MONTGOMERY – Vestavia Hills senior cross country runner James Sweeney ran the AHSAA’s fastest 5,000-meter time of the season to win the individual boys’ title at the Twilight Panther Prowl cross country meet hosted by Huntsville High School at John Hunt Park last Saturday.
Sweeney won the meet with a time of 15:32.26, almost 17 seconds ahead of runner-up Cameron Cox of Huntsville, also a senior, and beating a field of 116 participants. Sweeney’s time was faster than last year’s Class 7A state championship winning time (15:39.70) clocked by Hoover’s Tommy McDonough and 42 seconds faster than his own 19th-place finish time of 16:22.38).
Cox, who finished 29th in last year’s state meet at Oakville, improved his 2016 time by 32 seconds to help Huntsville win the team title in the Twilight Panther Prowl. The Panthers placed four runners in the top 11 finishers and posted 42 points to take the championship. Vestavia Hills was tied for second with 97 points and Scottsboro finished fourth with 135.
The fastest AHSAA state-meet winning time in history came in 1996 when LeFlore’s Cordell Seals won the 5,000-meter race in 15:18.70. Seals went on to run cross country at LSU in the late 1990s.
Junior Kagen Sutton of Hatton, who was fifth in last year’s Class 1A/2A state meet, beat his 2016 time by two seconds to win the 1A/4A boys’ race at John Hunt Park with a 16:56.11 time. The Hornets won the team title as well with 71 points, three better than runner-up DAR. James Cain of Priceville was second (17:03.07) in the 104-runner field.
In the girls’ competition at the Panther Prowl meet, Auburn won the team title in the big-school division with 21 points. Sophomores Samantha Rogers and Harper McGowan finished 1-2 for the Coach Naomi Bergh’s Tigers with times of 18:25.46 and 18:43.72, respectively. The pair finished in the top five of the Class 7A state meet last year with McGowan crossing the finish line fourth and Rogers fifth. Huntsville was second with 41 points.
Junior Julianne Hill of Madison Academy won the 1A/4A division in 21:07.72. Hatton won the team competition with 45 points.
In other cross country highlights reported:
TANNER KING, NORTHSIDE: Crossed the finish line with a winning time of 16:13.64 to win the TCBY Invitational’s Class 4A/7A division at Sokol Park in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Hunter Harwell led Mountain Brook to the team title with a second-place finish and a time of 16:28.92 in the field of 103 runners. The Spartans totaled 26 points and Lawrence County was runner-up with 83.
TAYLOR RAY, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Led the Patriots to the 1A/3A division championship of the TCBY Invitational at Tuscaloosa’s Sokol Park with a winning time of 16:43.18 Altamont’s Asher Desai was second (17:16.49). American Christian had 34 points and Altamont had 47 to finish second.
BRANDON DEMARCUS LEE, THOMPSON: Won the Shelby County Cross Country Championship race with a solid time of 16:39.22 over the 5,000-meter Veterans Park Course at Alabaster on Monday. Teammate Jace Jones was second at 17:03.94. Oak Mountain won the boys’ title with 37 points, and the Warriors were second 42. The Eagles placed five runners in the top 10 with Jonah Barrett crossing fifth with a time of 17:17.66.
CHARLIE LOTT, TRINITY PRESBYTERIAN: Won the Central Alabama Cross Country Invitational at Montgomery’s Gateway Park with a winning time of 16:42.0. The junior won the 111-runner competition finishing 16 seconds ahead of runner-up Matthew Estopinal of Randolph by almost 16 seconds. Auburn won the team title with 43 points. Trinity was second with 60.
JAKE MOORE, WHITE PLAINS: Won the Volunteer Spirit Classic hosted by Central-Clay County with a winning time of 18:40.90. Jaylon Hudson of Lincoln was second (18:58.60). The race had 103 runners. Pleasant Valley won the team competition with 35 points, and White Plains was second with 56.
JONATHAN BERTUCCI, ST. PAUL’S EPISCOPAL: Turned in a solid time of 16:37.70 to finished third in 313-runner field at Gulf Coast Cross Country Stampede invitational at Pensacola, FL. Teammate Evan Hendry was fourth at 16:44.30. The Saints tied Niceville, FL with 98 points in the team competition but finished second in the tie-breaker.
ANDREW SWEENEY, ST. BERNARD: The Saints senior and 2016 Class 1A/2A state meet runner-up won the 1A/4A division of the Fairview Invitational meet in Cullman County with a winning time of 16:39.93 in the field of 101 runners. He bettered his time in last season’s AHSAA Class 1A/2A state meet by eight seconds. Brindlee Mountain’s Brandon Mendez was second at 18:18.42. J.B. Pennington won the team competition with 49 points, and St. Bernard was second with 74.
ELI WILHITE, CULLMAN: Led a strong contingent of Bearcats runners with a winning time of 16:31.55 to finish first in the Class 5A/7A field of 89 participants at the Fairview Invitational meet last Saturday. Cullman totaled 20 points to finish first over runner-up Hartselle, which had 58 points. The senior finished 10th in the Class 6A state championships at Oakville last season. Jackson Tucker, Tucker Adkison, Edgar Medina and Will Thompson also finished among the top eight runners. Tucker was second at 17:03.98, and Adkison was third at 17:10.31.
PRESLEY MILES, SAINT JAMES: The freshman clocked 19:02.38 over the 5,000-meter course at Tuscaloosa’s Sokol Park to win the individual title in the Class 4A/7A division of the TCBY Invitational meet Saturday. Miles, who was state runner-up in the 4A meet last season, was just 14 seconds off her 2016 time, to beat the 88-runner field. Mountain Brook won the team title with 23 points. Anna Balzli led six Spartans in the top 10 with a second-place time of 19:13.54. Lawrence County was second with 50 points.
BECCA BILLMAN, AMERICAN CHRISTIAN: Clocked 19:53.00 to win the individual competition at TCBY Invitational’s 1A/3A division. Isabella Rowland led Montgomery Academy to the team championship by finishing second with a time of 20:41.68. The Eagles had 43 points and Altamont was second with 46.
McKENZIE HOUGE, THOMPSON: Won the Shelby County Cross Country girls’ individual title Monday with a winning time of 20:17.52 in the 96-runner field at Veterans Park. Oak Mountain won the team title with 23 points and Briarwood was second with 70. Leading the Eagles was Evie Bell, who finished third with a 20:56.36 time. Nicole Payne, Kate Van Beek, Emma Grace Phillips and Anna McGowan also finished in the top 10 for Oak Mountain.
AMARIS TYYNISMAA, MONTGOMERY-CATHOLIC: The junior beat the 74-runner field by 90 seconds as the Lady Knights won the team championship of the Central Alabama Cross Country Invitational at Montgomery’s Gateway Park. She finished with a time of 19:26.70 over the 5,000-meter distance. Fairhope seniors Lexie Williams and Audrey Clark finished 2-3 with times of 20:56.12 and 21:12.13. Randolph was second with 51 points and Fairhope was third with 73.
ABBY NUNNELLY, ALEXANDRIA: The junior, who finished fifth the Class 5A state championships last season, clocked 21:12.30 to win the Volunteer Spirit Classic meet at Central-Clay County on Saturday. Rachel Faucett and Trinity Roberts finished 2-3 to lead Pleasant Valley to the team title of the 66-runner field.
GRACE JENSEN, McGILL-TOOLEN CATHOLIC: The runner-up and top returning finisher from the 2016 Class 7A state championships ran strong at the Gulf Coast Cross Country Stampede race at Pensacola with a time of 18:42.70 to finish second. John Carroll Catholic senior Lindsey Granier and T.R. Miller freshman Olivia Blackmon also finished in the Top 10 at fourth and sixth, respectively. McGill-Toolen was sixth overall, best of any AHSAA school. Niceville won the title.
LEAHROSE MAMI, ST. BERNARD: Last season’s AHSAA Class 1A/2A state meet runner-up won the Class 1A/4A race at Fairview Invitational on Saturday with a time of 21:15.47 to lead the Saints to the team championship. St. Bernard scored 49 points and Sardis was second with 66. Brea Bryan of Falkville was second clocking 22:43.09. A total of 81 runners competed.
MEGAN SCHWARZE, ARAB: Captured the individual title of the Fairview Invitational’s Class 5A/7A competition clocking 20:25.35 to beat the field of 49 runners. Teammate Emma Stewart was second (21:05.94). Cullman won the team title with 29 points with Della Kelly finishing fifth.