We are still reeling from the rollercoaster ride that was yesterday’s state cross country championships. It is bitter sweet that yesterday has come and gone in that we couldn’t wait for those 2 races to start, but when they were over it was hard to believe that the season was over and we have to now part ways and say good farewell to our 8 wonderful seniors. This season saw many peaks and valleys, but when the dust settled, the most enthralling part was how our program, how our family came together to finish this season out strong.
4A STATE MEET RECAP – View Photos (more photos available on Vidigami)
Photos contributed by Xing and Hutchens
The boys shot for the moon, but like just like how the late journalist Walter Cronkite would always sign off with, “And that’s the way it was. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.” They all knew it was a long shot to win, but they had to give themselves a chance. And that they did. When the scores came up, they finished a close 5th. Literally 6 points separated them from 3rd. Heavily favored Trinity Presbyterian won the state championship scoring the lowest point total of 64, fellow Montgomery school Montgomery-Catholic took the runner up spot with 78 points. Northside (Tuscaloosa) finished 3rd with 117 points, Anniston finished 4th with 121 points, and our Raiders finished 5th with 122 points. Defending 2016 4A state champions LAMP (Loveless) finished 6th with 162 points.
At the front of the boys race, Matthew Estopinal raced for the win. Defending 2016 state champion, senior Tanner King (Northside) and the talented junior, Trinity Presbyterian’s Charlie Lott who won the Outdoor Track & Field state championships in the 1600 meter and 3200 meter last spring were going to vie for that same title. After the mile mark, it was clear, the individual title was going to come from one of those 3 boys. Many lead changes happened over the next mile and after the highly touted switchback hills, Charlie Lott started to fade and the race was a 2 man race between Matthew and Tanner. Tanner also won the 800 meter championships this past Spring at the Outdoor Track & Field state championships with a 4A record 1:57.00, so he’s got some speed and Matthew knew it. With a half mile to go, Matthew threw in one more surge, Tanner covered it and with only 600 meters before the finish Tanner started to pull away. Tanner King won the state championship with a 15:55 and Matthew settled for runner up with a respectable 16:07.
Senior Kohl Kraus ran a season best 17:25 to finish 24th overall. Sophomore Lee Thomas set a new personal record 17:32 to take the 30th place. Eighth grader Eric Xing p.r.’d as well with a 17:52 and 45th overall. Sophomore Jack Schamban ran strong and finished in 51st overall with an 18:08. Our 6th place displacer Sophomore Max Pitsinos finished with a new personal record in 18:25 in 62nd place. The 7th place displacer was Junior Sims Fann ran a season best 19:26.74 and 95th place. The team’s 8, 9, and 10 finishers were Junior Chris Wiginton, Senior Esper Chao, and Junior Will Kessler in 19:42 (102nd), 19:49 (108th), and 20:05 (113th) respectively.
The girls watched the boys race and knew this wasn’t going to be an easy task. The girls were the slight favorite going into the state meet ranked 1st in virtual results over rival Montgomery Catholic. Montgomery Catholic also has the fastest girl to EVER run in the state of Alabama for the 5k distance, Amaris Tyynismaa. Amaris didn’t disappoint. She basically ran her own race, winning the race by over minute and 30 seconds over the runner up from Saint James HS Presley Miles. Amaris ran the fastest time of the day of ALL girls, all classifications by 45 seconds in 17:14! Our girls with that knowledge and maturity knew that Amaris would be the favorite and didn’t let it faze them. They stuck to the game plan, and executed it to beyond perfection.
Our top 4 girls, Freshman Emma Hudson, Senior Zoe Evans, 7th grader Sarah Kate Mitchell, and Senior Katherine Hunter attacked early. They kept pace with Montgomery Catholic’s Juniors #3 Katie Galvin and #2 Isabelle Cochran. Once the 4 of them had passed through the switchbacks, it was becoming clearer this was going to be a great day for these girls as MC’s Katie Galvin was fading and Emma Hudson was about to pass Isabelle Cochran. Emma Hudson finished 5th in 19:53, Zoe Evans finished 8th in a season best 20:13.52 with her 7th grade protégé Sarah Kate Mitchell finishing right behind her in 20:13.70 for 9th. All three of these girls earned “All-State” honors finishing in the top 15. Katherine Hunter finished 16th 20:46 to take our 4th scoring spot. Almost out of nowhere, 7th grader Claire Deaton runs a minute and 18 second personal record to finish as our 5th scorer in 20:54 and 18th place overall! Our 6th place displacer was Senior Elizabeth Johnson in a new personal record 21:15 and 25th place overall. The 7th place displacer was Junior Sara Hutchens in a season best 21:48 and 38th place overall. The team’s 8,9, and 10 were Junior Nisha Mailapur, Senior Caroline Stucky, and 7th grader Sydney Clary in 22:17 (44th), 22:51 (58th), and 23:48 (56th) respectively.
The Randolph girls won their second straight AHSAA 4A State Championship scoring 45 points, with Montgomery Catholic’s girls scoring 60 points to take the runner up team spot.
Our girls started the season ranked #1 and finished the season #1 and that is not an easy task to do. We had numerous coaches and cross country fans approach us and let us know of how impressed and amazed of how strong our pack running was and that neutralizing the “Amaris factor” is not an easy feat. The girls showed the heart of a champion and we are very proud of them!
It’s been one of the most memorable seasons since my first in 2003. Like I stated earlier, this recap is bitter sweet in that we get to celebrate a great end to a season, but we also have to end this season and must move on and forward. We are so proud of everyone who played a part in our season this year for all of your dedication and discipline to help our team to achieve the personal and team goals.
We are already looking forward to the 2018 season! Training starts tomorrow!
“In the end, it’s about the teaching, and what I always loved about coaching was the practices. Not the games, not the tournaments, not the alumni stuff. But teaching the players during practice was what coaching was all about to me.” – John Wooden