2014 Brooks Twilight CC Meet Summary

2014 Brooks Twilight CC Meet Summary

Cross Country, weather, and mud seem to have such a delightful relationship it’s hard to ever talk of one without the others.  You look at a schedule of cross country meets and immediately are thinking about the weather that time of year.  Then when you think of the weather – and someone says rain – the mud starts to creep into the conversation.  The Mike Rose soccer complex doesn’t immediately summon the perfect cross country course.  And why would it, it’s a mass of perfectly manicured soccer fields.  But the courses don’t run on the fields themselves.  The courses weave in and out and around the soccer pitches to make up the 2K, 5K and 4-mile trails.  There’s a pretty obvious elevation difference between all the soccer fields here and going up and down that elevation isn’t all that easy.  Sure, most of the hills aren’t that long, but steep they are and some seem to be angled slopes, and then to make them even scarier, add in some sharp turns.  A few places had some ground work being done and combine that with the rain and in comes the mud and standing water (remember… it’s Cross Country). 

Leading up to this year’s Brooks Twilight, the weather and humidity seem to just stick around the 90’s.  Come race day though, the area got some much needed rain.  Well, a lot of much needed rain.  The middle school events ran mostly with a good steady rain on them but by the time the high school events started, that rain had tapered off quite a bit.  Oh, the temperature was right there around the high 70’s for the races.  So, steady but not so hard rain, cooler weather, some mud… can anybody say PERFECT cross country weather.  Yes, that’s what it was – you couldn’t have scripted the weather better for a cross country meet.  If you raced, you got wet.  If you were a spectator you got wet.  But that’s cross country, isn’t it! For those that missed this meet, well, too bad, you missed a great chance to show your stuff!  For those that made the meet, well, let’s take a closer look and see exactly how much fun and exciting this evening of racing really was….

Starting off the meet in almost the same fashion as last year, the middle school girl’s event had a Houston athlete breaking the course record again.  This year, the record dropped from 7:04 to a very fast 6:55.42 and is now held by Felicity Bost of Houston Middle.  Two years in a row the Houston middle athletes have taken this course record and broke it handily.  In the runner up spot was E.T. Booth middle school runner Sydney Runyan, with a time that also broke the record and was only 0.33 seconds behind Felicity.  A very tight race for sure.  The boys side, although not a course record this year, was taken by Lucas Tilleros of Augustine School in Jackson TN.  Lucas was able to break away about mid-way through the race and beat out Tupelo’s Sam Sliman by just over ten seconds. 

And if you’re not sure of some of these school names, that’s because a lot of them are not from the immediate Memphis area.  Pretty much a signature part of this event, athletes and schools come a long way to compete here – it is unquestionably the best – and largest – CC event in the Memphis area.    

Last year, the top 3 girls were sub-19, this year top 5 broke that mark.  The winning time was a few seconds slower than last year, but the quality of the field was very much beefed up compared to the 2013 contest.  Last year there were 3 girls breaking the sub-19 mark, this year five were able to make that mark.  Another impressive stat is that last year 13 girls were under the 20 minute time compared to a much deeper 19 Saturday evening! 

The winner last night for the HS Varsity girls was Kate Mattox of Starkville, MS in a time of 18:37.64.  Right behind her was Chelsea Drum (Jackson MO) in 18:42.67, third was Kayla Funkenbusch of Rock Bridge in 18:44.84, fourth was Lauralys Shallow (St. Agnes) in 18:53.73 and completing the top five was Briarcrest Junior Ruth Wiggins in 18:54.30.  The top ten girls in this division stayed fairly close together for most of the race and only near the last mile or so did the top start to spread out a bit.  And then coming into the stadium, Kate took charge and finished very strong kick that at times seemed like it may have started too early, but still good enough to win the title.  Finishing out of the top five, but just barely with the 6th place finish, was last year’s runner up and TN state champion Bailee Dean.  She ran a bit slower this year but I would still count her as the top candidate to lead the way in November at Percy Warner Park. 

With her third place finish, Kayla led off the Rock Bridge group to the team title just ahead of Huntsville AL.  Rock Bridge won by a close ten points and actually, the top three teams were only 15 points apart making the team title a very close race at that.  The best local team was perennial contenders Houston high school lead by senior Emma Reed, who I would consider has the best running form in the area.  Right behind Houston was Collierville with Sammy Brainard finish in their top spot with 19:53.56.  Sammy picks up right where her sister (Alexa) left, at the top of this talented team.  It will be interesting to see how fast Sammy gets without her sister to chase down.  My guess, very fast! 

The third place team was St. Agnes Academy.  Coach Mathis and his girls continue to stay near the top of the area teams but I would imagine are wanting to improve on being the third best in the local area.  It’s almost a given you’ll see Houston, Collierville and St. Agnes vying for the top title of the area.  However, St. Benedict is just a step or two behind and looking to change that soon as new head coach Kaitlyn Stoddard puts her mark on her group of equally talented athletes. 

The local girl’s finishers is looking to be set-up for a very strong rivalry between the D1 and D2 divisions.  Overall 4th and 5th place finishers were St. Agnes’s Shallow and Briarcrest’s Wiggins going neck and neck (can you say half a second!).  Both look to be top finishers in the D2 class come November.  The next two local finishers were D1 athletes Emma Reed (Houston, 3rd local) and Sammy Brainard (Collierville, 5th local).  Wedged between these two D1 girls is SBA’s Meghan Underwood who is only a freshman and relative newcomer to the high school ranks.  Meghan breaks into the top 5 local athletes by breaking under 20 and getting the 4th place for local finishers with a time of 19:52.75.  Seems Division 2 will have some fun competition with a couple juniors and this new freshman going head to head for a while – could be interesting once the track season comes around too.  I like how close the competition is within each of these divisions, always good for the sport. 

In the boys Varsity contest, the winning time was a second slower than last year…. But like the girls, the quality of the field was again impressive to say the least.  The top 20 boys were able to break under the 17 minute mark, compared to only 13 last year.  Jackson Academy (MS) senior, Curt Knight took the top spot in 16:05.23 with West Plains senior, Camden Barrett (16:08.50) at 2nd and Andrew Tankersley (Boerne Champion) just a short ways behind in third with 16:12.50.  Camden was last year’s Brooks Twilight winner and so this win a bit of an upset but certainly not a setback.  Curt’s win puts both girls and boy’s varsity contests in the hands of Mississippi athletes this year.  

The boy’s team title went to West Plains HS with a total score of 45 points and well ahead of Rock Bridge’s second place total of 114 points.  Camden Barret’s second place finish lead off the West Plains team that also included Jeremy Inman (16:17), Jordan Inman (16:30), Nichols Ransom (16:58) and Josh Ingalls (17:03).  These athletes averaged 16:35.55 for the 5K distance and all came in the top 21 overall making them a difficult team to pass for sure! 

On the Memphis local side, Arlington’s sophomore Sena Murray was the first local finisher.  Sena is fairly new to the sport, running some this summer with a decent time of 4:19.75 in the 1500.  Sena came in 19th overall and certainly shows the high level of competition from nearby states.  Jack Goodwin (University School of Jackson) with a 16:53.55 was the top TN finisher with Tyler Smith of Siegel right behind him with a 16:54.22.  Houston team was the top local team at 7th overall and showing that Coach Martens still keeps both the boys and girls CC teams running strong every year.  Arlington was right behind Houston at 8th and Collierville at 14th out of the 45 teams scoring at this event. 

The boys college division ran the 4-mile course and the top spot went to Mississippi State’s Damian Roszko (20:02.56).  That puts the High School boys & girls and the college wins in the state of Mississippi.  Ole Miss athlete (yep, another Mississippi athlete) Mark Robertson (20:07.54) took the runner up spot and Memphis distance runner Dan Kuhman (20:11.55) finished off the top 3. 

On the women’s side, the top two athletes were teammates and both – yes again – from another Mississippi team – Miss State.  Rhianwedd Price won in a commanding 17:05.67, followed by teammate Lisa Ziegler (17:53.77) and third was taken with a kick by Rexi Parcells of Arkansas State (17:54.91).

The college division saw some local athletes coming to town for the competition.  I doubt I caught them all, but I saw Chelsea Ladd (Dyer County) running for Memphis and coming in 11th overall and also saw Abigail Topham (Cordova) running for Central Arkansas and getting 46th overall.  On the boy’s side, Drew Austell (Briarcrest) running for Memphis and getting 32nd overall and Matt McCurdy (St. Benedict) getting a top 50 finish for Centre.  Again, I probably missed some but it really is nice to see these athletes continuing their careers!


And again, perfect weather for a cross country meet and a huge thanks to Brooks, Christian Brothers University, Coach Hoffman, all the volunteers and all the sponsors for keeping this event in the area!  Put this on the calendar for next year if you missed it…. Whether you’re from the Memphis area or from any of our neighbors… from any State! 

See you on the track (and the grass)!

Coach Ted