ALL-STAR WEEK: Local runners Thompson, Akridge, Guthery compete in North-South Cross Country race

L-R: St. Bernard's Caleb Guthery, Cold Springs' Cole Akridge, Cullman's Will Thompson. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – This year’s Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) North-South All-Star Week is in full swing and Wednesday got things started with cross country. The girls’ All-Star race began at Auburn University at Montgomery at 7:30 a.m. and the boys followed them at 8. Four local runners were on the rosters for this year’s races but only three were able to compete. Cullman’s Della Kelly was unable to attend the event after earning a spot on the North All-Star roster. On the boys’ roster, Cullman’s Will Thompson, St. Bernard’s Caleb Guthery and Cold Springs’ Cole Akridge each helped lead the North All-Stars to a narrow 27-28 win over the South team.

Thompson finished second overall in the race behind Guntersville’s Sam Moultrie after posting a 16:46.50 and said he’s excited to see that he could hold his own against a strong field of competitors.

“Coming into this race my goal was to pack it up with Sam and some of the more elite runners in the state and I feel like I did a really good job of that,” Thompson said. “I was able to hang on, trust my training and Coach (Trent) Dean has done a phenomenal job with that this season and it’s really shed a light on what Cullman could become this year.”

Thompson hopes that this performance can help build more momentum going into the season and he’s already getting prepared for state coming up in a few months.

“We’re just going to continue training as usual,” Thompson said. “We kind of treated this like a workout so I just want to keep building on top of weeks and weeks and weeks and in 113 days we’ll be right where we want to be.”

Guthery didn’t feel great about his preparation for Wednesday morning’s heat but said he was excited to be part of the event and be recognized for his accomplishments in his sport.

“I don’t think I hydrated enough and it’s just way too hot out here for that. I should’ve planned for that more but it’s just an honor to be out here anyways, no matter how you finish,” Guthery said. “To get recognition for what you do just feels nice. You want to get to a point where you can compete with the best, which I didn’t do today, but hopefully I will by the time the season rolls around and we still have three months until state so I’m not super worried about it.”

Guthery recorded a time of 19:42.60 Wednesday and plans to hold off a little bit to give his legs some rest before the season gets underway. He’s confident he’ll be prepared when the Saints go for a state title in November.

“I don’t know if I gave my legs enough rest from last week because I upped my mileage a little bit. So, by the time we get to state, I’ll keep building, but I’ll taper off and be more rested and ready to go.”

Akridge wasn’t completely satisfied with his time of 18:57.40 on the course either but he was excited to see some strong competition before the season gets underway. He’s also just excited to be part of this year’s field and recommends anyone that gets the opportunity to participate to take advantage of the event.

“Today was not really anything like what I planned for, I planned to get out faster but right around when I hit the mile mark, my shins started hurting really, really bad so I just had to go with how my body felt but not too slow because I didn’t want to have a bad race. It didn’t turn out how I wanted it to, but it was a good race, I was glad to be invited to it,” Akridge said. “It was fun because it provides a lot more competition in the summer because we don’t really start racing or anything fast until the end of July so it’s good to start something and meet new people. I think it’s a great experience for anyone that gets offered to go to it.”

South Girls 19, North Girls 36
Samantha Rogers, Auburn (S)                         19:22.20
Claire Bolton, McGill-Toolen Catholic (S)        20:01.30
Isabel Valenzuela, St. Paul’s Episcopal (S)      20:28.20
Leslie Baxter, Baker (S)                                  21:13.60
Maggie Crow, Fort Payne (N)                         21:22.20
Emily Daniel, Lawrence County (N)                21:32.20
Jayda Fair, Ohatchee  (N)                               21:44.70
Sabina Ortiz, Mountain Brook (N)                  21:53.50
Sarah Parnell, Auburn (S)                               22:03.60
Sarah Lewis, Grissom (N)                               22:04.60
Alex Pitts, Mountain Brook Catholic (N)         22:12.70
Katherine Rush, St. Paul’s Episcopal (S)          22:27.90
Kasey Ezekial, Colbert Heights (N)                 22:59.60
Jaycee Biffle, Rogers (N)                                23:04.50                     
Brooke DuPlantier, Fairhope (S)                     23:35.90
Allison Boyd, St. Michael Catholic (S)             24:11.90

North Boys 27, South Boys 28
Sam Moultrie, Guntersville (N)                      16:44.90
Will Thompson, Cullman (N)                          16:46.50
Judson Hardin, Alabama Christian (S)             16:48.20
Carson Barlow, Baker (S)                              17:11.80
Ethan Rowe, Daphne (S)                                17:22.10
Savian Taylor, Smiths Station (S)                    17:29.80
Andrew Roberts, McGill-Toolen Catholic (S)  17:32.30
Raleigh Stamps, Rogers (N)                           17:35.20
Mac Brooks, Hewitt-Trussville (N)                 17:45.90                                          
Cole Arrington, Auburn (S)                            17:47.80
Tyler Rathburn, Enterprise (S)                        18:23.00         
Myles Cook, Bayside Academy (S)                  18:33.40
Cole Akridge, Cold Springs (N)                       18:57.40
Luke Larson, White Plains (N)                        19:11.40
Caleb Guthery, Saint Bernard Prep (N)          19:42.60
Joseph Perrella, Beauregard (S)                     20:20.30
Justin Porterfield, Zion Chapel (S)                  20:57.50
Guy  Greenhaw, Athens (N)                           21:17.10 

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Nick Griffin