Middle schoolers run strong

Published 11:38 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry


LAGRANGE – It was a true cross-country test.

Dozens of young runners braved the heat, and the hills, on Tuesday afternoon during a middle-school competition at Lafayette Christian School.

The course began and ended at the Lafayette Christian football stadium, and the runners made their way through the woods and other parts of the school property during the two-mile race.

“It’s got hills, it’s got winding trails,” Lafayette Christian coach James Skipworth said of the course. “It’s got everything. And the kids like the challenge of it. And it is challenging. There are a lot of hills.”

Among the local schools participating were Callaway Middle, Gardner Newman, LaGrange Academy, and Lafayette Christian.

Also competing were teams from Calvary Christian, Trinity Christian, Brookstone, and St. Luke.

Putting on the meet was a sizeable undertaking, and Skipworth said it was a team effort.

“We probably had about 35 or so helpers and volunteers,” Skipworth said. “It was a great thing for the school.”

In the boys’ race, the top local finisher was LaGrange Academy’s Beau Beall, who was fourth with a time of 12 minutes, 56 seconds.

Close behind was Lafayette Christian’s Isaiah Tusing (13:21), who was fifth.

Also finishing in the top 10 was Gardner Newman’s Colton Esposito (13:46), who placed eighth.

In the girls’ race, the only local finisher in the top 10 was LaGrange Academy’s Anna Beth Kinnersley (15:28), who was ninth.

In the girls’ race, Gardner Newman had three runners finish in the top 20.

Alyssa Rhaney finished 15th, Lauren Farris was 16th, and Sophie Nix placed 21st.

Delfina Martinez (21st) and Gabby Martinez (36th) rounded out Gardner Newman’s top five, and Alicia Quattrociocchi (37th) and Gracie Snellgrove (46th) also competed.

In the boys’ race, Esposito led the way for Gardner Newman with his eighth-place finish, and Seth Stargell was next in 20th place.

Walker Kemp was 24th, Javon Harris finished 29th, and Jaylen Brown placed 34th.

Also for Gardner Newman, Tim Jang was 37th, and Andy Patton finished 38th.

For Callaway Middle, Kameron Breed was the top finisher in the boys’ race with a 21st-place finish.

Payton Browning was next in 32nd place, and he was followed by Desmon Nunley (44th), Colvin Youman (70th) and Avery Brooks (72nd).

For Callaway’s girls’ team, Kayla Jackson was the top finisher in 55th place, and she was followed by Kadence Leithleiter (56th), Kaylie Flores (58th), Felicity Messerly (60th) and Angel Gore (63rd).

Callaway coach Chris Tatum said the program is making major strides.

“This is the first year we’ve had a full team,” Tatum said. “I started the cross-country team two years ago. So this year, we’ve finally got our numbers up. I tell them that anytime you cross the finish line, you’ve accomplished something.”

For LaGrange Academy, Kinnersley had a strong showing with her ninth-place finish, and teammate Suhyun Cho was 25th.

Also competing for LaGrange Academy were Emmilyn Horlander (41st), Willow Walker (48th) and Elly Grace Eiler (53rd).

In the boys’ race, LaGrange Academy’s Beall had a big day with his fourth-place finish, and Connor Roberts and Zachary Tures were 49th and 50th, respectively.

Jack Baker and Max Zachry completed the top five for the Warriors.

LaGrange Academy coach Will Long said all of the runners have been working hard.

“The kids just go hard,” Long said. “They’re a fun group, and they enjoy each other.”

Long added that “the biggest thing is building up their endurance so when you come to a course like this, and you race against a lot of good runners, you’re ready.”

Lafayette Christian had three boys competing, and it didn’t field a girls’ team.

Tusing blazed his way to a fifth-place finish, Mason Cochran was 11th, and Walker Hudson also ran.

“We’re in the development stage,” Skipworth said. “We’re starting to see it grow. We’re hoping to get a bigger team out here. We’ve got to build with the young ones.”