Several perform well at Spain Park XC Classic, including host team

Published 4:48 pm Tuesday, September 18, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor 

HOOVER – The host Spain Park Jaguars had a strong showing at the 2018 Spain Park Cross Country Classic, as the annual event was held on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Veterans Park just next to the high school.

While several local teams and runners competed, Spain Park had the highest local finisher in both the boys and girls 5,000-meter races.

Starting in the boys’ race, senior Jacob Warner was able to close out a win on his home course with a time of 16:57.85, which beat Wetumpka’s Cory Anthony by 20 seconds.

He was one of two county finishers inside the top 5 as Helena’s Brady Barton, a sophomore, also had a strong showing finishing with a time of 17:34.05 which was good enough for fourth place.

Barton was one of many storylines for the Huskies, who had the best team finish of any county team, taking third place overall behind Hoover and Catholic-Montgomery.

Junior Talon Pritchard was the next highest finisher for Helena and in the county with an 11th place finish thanks to his time of 18:12.35.

Two spots lower, Chelsea freshman runner Miles Brush emerged onto the scene with his finish of 13th. Brush finished the race with a time of 18:20.21 to show he can compete with some of the best runners in the area.

His teammate, senior Cade Neuberger, also had a strong showing finishing in 15th with a time of 18:22.37, which has come to be expected from the experienced runner.

Blake Childers, a senior at Helena, was the Huskies’ final finisher inside the top 30 with his finish of 23rd thanks to a time of 18:44.18.

One position behind him was Oak Mountain junior Josh Scherer in 24th with a time of 18:49.32.

While Spain Park had just the one top-30 finisher, the Jags did have three more finish inside the top 50 between Josh Nonnengard, Max Smith and Bradley Hughes, which made them the next highest team finisher from the county in fifth place.

The Hornets finished just behind in sixth place, while Oak Mountain grabbed eighth and Westminster at Oak Mountain finished 16th.

In the girls’ race, several names we have become accustomed to seeing inside the top 10 lived up to their hype, but it started with Spain Park’s Mackenzie Culpepper.

Culpepper, a freshman, finished in third with a time of 20:53.42, and while it was more than two minutes off the winning pace set by one of the state’s top 3 runners in Amaris Tyynismaa, it continued to show she has what it takes to compete with the best as just a freshman.

Not far behind Culpepper was another familiar name in Westminster at Oak Mountain’s Hallie Porterfield. The sophomore runner finished the race in sixth with a time of 21:37.69.

Chelsea’s Teanna Cason also had a strong performance, and yet another top-10 finish, after claiming the eighth spot with a time of 21:53.69.

Spain Park had five more runners finish inside the top 32 of the standings as a part of a team effort that led to an overall finish of third in the team standings.

Holland Lidikay finished in 13th, Mary Virginia McKinley finished in 21st, Lyric Bryant finished in 23rd, Paige Walls finished in 31st and Leanna Todd finished in 32nd. None of those runners for the Jaguars are older than juniors.

Helena’s Ana Waters and Westminster at Oak Mountain’s Arden McCullough also finished inside that range with Waters taking 20th place and McCullough finishing in 29th.

Just behind Spain Park in the team standings were the Chelsea Hornets in fourth thanks to top-50 finishes from Nakia Coleman, Esther Rabenau and Avery Thompson.

Two spots lower were the Westminster Knights in sixth place, while Helena finished in eighth and Oak Mountain in 12th.