30 points behind Pleasant Valley’s winning score of 39.

After Howard and Malloy, Briarwood’s boys also had other strong performances starting with senior leaders Wade Herren and Bryant Wood.

Herren, 26th, and Wood, 32nd, finished with times of 20:29.34 and 20:47.66, respectively, to start the season. Sam Candler finished with a time of 21:18.43 to give the Lions five top 50 finishers in the race.

Briarwood finished second in the overall team standings of the boys’ race with a total of 112 points, which was 55 points behind Pleasant Valley’s 57 as they swept both divisions.