Local runners compete in Southern Showcase

Published 3:56 pm Monday, September 20, 2021

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By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

HUNTSVILLE – Despite torrential rain across the state of Alabama on Saturday, Sept. 18, several cross country races were still able to finish, including the Southern Showcase in Huntsville.

Even with the wet course and conditions, it also didn’t slow down local athletes from putting together speedy times at events featuring some of the top runners in the state.

Between the boys and girls races, there were three total runners who finished inside the top 20, while four finished inside the top 30 and five inside the top 50.

The biggest highlights at Huntsville’s John Hunt Park included both Chelsea’s Miles Brush and Spain Park’s Keith Warner in the boys race.

Competing in his first race this season, Brush showed his senior season is going to be much like his junior season—dominant.

Last year, Brush finished inside the top 10 in eight of his nine events, finishing outside the top 10 just once when he took 20th at a national competition despite setting a personal record of 14:51.46.

Coming off a Class 6A state championship last season with four first-place finishes and seven finishes inside the top five, he finished one spot lower in this year’s Southern Showcase.

He took home sixth in the competition, but he ran the race close to seven seconds faster than a year ago, finishing with a time of 15:11.84 to kick off the season.

He was the highest finisher in the county, while Warner continued an impressive start to his season.

For the third week in a row, the junior broke his personal record despite the torrential rain.

In his first two events this season, he finished second with a time of 15:44.55 and fifth with a time of 15:34.42.

This time around, however, he beat his best time by more than 20 seconds, setting a new record of 15:13.65 to finish eighth in the event.

Those two were the only finishers inside the top 10 of either race, while Chelsea’s Cady McPhail continued a strong start with her second top-20 finish of the season.

McPhail claimed 16th with a time of 18:33.95, which beat her time of 19:24.97 in her first event of the season by more than 50 seconds. Her personal record still stands at 17:59.72 set at last year’s RunningLane National Cross Country Championships.

Spain Park senior Mackenzie Culpepper finished 10 spots behind McPhail with a time of 18:55.06 to claim 26th. That was just four seconds off her personal record set when she was an eighth grader in 2017.

The next highest finisher in either race was Jackson Hamlin, who claimed 42nd in the boys race behind a time of 15:53.88 to lead the Thompson Warriors.

It marked a new personal record for the senior, who is off to a strong start this season, also setting a personal record in the 2-mile run at 10:35.30 in the Warrior 2 Mile Invitational earlier this season.