Three boys’ teams finish in top 10 at SP XC event

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

HOOVER – The cross country season is now in full swing after several of the county’s best teams made their way to the Spain Park Cross Country event at Veterans Park on Saturday, Sept. 16.

For some it marked the first event of the season, while others had at least one warmup event heading into it, but whether it was a team’s first event or not didn’t seem to matter as several of the 15 teams at the competition had strong showings in either the boys or girls race, or both.

The highest individual finishers from the county at the event came in the boys’ race, and more specifically from Spain Park and Westminster.

Spain Park Junior Jacob Warner and sophomore Charlie Trower finished fifth and sixth, respectively, out of 297 varsity runners. Warner finished the 5,000-meter race in 17:09.89, while Trower was just behind with a time of 17:12.31.

Those two, along with senior Cole Dillard, all had top 20 finishes. Dillard took 20th on the nose with a time of 17:45.28. The Jags also had three more finishers in the top 50 behind strong performances from Morgan Becker, Elijah McKinley and Isaac Shore.

The Jaguars’ impressive individual performances also led to a strong showing in the team standings of the event where they took home second with 96 points. It was the strongest team showing by any of the 15 teams competing in the boys or girls race as they finished just 30 points outside of first place.

Outside of Warner and Trower, the next two highest finishers were Nate Collins and Hunter Wright, both from Westminster School at Oak Mountain.

Warner, a senior, finished in ninth with a time of 17:25, while Wright, a freshman, finished just behind in 10th with a time of 17:26.92. The Knights’ next highest finisher was senior Pierce Moffett in 69th.

The drop off led to a team finish of 11th, which was impressive amongst some of the best teams from around the southeast.

Just behind Spain Park, however, were the Oak Mountain Eagles, who took home a third place finish thanks to several strong individual performances.

The highest of the Eagle finishers was junior Jonah Barrett, who just missed out on a top 10 finish as he took 11th with a time of 17:29.04. Consistency behind Barrett was what led to such a strong finish as Walker Cole, Bryce Keefover and Eric Marin all finished within four spots of each other in the top 21.

Cole, a freshman, finished in 18th with a time of 17:42.78, while Keefover, a junior, was narrowly behind in 19th with a time of 17:42.84. Marin, the older of the three as a senior, finished in 21st with a time of 17:48.74.

Helena also had a strong showing in its first event of the 2017 season by finishing in eighth in the overall team standings.

The Huskies were led by senior Blake Vaughn, who finished in 22nd with a time of 17:52.08. Freshman Brady Barton also had a strong showing, finishing in 32nd with a time of 18:13.11.

Helena had one other top 50 finisher in Spencer Hodges, who finished the race in 18:34.64, which was good enough for 46th.

Chelsea’s highest finisher was junior Cade Neuberger in 68th with a time of 19:04.81. The Hornets had six other runners finish in the top 200 out of 297 runners, which led to a team finish of 17th.

Pelham’s Adam Keller was the Panthers’ bright star as the junior finished in 13th with a time of 17:31.96. As a team, Pelham finished in 17th thanks to Keller being their only top 100 finisher.

Calera and Shelby County both had runners competing as well and finished 27th and 29th, respectively, in the team standings.

The Eagles were led by Owen Marquardt, a freshman, who finished in 83rd with a time of 19:26.07. Just behind Marquardt was Shelby County’s highest finisher in Jesse Jones, who took 100th with a time of 19:49.36.

Photos from the event available at www.shelbycountyphotos.com