OAKVILLE - Cross Country in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) has become very strong in Cullman County.
That was a statement made by St. Bernard Prep School coach William Calvert Saturday at the 2017 championships. His proof is well displayed with two individual champions coming from the prep school in Andrew Sweeney and Leahrose Mami.
They were part of success for a good day with county teams, plus individuals making an impact in a sport that has grown in leaps and bounds locally and statewide.
A total of 1,737 runners gathered in Lawrence County Saturday, 895 running in the varsity competition with 842 girls competing from Class 1A through 7A.
Seventy-two schools were involved in a field of 12 from each class. Cullman County was represented by the varsity teams from Cold Springs, Cullman and St. Bernard, plus the Fairview girls and individuals by the Fairview, Hanceville and Holly Pond varsity, plus Holly Pond and Good Hope girls.
Since 2014, the county has claimed five state championships, two by Cold Springs, two by St. Bernard girls and one from St. Bernard's varsity.
Cold Springs was second in 1A/2A to Westminster Oak Mountain.
Cullman got a runner-up in 6A to a very talented Homewood.
Top 10 team finishes were accomplished by the following. St. Bernard girls earned 5th place, Cold Springs girls finished 6th in the state, St. Bernard fourth, Fairview girls 9th, Cullman girls 9th.
That says how competitive the runners are in this county.
Sweeney and Mami left Oakville Indian Mounds Park with huge accomplishments to cap off their senior year at St. Bernard. Sweeney's success in 2017 began with an invitation in the summer to the AHSAA inaugural All-Star run in Montgomery.
Sweeney established a new course record in his classification at 16:02. It was the seventh time in the season he earned championship hardware.
Mami was a brides maid in 2016. This time she turned the tables on Whitesburg Christian's Hannah Tarwater. Tarwater won the title as a junior, but could not repeat it with Mami ready to run and perform her fastest time of the year at 19:24.
Cullman's Eli Wilhite ended his prep career 4th best in 6A. Wilhite has been the most notable runner for the Bearcats all fall.
Teammate Tucker Adkison, a senior, got a berth on the All-State team with a 13th place finish.
Cullman County girls champion Alex McDonald of Fairview competed hard, placing 25th in Class 5A. McDonald was just two minutes behind the winner Olivia Andrews, an eighth grader from Faith Academy at 18:59. McDonald ran the event at 21:00.
The future is strong thanks to the following underclass athletes that found their way to All-State honors.
Ava Akridge of Cold Springs (8th grader) 10th in 1A/2A girls.
Camilla Chambers of Holly Pond (Freshman) 8th in 3A girls.
Trentan Williams of Cold Springs (Jr) 7th in 1A/2A
Jonathan Collett of Cold Springs (Sophomore) 12th in 1A/2A
Conner Lowery of Holly Pond (Sophomore) 10th in 3A.
Aaron Brown of Hanceville (Jr) 14th in 3A
Jackson Tucker of Cullman (Jr) 6th in 6A.
Others that will be a factor for next season that just missed out on Top 15 finishes include;
Will Thompson of Cullman (Sophomore)
Quinton Chambers of Fairview (Sophomore)
Keagen Hardin of Fairview (Freshman)
Aaron Spurger of Cold Springs (Sophomore)
Seth Walker of Cold Springs (Sophomore)
Cole Akridge of Cold Springs (Sophomore)
Joseph Arriaga of St. Bernard (Freshman)
Joey McCarthy of St. Bernard (Jr)
Francis Mami of St. Bernard (Freshman)
Della Kelly of Cullman girls (Sophomore)
Jennifer Aviles of Cullman girls (Sophomore)
Mattie Green of Cullman girls (Sophomore)
Sadie Terry of Cold Springs girls (Sophomore)
Brooke Crider of Cold Springs girls (Freshman)
Alyssa Jackson of Cold Springs girls (Sophomore)
Bijou Phillips of Good Hope girls (8th grader)
Carrington Chambers of Fairview girls (7th grader)
Angelica Antibero of Fairview girls (7th grader)
Emma Gardner of Fairview girls (Sophomore)
Alyssa Harper of Fairview girls (Sophomore)
All of these experienced runners will be a year up in maturity, plus understanding what it takes to raise the level of performance when the season begins in late August under extreme humid conditions to mid November with cooler temps, wind and courses that are not drenched with dust.
In the last four years, Cullman County can make it be known that championship trophies and individual titles have been claimed from the site of the AHSAA championships.
There is no doubt that the future promises plenty of more success.
Photo 1: Leahrose Mami has chipped removed from leg after winning 1A/2A crown.
Photo 2: Cold Springs' Trentan Williams gets chipped removed from 7th place finish.
Photo 3: Cullman runners get refreshed after a solid run in the 6A championship.
Photo 4: Fairview runner Alex McDonald talks with a competitior after 5A girls run.
Photo 5: Andrew Sweeney of St. Bernard talks with Nate Collins of Westminster Oak Mountain after claiming the 1A/2A state title.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton.