Cross country teams warm up for sectional meets

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, October 27, 2021

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For the five cross country teams in the county, the first step to a state title begins with the sectional meet scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 28.

The top four girls and boys’ teams in each class of a section and the top six individuals not on the section rosters of the four qualifying teams will advance to the state championship meet in November.

Straughn’s Trinity Jennings, left, and Reagan Bartholomew look forward to competition at the sectional meet. Jennings has collected seven wins overall in eight meets this fall.

In 1A-2A Section 1, Florala, Pleasant Home, and Red Level will compete in a 14-team field beginning at 10 a.m. at the Covington County Schools Track Facility.

Red Level Head Coach Todd Smith said their runners have shown tremendous growth from their first meet of the year through their last one on Saturday. Kennedy Lord, Kayden Lord, Grayson Hodges, and Luke Hodges will represent RLS in the sectional meet.

“We have a really unique team in that we have two sisters and two twin brothers. These kids have really rallied around each other and pushed each other to get better over the course of the season. We have seen tremendous gains in our times. At our third meet, all of our runners set personal records. With all of them improving their personal best by at least two minutes, that is extremely hard to do. They show up to practice every day and work extremely hard. Three of them play multiple sports, so they end up running many days on their own personal time.”

Smith added that it is a testament to their character and persevering spirit. “They are fun to coach and are all excellent students. For me, the most important part is that they put the classroom first. We are looking forward to sectionals with great enthusiasm. We know that the talent level will be high, and we are ready to meet that challenge head on,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron, and we hope that by running against the best, we will push ourselves even harder.”

In 3A Section 1, Opp will compete in a 10-team field beginning at 3 p.m. at Eastgate Park in Ashford.

In 4A Section 1, Straughn will compete in a 13-team field beginning at 11 a.m. at the Baldwin County Bicentennial Park in Stockton.

Straughn Head Coach John Evers said they are hard at work preparing for the sectional. “Trinity Jennings and Reagan Bartholomew will be competing and qualifying for the state meet scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 6 in Oakville, Alabama. Trinity is 7-1 on the season. The only race she has not finished first was when she came in 13th out of 150 runners from all over the Southeast. Reagan has run well and has a third and fourth place finish in a couple of races this season. She ran a personal best this season and has improved as the season went on. I expect both girls to qualify for state.”