Local teams fare well at DEW it on the Trails XC race

Published 5:27 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2018

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

DECATUR – With just a couple of weeks before section championships arrive, local cross country teams are trying to make sure they are running their best times of the season, while also staying healthy and energized, knowing you have to be in top shape with your season on the line.

We got a look at some of the teams that will be vying for spots in the state meet on Saturday, Oct. 13, when many cross country teams from Shelby County competed in DEW it on the Trails meet at Point Mallard in Decatur.

In the event, Shelby County had seven top-10 finishers, four top-five finishers, two top-two finishers and one champion to close out a strong showing from local runners.

As usual, McKenzie Hogue was the county’s best finisher, taking home the girls’ 5,000-meter championship by 45 seconds over second place. It’s just another accolade for the senior, who has become one of the best runners in the state and will be looking for a state championship in a few weeks.

That runner she finished ahead of by 45 seconds was none other than Spain Park freshman Mackenzie Culpepper, who is a rising phenom in the state. She finished the race with a time of 19:19.50 to grab the second spot on the podium.

There were also two other finishers inside the top 10 of the girls’ race thanks to Pelham’s Katie Strozier and Oak Mountain’s Evie Bell.

Strozier, a senior for the Panthers, finished the race in 19:43.80, while Bell, a junior for the Eagles, finished the race in 19:44.60.

Those two schools were also responsible for two more top-20 finishers, as Pelham’s Alex Wilkins and Oak Mountain’s Emma Grace Phillips finished in 18th and 20th, respectively.

Thompson’s Emily Allen and Spain Park’s Holland Lidikay were the only other two county finishers in the top 30. Allen took home 22nd, while Lidikay finished in 26th.

While there were no top-two finishers in the boys’ race, it didn’t mean there weren’t some impressive highlights starting with Spain Park’s Jacob Warner and Thompson’s Jace Jones and Brandon DeMarcus Lee.

Warner, a senior, led the pack with his finish of fourth place with a time of 16:03.50, while Jones, a junior, finished in fifth with a time of 16:05.10 and Lee, a senior, finished in eighth with a time of 16:18.50.

Oak Mountain had the next cluster of strong finishes, and while the Eagles didn’t have an top-10 finishers, they did have three senior runners finish inside the top 16 in consecutive order.

Bryce Keefover kicked it off with his finish of 14th with a time of 16:42.30. Behind that was Hansen McCown in 15th with a time of 16:43.10 and Jonah Barrett in 16th with a time of 16:43.40.

The Eagles had one more runner inside the top 20 thanks to sophomore Walker Cole’s finish of 19th with a time of 16:45.40.

Just ahead of that was Pelham’s Adam Keller, who finished in 18th with a time of 16:44.20.

Those were also the last two runners in the top 30, but it was an impressive performance from several of the county’s best in a race that featured close to 400 athletes.