Local teams perform well at Oak Mountain XC meet

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

NORTH SHELBY – Several teams took to Heardmont Park on Saturday, Sept. 19, to participate in the Oak Mountain XC Invitational and put together strong performances, including one of the state’s best runners, who happened to be on the host school.

Coming off a second place finish in last year’s state championship meet, Walker Cole entered this season with a ton of confidence and it continued to grow in his home meet.

The senior won the event with a time of 15:51.88, giving him the only sub-16 time. In three meets this season, he has now won two, finished third in the other and ran all three in less than 16 minutes.

He highlighted a third place team finish for the Eagles in an event that featured 18 teams and 162 individual runners.

Locally, Thompson, Helena, Pelham, Westminster at Oak Mountain and Indian Springs competed all competed in both races, but it was the Eagles who stood out in both finishing third in the boys’ race and fourth in the girls’ race.

In the boys’ race, the Eagles had top 35 finishes from three runners in addition to Cole. The highlight of those was senior Hunter Wright, who finished 12th with a time of 17:06.34.

Noah Arrington was Oak Mountain’s only other top-30 finisher. The junior finished 26th with a time of 17:52.65. Behind that, Kenny Chavez finished 33rd with a time of 18:07.63.

Thompson posted the next highest team finish in the race in sixth thanks in large part to Jackson Hamlin and Cameron Prosser. Hamlin was the Warriors’ highest finisher in 21st thanks to a time of 17:36.05, while Prosser finished 37th with a time of 18:10.84.

Jacob Cofield finished 53rd for Thompson, while Walker Bobo, Reid Tindell, Aden Carter and Ethan Jones finished between 63rd and 69th.

The Helena Huskies finished ninth in the team standings with Barrett Draiss finishing as their highest finisher in 66th with a time of 19:11.37. Trent Palladina and Grant Wilkins finished 76th and 77th, respectively.

Westminster at Oak Mountain also had some impressive finishers with Micah Adams finishing in 39th, Andrew Purcell in 57th and David Haskins in 71st.

Thompson Gennari was Pelham’s highest finisher in 81st, while Hayes Blackstone was Indian Springs’ highest finisher in 121st.

The highest finish in the girls race went to Westminster at Oak Mountain’s Hallie Porterfield, who finished the meet in 20:04.31, which was good enough for a finish of fifth.

In three big events this season, Porterfield has finished sixth, second and fifth.

The Knights also got top 50 finishes from Courtney Callahan and Natalie Porterfield. Callahan put together a strong showing to finish 21st with a time of 21:25.91, while Natalie Porterfield finished with a time of 23:14.57 to finish in 48th.

That helped Westminster’s girls finish sixth in the team standings.

The Oak Mountain Eagles also performed well, finishing fourth in the team standings behind Lauren Cole and Katie Wright both finishing inside the top 25.

Cole finished 11th with a time of 20:42.99, while Wright finished 25th with a time of 22:03.31.

The consistency behind that was also impressive for the Eagles with Avery Welch, Lexi Ray and Olivia Eldridge all finishing between 33rd and 42nd.

Welch and Ray finished 33rd and 34th, respectively, with Welch finishing in 22:23.60 and Ray finishing in 22:29.02. Eldridge finished 42nd behind a time of 22:59.84.

Madeline Hubbert, Mary Spina, Meredith Shoemaker and Kiersten Morgan all finished between 56th and 64th.

Indian Springs’ Elise Picard had a strong race as well with a finish of 27th behind a time of 22:05.94.

She finished just ahead of Helena’s Mallory Barton. Barton finished the race in 22:12.27 to claim 30th. Teammate Ashlynn Beery finished just a few spots in 39th thanks to a time of 22:53.02.

Thompson’s highest finisher was Lauren Moon in 36th with a time of 22:34.48, while Pelham’s Brooke Monti was the Panthers’ highest finisher with a time of 23:25.73.