OAKVILLE – The Chickasaw Trails Invitational has long been a benchmark for getting an early season picture of the cross-country pecking order, and the 16th annual running of the race, which took place at Oakville Indian Mounds Park on Sept. 10, was no different. There were a total of nine teams spread across six county schools that took part in the meet, and all showed signs of promise for the season that is still to come.
While there were a number of county teams running, Oak Mountain was noticeably absent from the Chickasaw Trails meet, and without the presence of Cole Stidfole and Caleb Van Geffen, it was Thompson’s Brandon DeMarcus Lee who posted the fastest county time, as the sophomore ran a blazing 16:10.18, which was good for eighth place overall and was the second-fastest time run by a runner from Alabama, trailing only Homewood’s Will Stone, who finished in 15:59.58.
While Lee was the top individual county finisher at the meet, it was Spain Park that took home the top place among county teams at the large school boys run. The Jaguars, behind the effort of freshman Charlie Trower, finished 12th overall out of 41 teams. Trower, a rising stud, ran a 17:07.14 to finish 40th in the race. Right behind Trower was Jacob Warner, who finished 43rd, and Morgan Becker also finished in 52nd place among qualifying runners to lead the Jags.
Thompson finished in 17th place in the large meet, primarily because of Lee’s blazing time. After Lee, the next closest Warrior finisher was Jacob Wyatt, who finished in 92nd place overall among qualifying runners with a time of 18:00.25. Helena finished one place behind Thompson in 18th place overall in the large meet, led by Blake Vaughn’s time of 17:50.01. Pelham finished 33rd overall, led by Robert Plummer’s 19:14.04, and Shelby County came in at 40th overall, as Jesse Jones led the Wildcats.
Spain Park was also the top finisher in the large school girls meet as well, finishing 10th out of 32 teams competing. The Lady Jaguars were led by Mary Katherine Tedder, who ran a 20:17.14 to finish in 19th place overall. Holland Lidikay finished two places behind Tedder in 21st place to help lead the Lady Jags as well.
Katie Strozier of Pelham finished in 54th place with a time of 21:37.13 and Emilie Chapple of Shelby County finished with a time of 23:54.87, but neither the Lady Panthers nor the Lady Wildcats had enough girls present to compete as a team.
Abigail Ford led Helena in 72nd place as the Lady Huskies placed 20th overall, and Emma Mayer finished 82nd to lead Thompson to a 24th place finish.
In the small school girls meet, the Westminster School at Oak Mountain Knights were the only county team competing, and they did not disappoint, as the Lady Knights finished fifth overall behind Sarah Kate Lipperd’s 21:00.59, which was good enough for ninth place among qualifying runners and was the 21st fastest girls time run. Katie Hoaglund finished 25th overall and Rachel Faulk finished 45th overall to lead the way for the Lady Knights at the race.