Region 7 AAA Cross Country Meet Review
As I exited the highway on my way to the park in Atoka to watch the Region 7 cross country championships, I started driving over several footprints painted on the road. Driving further, I passed Bolton high school and realized the community in that area really gets into their high school. Maybe I’m exaggerating, because I didn’t track it, but it had to be almost a mile of footprints on that road, they were all over the place! And then, later on as I was watching the finish of the girls Region 7 AAA meet, there they were again…. Tons of footprints coming across the finish line. I’m speaking about the Bolton girls who came in 3rd place, 4th place, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th place – that’s quite a grouping! Unjala Lester was Bolton’s first finisher with a time of 21:13 and anchoring that group was Ellen Sutton at 22:11. That’s less than 1 minute apart for all seven of those girls and that effort earned them 20 points! Afterwards, I overheard Coach Jones telling the girls to take that day and enjoy it because they all deserved it. No need to bring out the calculator to figure out the Bolton girls won the team title. That’s teamwork at it’s best! The remaining team members included Carline Daniels (21:41), Kasia Mitchell (21:43), Halley Brown (22:03), Haley Word (22:06), and Hailey Guzzo (22:07). Yes, I know, Halley/Haley/Hailey…. Like I said, Teamwork at its best!
Finishing ahead of the Bolton contingent was probably a favorite in any race she runs, Chelsea Ladd of Dyer Co. Most of her competitors probably are tired of seeing that flowing mane of hair just taunting them to try and pass her as she gains steam every step of the race. Chelsea was short of her season best (19:07) but finished well ahead of the field in 19:25. It seemed every loop she made on the course, she would stretch her lead out longer and longer. Considering she’s run her best times late in the season (last year mid-October she ran an 18:45), she could really shine and break into the top 10 at the State meet on the 3rd. For sure the match between her and Collierville’s Danielle Myers looks to be a great battle for the title of the fastest Division 1 girl from this side of the State!
Making a strong statement at second place was Abigail Topham. Her 20:05 time was not her best ever, but it was very respectable, but even more inspiring is how she is slowly returning to form after recovering from some long running problems with injuries. Her form was rock solid, her pace fairly steady, and if she stays the course with her recovery, will no doubt be stronger than ever very soon. Abigail’s effort help lead Cordova team into a runner up finish at the meet and with a majority of the girls returning next year, this team is setting themselves up to be one of the top teams to watch again!
On the boys side, a little bit of a twist on the finish for the Arlington boys. Nick Pinarski running about 25 seconds slower than his PR at the Frank Horton, was able to negotiate the tight turns on the course and finished with his usual powerful upright form and capture the Region 7 individual title. Teammate Noah Freeman, who I heard was giving some respect to some leg problems, came in third at 17:52 and just ahead of their other teammate, Brian Gentry (17:52 also). Bolton’s Aaron Hall captured the runner up title with a 17:47 time. Aaron’s finish helped lead the way for Bolton’s team to gain the runner up title for the team by just 3 points over Cordova boys. Guess the Bolton boys’ team will have to step it up at State so they can get bragging rights on the Bolton girls… should be interesting!!
Arlington Freshman Chandler Jenkins (18:02) and Junior Jordan Hinders coming in 8th and 12th respectively, brought the Arlington team into a strong team finish to take the Region 7 team title. Another impressive note, three of the top four finishers came from Arlington. Brian Gentry, the sunglass fashioned team captain, is the only Senior in the group, and Sophomore Josh Soto and Freshman Daniel Rudolph finishing in the 6th and 7th spots for the team. So expect Arlington to come out strong next year and probably a few more years following that.
Rounding out the Bolton’s runner team was Robert Winans (18:10), Ryan Essary (19:06), Logan Garner (19:14) and Blaine Harrison (19:53). By the way, Logan and Blaine are only freshman, so that bodes well for that teams’ future.
Munford high school did a very nice job hosting the meet this year and made sure everyone felt welcome! A big hooray for them! And not sure how Munford folks did it, but a big hooray for the weather, low 80’s to high 70’s for a meet in the month of October, wow!