Eagles, Lee win county boys championship

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

ALABASTER – Brandon DeMarcus Lee has established himself as one of the state’s best runners over the last couple of years, and as just a junior this season, he has already cemented his name as the best in Shelby County for the 2017 season after winning the boys’ race at the 2017 Shelby County XC Championships at Veterans Park in Alabaster on Monday, Sept. 25.

Lee, who came into the event with finishes of seventh and third to start the season, won the meet with a time of 16:37.37, which was 24 seconds ahead of teammate Jace Jones, who finished with a time of 17:03.94.

The win gave the Warriors a clean sweep in both the boys and girls race as McKenzie Hogue brought home the individual title for the Thompson girls.

While Lee and Jones had strong showings for the Warriors, the overall team title went to the Oak Mountain Eagles.

Oak Mountain finished the event with 37 total points which was five points ahead of Thompson’s 42.

A large part of that success was due to five runners finishing in the top 10. Jonah Barrett, Eric Marin and Hansen McCown finished consecutively in fifth, sixth and seventh.

Barrett was the highest of the finishers with a time of 17:17.66, while Marin ran the 5K in 17:28.70 and McCown in 17:34.33.

Bryce Keefover and Walker Cole rounded out the top-10 finishers for the Eagles. Keefover finished in ninth with a time of 18:06.61, while Cole finished in 10th with a time of 18:11.68.

The next two highest individual finishers were Blake Vaughn (third) of Helena and Zack Howard (fourth) of Briarwood. Oddly enough, that’s where both teams finished in the overall standings as well.

Vaughn finished the meet in 17:07.84, just four seconds behind Jones in second. It marked Vaughn’s best finish and fastest time of the 2017 season through three events.

Howard, similar to Lee at Thompson, has been one of the best runners in the state recently and finished this race in 17:13.93. Howard finished in third in his first event of the year and followed that up with a first-place finish in his most recent event, meaning that he hasn’t finished lower than fourth this year.

The time not only marked the fastest this year for Howard, a recent commit to the University of Alabama-Huntsville, but the fastest of his career.

The other top 10 finisher was Thompson’s Jacob Wyatt, who finished in eighth with a time of 17:47.87.

Chelsea, Shelby County and Calera also competed in the event and finished fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.

The Hornets were led by three top-30 finishers in T.J. Gennari, Kyle Franopoolis and Cade Neuberger.

Calera also had a top-30 finisher in Owen Marquardt, who finished in 26th with a time of 19:34.19.

Shelby County was led by none other than Jesse Jones with a time of 20:06.46, which was good enough for 33rd.

More photos at Shelbycountyphotos.com