On Saturday, September 23, the Alleghany Cougars hosted the Alleghany XC Meet at the Jackson River Sports Complex, beginning at 9 a.m. in the morning. Upon stepping out of my car that morning, I was met with an instant chill in the air. After a night of rain that was still hanging on in the form of a drizzle, a temperature somewhere in the mid-50’s, and a wind chill that made it feel like the upper 40’s—if I’m being generous— I wound up asking my son double-back for a sweater I left in my car the weekend before.
All that being said, I was amazed at every athlete crossing my path. Here I was, bundled up in a sweater still fighting the cold, yet hundreds of runners were on the ground stretching, some jogging around either to warm up their muscles or keep their body temperatures up, and some were seemingly unphased by the artic chill in the air as they donned their sleeveless tops and shorts.
No doubt about it. I was in awe of each one of them.
I then made my rounds, capturing photos of the parking lot and the enormous turnout at the sports complex, photos of the athletes as they lined up to run, and photos of parents passing by, searching for their son or daughter on the course. To say the least, it was exhilarating!
The Lady Cougars Varsity Cross-Country team had an incredible day! Those who competed for the girls in the 5000-meter run were Kiera Lowman (18:06.17), Neveah Wills (20:52.45), Macyn Cash (21:07.06), Faith Barron (21:10.47), Meredith Minter (25:30.62), Joowon Chung (25:36.64), Haley Harmon (27:46.03), and Taylor Jenkins (28:36.58). Lowman took first place among 130 other runners she competed against. She also “broke her own personal best record and the meet record,” according to middle-school coach, Erin Bartley.
Bartley’s husband, Jeremy Bartley, coaches both Varsity AHS Cross-Country teams and added, “I was extremely happy with the Invitational. We had a lot of compliments from other coaches. Our Varsity boys are improving and beat their expectations. Our Varsity girls ran well, despite having two girls in the top six out, and one coming back from injury. Kiera continues to compete and reach her goals each week.” The girls finished in fifth place with a team score (out of 16 teams) of 1:46:47. The top five teams in the order they placed were Wilson Memorial (1:44:44), Liberty (Bedford, 1:45:35), Christiansburg (1:46:35), Rockbridge County (1:47:37), and the Alleghany Cougars.
Prior to the Varsity Lady Cougars competing, the Varsity boys approached the starting line to show the county what they were made of. There were eight runners competing in the 5,000-meter run for the Alleghany Cougars Boys Cross Country Varsity team: Maddox Wickline (18:19.20), Josh Anglin (18:43.37), Evan Bishop (19:13.90), Trevor Jonas (19:24.24), Nick Powell (19:34.11), Nolan Nicely (20:04.80), Rilee Webb (20:18.68), and Zeke Downey (20:29.90).
The gentleman who won the meet, Kovyk Chandler of Parry McCluer, also broke the course record, pulling in a time of 15:50.47. The Alleghany Cougar team also had several personal best times, revealing their hard work, dedication, and constant desire to improve every time they approach that starting line. As a team, Alleghany finished in 10th place out of 20 teams with a team score of 1:35:15. The top five teams in the order they placed were Christiansburg (1:25:37), Floyd County (1:26:44), Parry McCluer (1:26:49), Salem (1:28:50), and Wilson Memorial (1:29:12).
The five Junior Varsity (JV) boys who competed (out of 79 total runners) in the 5,000-meter run were as follows: James Ross, Brady Prior, Jackson Westfall, Calvin Craft, and Ryan Tucker. JV finished in 7th with a team score of 1:50:00. The top five teams in the order they placed were Wilson Memorial (1:38:55), Floyd County (1:41:31), Christiansburg (1:44:05), Riverheads (1:45:02), and Lord Botetourt (1:47:13).
There were 15 middle schoolers who competed on Saturday. Head Coach Erin Bartley gave her insight as to the difference between middle-school runners in the 6th grade vs. runners in the 8th grade. “In middle school, the kids are still learning how to race. Their bodies are also quickly changing— even over the course of one season… There’s such a huge difference in the strength of an 8th grader compared to a 6th grader. They just have to understand that if they stay consistent, they will experience the result they want. So, it’s important as a coach to remain positive and provide good support and encouragement,” Bartley said of the “physically and mentally challenging sport.” Given what I have seen, I would have to agree.
The middle school boys who competed in the 3,000-meter run were as follows: Levi Bartley, Nolan Rosales, Isaiah Humphries, Tanner Kenny, Harper Brown, TJ Short, Cole Bowser, Lincoln Rosales, Gabe Craft, Jacob Clark, Everett Craft, Eliot Chung, Heaven Bailey, Lennox Webb, and Jack Shull. They were among 120 runners and finished in 7th place with a team score of 1:01:07. The top five teams in the order they placed were Wilson Middle School (55:24), Maury River (56:23), William Byrd (59:48), Eastern Greenbrier (1:00:46), and Hidden Valley (1:00:10).
Middle school girls who competed in the 3,000-meter run were Elin Heck, Daisy Hodges, Charlotte Taylor, Willow Morgan, Madilyn Via, Carlea Weikle, Ava Nicely, Addi Stull, Gabi Woodson, Harlee Lewis, and Mia Hoylman. They competed against 84 other runners and finished in 5th place with a team score of 1:06:48. The top five teams in the order they placed were Valley Blaze (1:01:25), Hidden Valley (1:03:43), Wilson Middle School (1:05:01), Eastern Greenbrier (1:05:10), and the Cougars.
The next race will be held at 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 30, at Greenbrier East High School in West Virginia for the Spartan Invitational.
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