Calera, Helena kick off XC season with confidence

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

TUSCALOOSA – The Calera Eagles and Helena Huskies both kicked off the 2020 cross country season on Thursday, Aug. 20, after a summer of unknown and the two had ideal starts to the new year.

After not knowing whether or not there would be a fall sports season, both teams got to compete on the opening day of the season and made it count. The Helena boys started the season with a win at the CTC Dual/Tri/Quad Meet, while the Calera boys finished second at the Wildcat Twilight Invite.

Both schools also saw their girls compete with Helena finishing third out of three teams and Calera finishing fifth out of six teams.

Helena’s win, however, was the highlight and Brady Barton played a key role in helping the Huskies start on a strong note.

The senior finished the 5,000-meter race in 16:08.81 to take the top spot and finish close to 50 seconds ahead of second place.

Barton was one of four Helena runners to finish inside the top 10. Aspen Warren, a freshman, added a top-five finish thanks to a time of 17:48.57, which was good enough for fifth, while Jacob Stephens, another freshman finished one spot lower in sixth with a time of 17:57.50.

Not too far behind those two was junior Gage Pritchard, who finished the race in eighth with a time of 18:06.19.

In addition to those top 10 finishers, the Huskies also had four others in the top 15 and one additional finisher in the top 20.

Zack Malec, Barrett Draiss and Braden Burch finished consecutively from 11th-13th. Malec finished with a time of 18:57.39, Draiss with a time of 19:13.86 and Burch with a time of 19:17.07.

Behind that, Matt Boatman finished 15th with a time of 19:23.66, while Drew Cook finished 18th with a time of 19:43.49. Edan Jamieson closed out the results for Helena with a time of 20:10.94.

For Calera’s boys in their meet, they claimed second with 74 points, which was nine behind winner Southside-Gadsden and two points ahead of third-place Oxford.

The Eagles were led by two finishers in the top 10 with senior Riley Gay finishing sixth and junior Cade Galloway finishing ninth. Gay finished with a time of 19:12.19, while Galloway finished with a time of 19:16.82.

Landon Earl and Lane Busby also had impressive performances finishing 16th and 17th, respectively. Earl finished with a time of 19:59.53, while Busby finished with a time of 20:14.21.

For the girls, Calera was led by Laryssa Molina-Becerra with an 11th-place finish behind a time of 25:23.94, while Helena was led by ninth-place finish from Mallory Barton thanks to a time of 22:29.75.