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Kristin Day sprints to the finish line for James Clemens at the Class 7A Sectional cross country meet hosted by James Clemens and held at Palmer Park. Both the Jets’ girls and boys teams qualified for the State Meet in the same year in school history. Contributed/Rajesh Patel

James Clemens Host Sectional Cross Country Meet; Qualify Both Squads For State Meet

MADISON- The road to the state began at Palmer Park in Madison as James Clemens High hosted the Class 7A, 4A and 1-2A Section 4 and Class 6A Section 6 Cross Country Meets. The top four teams and the first six individuals not on the elite six squads advanced to the AHSAA State Meet scheduled for Nov. 10 in Moulton.

Headed up by James Clemens head coach Drew Bell, there were 42 schools and 614 athletes in both boys and girls races making it the largest cross country meet ever held by a Madison City school.

“We’ve been planning this event for three weeks and I feel my address may as well be Palmer Park as that has become my second home,” said Bell. “I certainly had lots of help from our students and their parents in making the Sectional such a huge success.”

Huntsville High had clear dominance by winning both the boys and girls events while James Clemens qualified for the State Meet in both divisions for the first time in school history. Bell added, “Our boys may not have run their best as we’ve had some injuries within the squad, but we got down there (State Meet) and that’s what we strived for.”

In boys, except for an eighth place finish by Florence, Huntsville had six and Grissom three among the top 10 individual times. Grissom took the top two places with senior Allan Anderson coming in first in the 3.1-mile race with a time of 15 minutes, 50.61 seconds. Among those top 15 runners making the All-Section Team were junior Jean Pierre LeRoux of Bob Jones (16:50.33) at No. 12 and Alex Shah, 12, from James Clemens who completed the race at the No. 15 spot with a time of 17:21.13.

Those additional runners from James Clemens to make their way to the State Meet through the team qualifying were 19. Patrick Neely, 12, 17:40.63, 21. A.J. Sheldrick, 12, 17:46.26, 24. Aidan Brinkley, 9, 17:54.49, 27. Matt Hill, 10, 17:55.16, 31. Isaul Rubio Montano, 9, 18:06.21, 33. Tyler Gohlich, 9, 18:11.08, 36. Elliott Kliesner, 11, 18:28.68, Laith Qushair, 12, 18:36.29 and 42. John Fluder, 11, 18:46.03.

Those making the State Meet via individual performances included 20. Bradly Spindle, 11, Bob Jones, 17:43.03, 23. Shafi Muhammad, 12, Bob Jones, 17:54.23, 25. Patrick Moody, 9, Sparkman, 17:54.84, 28. John David Ray, 12, Sparkman, 17:55.35 and 29. James Garrison, 9, Bob Jones, 18:00.20.

The team recap had 1. Huntsville 24, 2. Grissom 43, 4. James Clemens 97, 5. Bob Jones 111, and 6. Sparkman 156.

The girls division showed much more diversity as Huntsville had six among the top 10, but the race was won by sophomore Mary Claire Ridgeway of Florence with a time of 10:04.99. Elizabeth Holcomb of James Clemens came in third. The senior Jet finished at 20:03.36.

Among those making the All-Section Team were No. 12 Hannah Thuss, 10, Bob Jones, 21:06.01 and No. 14 Kristin Day, 11, James Clemens, 21:09.19.

“Our girls started the season a little slow, probably worse than ever, but our training has been spot-on and they ran their season best times in the Sectional,” said Bell.

State Meet qualifiers from James Clemens included 16. Sydney Freeman, 9, 21:17.85, 20. Sarah Shirley, 10, 21:38.73, 28. Nikki Lipski, 9, 22:19.97, 30. Emmy Mattingly, 10, 22:24.47, Brittain Mattingly, 7, 22:39.72, 33. Harley Samsil, 8, 22:45.56, 35. Kaija Sorensen, 9, 22:46.89 and 36. Hannah Einhorn, 12, 22:47.64.

Individual qualifiers featured 24. Lauren White, 11, Sparkman, 21:53.74, 26. Samantha Menikheim, 7, Sparkman, 21:59.16, 29. Caroline Moody, 12, Sparkman, 22:22.95 and 34. Esther Stokes, 8, Sparkman, 22:46.25.

The final team scores included 1. Huntsville 24, 2. Florence 62, 3. James Clemens 73, 5. Sparkman 124 and 6. Bob Jones 161.

The meet was postponed by one day due to inclement weather, but the athletes were greeted by a gray overcast sky with a temperature at 50 degrees and a brisk northwest wind of 10 miles per hour. The course at Palmer Park was made up of grass and dirt with a few portions of pavement and gravel crossings.

Winning team members each received medals while All-Section Team participants reached a T-shirt.

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Digital version of The Madison Record – Feb. 28, 2024

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