BREMEN – A warm Saturday morning greeted more than 1,100 runners in the 12th annual Cold Springs Kudzu Hills Cross Country Invitational.
The humid conditions kept volunteers and trainers on their toes after runners crossed the finish line at Cranford Stricklin Stadium.
A series of runners in all divisions gave more than 100 percent effort and paid for it with exhaustion once their race ended.
Several routines followed the pattern of what has been displayed so far one month into the 2016 cross country regular season.
This was the second largest field, 51 schools, to come and enjoy the atmosphere of running among the kudzu in southwest Cullman County. Fifty-six schools is the record set a few years ago according to information.
Cold Springs and St. Bernard Prep fought it out in both divisions with regular runners at or near the top of the standings.
Leahrose Mami gained another victory for St. Bernard with a winning time of 20:00.05. But Mami was the first of many to feel the humid effects and had to be assisted off the finish line.
"It was very hot," Mami said. The conditions were different on this day than one week ago when Mami ran the Fairview Invitational under cloudy skies and low humidity. The talented runner for the Lady Saints was able to get into the lead and have 106 other runners following her through the 5K run.
Ivy Edge followed Mami at 20:02.80 for second place. Holly Pond's eighth-grader Camilla Chambers had another respectable run, taking sixth at 20:57.10. Lauren McHan of J.B. Pennington was behind her at 21:05.60. It was the other way around the previous race in Fairview with McHan fourth and Chambers fifth.
Brooke Crider claimed ninth for the best run by a Cold Springs contestant. She timed out at 21:28.41.
Jaden Edge for St. Bernard took 11th at 21:40.97, teammate Claire Sanders 17th at 22:02.11 and Lizabeth Medina 22nd at 22:57.47. That sparked the Lady Saints to the title with 47 points while Cold Springs was second at 88, followed by Hatton, Altamont and Pisgah in the top five.
Other runners for Cold Springs included Sadie Terry 13th at 21:45.94, Ava Akridge 14th with a time of 21:46.62, Alyssa Jackson 16th at 21:52.60 and Abi Burrow 47th at 25:05.84.
For the second straight meet inside Cullman County, Cold Springs ran its way to the top spot with St. Bernard right behind the Eagles.
Cold Springs earned 46 points in the invitational while St. Bernard placed second with 57. Holy Spirit of Tuscaloosa was a distant third at 125, Pisgah 146 and Hatton in fifth place with 164.
But what turned out to be different this week was St. Bernard's Casey Guthery. A runner-up to Cold Springs' Jared Stanley in the Fairview race, Guthery had a personal best of 16:21.74. C.J. Lang from Cold Springs finished second at 16:27.26 with Stanley third individually, coming in at 16:40.72.
Andrew Sweeney from St. Bernard was fourth at 16:44.92, Jonathan Collett of Cold Springs finished 13th at 17:46.17, Mason Harris 15th at 17:54.80 and Trentan Williams of the Eagles 16th with a time of 17:54.85.
St. Bernard's Marco Tona grabbed the 17th position, finishing at 18:02.62, Isaias Robles 18th at 18:14.94 and Caleb Guthery 20th with a time of 18:15.54.
In the 4A-7A girls, Fairview was sixth with 208 points. Lawrence County won the title by scoring 58 with Florence taking second and West Limestone coming in third.
Alex McDonald ran her way to ninth place with a time of 20:55.35. The winner was Cassidy Winter from West Limestone, crossing the finish line at 19:05.08.
Emma Gardner wound up 31st for the Lady Aggies at 23:05.73. McDonald and Gardner have set the tone for the Lady Aggies throughout the season with respectable finishes.
Lawrence County prevailed in the varsity division of 4A-7A with Haleyville second and Florence third.
Florence took the junior high girls title, followed by Walker, Decatur and St. Bernard in fourth place. Anna Beth Guthrey of St. Bernard wound up seventh with a time of 15:44.33.
Florence also went home with the championship in junior high boys. The Falcons had 36 points to 53 for Walker with St. Bernard coming in fourth and Good Hope taking home fifth position.
Francis Rataj was the top runner for St. Bernard, claiming eighth place at 13:38.28. Eli Phares of Good Hope led the Raiders with an 11th place by a time of 13:50.08.
Cold Springs, Holly Pond and St. Bernard will be participating in the Jesse Owens Classic next Saturday at Oakville.
Fairview will have 13 schools joining them in the Hay of a Run Classic at Fairview Town Park on Oct. 4. Taking part in the event locally besides the Aggies will be Hanceville, Holly Pond, St. Bernard, Vinemont and West Point.
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