The North Sand Mountain boys cross country program is headed to state in just its second year of existence.
NSM posted a fourth-place finish at the Class 1A-2A Section 4 Meet at Choccolocco Park in Oxford on Friday to secure a spot in the AHSAA Cross County Championships.
The Class 1A-2A boys race is this coming Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Oakville Indian Mounds Park near Moulton.
Westbrook Christian won the sectional title with a winning low score of 52, edging runner-up Ohatchee by three points. Jacksonville Christian (117) finished third while NSM (143) edged Sand Rock (149) by six points for the sectional’s fourth and final state-qualifying spot.
“I was a little uneasy heading into sectionals because I was only going to be able to carry five runners, but those five runners did an outstanding job in some bitterly cold conditions leading us to our first ever berth in the state cross country meet,” said NSM head coach Reggie Culpepper. “I have a really great group of guys that always work hard and show up ready to compete.”
Jayden Culpepper, Lane Gamble and Josue Luna posted Top-17 finishes to lead the Bison effort.
Culpepper finished sixth with a time of 18:49.09 while Gamble was 10th (19:26.09) and Luna was 17th (20:12.78). Jonah Slay finished 40th (21:31.77) and Jack Case was 78th (24:39.19).
Meanwhile, Skyline posted a 10th-place team finish (246 points). Nathan Olinger led the Vikings with a 28th-place finish (20:48.04) — he was only three spots away from qualifying as an individual while Trever Saint was 48th (21:52.64), J.T. Hastings 56th (22:11.89), Tristan Roach 60th (22:36.29), Bryant Kennamer 67th (23:11.83), Karson Treece 81st (24:49.59) and Scott York 94th (26:41.77).
Running as individuals, Section’s Giovanny Vega finished 100th (28:14.62) while Draven Newsom was 105th (34:49.07) and Mason Blackerby was 106th (42:21.36).
In the Class 1A-2A Section 4 girls race, Section’s Jennifer Vega qualified as an individual for the Class 1A-2A Girls State Meet thanks to a seventh-place finish (23:31.84). Vega was one of the top-six finishers not on the roster of a top-four state-qualifying team.
“Jennifer is easily one of the hardest working people I know,” said Section head coach Stormy Stevens. “She is very self-motivated, which seems to be a dying trait nowadays. She set her sights on state since the beginning of cross country practice. She ran three days a week before school and two days a week after. She had her best race of the year at Sectionals. I hope her momentum will carry over to the state meet. She was the only person on our cross country team to make it to state this year, so she has all the pressure on her to represent us well. We know she will.”
Section finished eighth in the girls team standings with 171 points. Along with Vega’s finish, the Lions’ Morgan Armstrong finished 46th (27:59.33), Madison Armstrong 51st (28:18.42), Carley Patterson 53rd (28:20.22) and JoAnna Newsom 73rd (32:28.92).
Skyline did not factor in the girls team standings but did have four runners race as individuals. Katie Roach finished 31st (26:02.26) while Gracie Putman was 64th (30:38.12), Kiera Ivy 65th (30:38.98) and Kayla Skipper 79th (37:17.41).
Class 1A-2A Section 3 — At Madison, Woodville’s Russell Roswal finished 83rd (28:55.84) in the Class 1A-2A Boys Section 3 meet at Palmer Park on Friday.
Class 4A Section 4 — At Madison, the North Jackson boys cross country team (266) finished 12th in the Class 4A Boys Section 4 race at Palmer Park on Friday.
St. John Paul II (19) dominated the race while Rogers (112), Deshler (130) and Priceville (142) earned the sectional’s team state-qualifying positions.
Abraham Castro finished 31st (19:22.17) for the Chiefs while Daniel Fiegel was 53rd (20:11.86), Alex Roper was 62nd (21:05.32), Wences Ramirez 75th (22:42.65), Andrew Fiegel 76th (22:42.69), Edgar Sanchez 83rd (23:14.21), Jay Yates 84th (23:31.80) and Will Rich 104th (28:23.17).
Running as individuals in the girls race, North Jackson’s Delana Pierce finished 28th (23:51.25) while Emily Gilley was 43rd (25:43.36), Saiyni Ramirez 64th (36:01.51) and Melissa Cardinas 65th (26:03.36).