Teams From 8 States Slated To Race At Memphis Twilight

Lafayette runners out of Missouri, Grace Tyson and Natalie Barnard, placed first and third in a rainy Varsity Girls race last year but will not be one of the teams returning in 2023. 

Eight States Descend On Memphis

The Memphis Twilight is kind of the unofficial start to the Memphis area cross country season. Of course, this race brings in much more than just the local Memphis athletes so it tends to be quite the test this early in the season.  Schools from Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri and even Texas like to make the trip to run this event. With Middle school, High school and College athletes all running in the same venue, it's not hard to understand how big this race can be. It's also a fairly fast course that goes around several of the soccer fields at Mike Rose complex. The finish is a lap around the field inside the main stadium that will certainly add a little adrenalin rush to your race!

It seems in the last few years, seniors have pretty much taken over this event. Seven out of the top 10 in the High school division last year were seniors, both for the girls' and boys' races. The same for the girls in 2021. The race in 2020 was cancelled because of the Covid issue, but I'd have put money a senior would have won then too. Looking at races further back, it does seem to be the trend here.  But it's cross-country... anything can happen! 

One other pretty cool part of the Twilight is being able to stick around for the later races to watch some former high school athletes come here to run as College athletes. It's also nice to see some of these teams that bring in a ton of athletes! For instance, the Tupelo Golden Wave will bring in 89 athletes to the Twilight. The Huntsville Alabama Panthers team has even more with 102 registered athletes

The records for this race are nothing to balk at either.  This race does bring in several superb out of state athletes, but surprisingly most of the records hail from TN athletes - at least for right now they do.  Both middle school records are from local athletes. Felicity Bost has the MS girls at 6:55.42 set in 2014 (she now runs at Memphis) and Silas Winders had the middle school record until Andrew Brown (Tupelo MS) broke it last season (I know, Silas isn't exactly local but that family has run this race enough and won enough that I'm calling him local anyways).  And speaking of Andrew, we mention him later since he is now making his mark in the high school ranks.  The girls high school record is the other out of State one and that was set in 2013 at 17:34.07. Both the boys and girls records are tough ones to beat, but the talent level of the athletes running on Saturday... well... we'll have to just run the race and find out! 

I don't think anybody has actually said this, but I think there is an underlying competition to be the first 'local' athlete to cross the finish line! So... let's take a look at who we know will be racing this year. For this article, I'll break down the athletes by State and start with the Tennessee high school athletes registered to run at this race.


One Tennessee athlete to be sure is in your peripheral vision will be Simon Ally. Although Simon is young, his racing experience is prolific and he is someone you'll want to be watching for several years. He comes from a running family, a good running family, and competition is in his blood for sure (does Miles Ally ring a bell?). Let's see, in 2021 (I think 7th grade??) he ran a 15:08 for the cross country 4K. He's run the Memphis Twilight Classic several times and so the venue is familiar to him. Of course, this is his first time racing the high school distance here, but odds are, he's going to want to make it a good one!

Simon Ally at the TMSAA State Championship last spring.

Dante Torres from Bartlett will be one of the local athletes to keep an eye on. He set a PR last year at his Region championships with 16:18. Although not official, he had a time trial of 16:06 a little while ago so he is due for a good PR Saturday.  He's also one that used the track season to bring his speed to the top. At a very competitive Houston Track Classic last spring, he ran a PR of 9:50.14 in the 3200 and a couple weeks later dropped his 800 time (2:10) and 1600 (4:41). He'll have his teammate, Andrew Moore in the field which should push both of them to get a good spot near the top. Houston's Thomas Dickinson (16:41) looks to take the lead off spot for the Houston team and I wouldn't count him out to have a good day either.


Memphis East in their debut at the West Tennessee Jamboree.

Another local to keep an eye on will be Charlie Palmer of Memphis East. Charlie has improved year by year and he leads the way in the D1 A/AA division in the area. Charlie just ran (Aug 12) a 12:28 in the 3500M West TN jamboree and he set his 5K PR last season (17:12) but has improved since then and I'd expect to see a fast time from him this season. Arlington also has a potential top local finisher in Lucas Black. He's dabbled in the 16's with his PR of 16:40 and so could post a good time on this course.

For the ladies' high school competition out of the Memphis area will be a strong front runner in Hutchison's Meriel Rowland (18:23 PR). Surprisingly enough, Meriel has not run this race in the past but her running resume is very diverse and this course should be a good fit for her powerful running style. She's run some very impressive times on some tough courses... the Frank Horton, MYA Championship course, the State course. Meriel has times that are just a touch faster than last year's runner up at this race, Lauren Rutlin, and so could be a top contender for the fastest athlete to cross the finish line.

Rowland and Marsh paced each other to sub-11 in the 3200m at the Houston Track Classic last spring.

One other solid Memphis competitor that likely will be pushing Meriel will be Zoe Marsh (18:29 PR). Zoe didn't run that well at the Twilight last year (I guess didn't like the rain!). But that was an anomaly for sure since after that, she just blistered her way through the season. Then she set all kinds of PR's during her track season. I expect she'll make up for last year in a good way on Saturday.  Zoe will also have some teammates helping push her to stay strong with Ava Stockdale, Lindsey Barnes, Emma Thweatt, Rachel Tankersley, Nora Newhouse, and the rest of this highly talented Houston team.  This should be a really good battle between two amazing Memphis area athletes as well. I can see Houston making a run on the team title as well this weekend.

A few other locals to keep an eye out for would be Collierville's Scarlett Nash (19:53) and Maya McCloskey (19:57). These girls seem to have times that closely match each other's and that could be a help when they feed off each other during the race.

Now let's take a quick look at some of the athletes making the trip here from several states nearby.  The Memphis athletes are going to be up for a strong challenge from a lot of these athletes.