The Scottsboro cross country teams enter Saturday’s Class 5A girls and boys 5K state title races as the favorites to claim the blue state championship trophies.
But despite all the times, numbers and predictions online at their disposal, head coach Luke Robinson has warned his team “that anything can happen at state” while pointing to last year’s girls race as an example.
“St. Paul’s was the third or fourth [ranked] team and won it,” he said. “[The runners] all have profiles on Milesplit[.com]. They see what everybody is supposed to do. But we know you can’t go by that. Everybody is real focused. They know what they have to do.”
The 2017 AHSAA Cross Country Championships are Saturday at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park and Museum near Moulton.
The Scottsboro girls race at 9:10 a.m. while the SHS boys race at 10:10.
The SHS girls are running for their 21st all-time state championship while the SHS boys are running for their 13th state title, including a second straight.
Scottsboro is a heavy favorite to repeat in the 5A boys race. Other 5A hopefuls are SJPII-Catholic (Huntsville), Lawrence County, Faith Academy and St. Paul’s.
Running for the Wildcats are seniors Devin Berry and Tadd Hancock, juniors Will Coleman and Bobby Parsons, sophomores Ben Gossett and Hal Leighton, freshmen Benson Atkins, Cooper Atkins, and Hayden Judge and eighth-grader Rex Green.
Running for the SHS girls are senior Hallie Bone, junior Amber Littles, sophomores Anna Carlson and Katie Jones, freshmen Hannah Cloud and Ava Duke, eighth-graders McCall Chandler, Maddie Gossett and Isabella Noble and seventh-grader Emma Bradford.
In the 5A girls race, Scottsboro and Lawrence County appear to be the top contenders, although St. Paul’s and Faith Academy could also factor in, Robinson said.
Lawrence County finished ahead of Scottsboro in the teams’ season-opening race, but the Wildcats returned the favor at the Jesse Owens Classic at Oakville, which was the start of a five meet winning streak. Scottsboro's split times between its No. 1-5 runners are nearly a minute faster than Lawrence County’s.
Meanwhile, the SHS boys have one of the best split times in all classifications, and Robinson has stressed the importance of keeping small gaps between each runner on Saturday.
“This week we worked on keeping those gaps small and making sure we keep [opposing] runners out of them,” he said.
“We’ve done a phenomenal job of that this year. We just need to make sure we do that again Saturday.”