Southland runners excel at Southland Academy Invitational #2
Published 8:58 pm Monday, October 1, 2018
AMERICUS – The Southland Academy varsity and middle school cross country teams turned in high marks at the Southland Academy Invitational #2 held at Southland Academy on Saturday, September 29.
In conjunction with the invitation varsity meet, the middle schoolers competed in the GISA Region 3 AAA Championship Meet. The Southland middle school boys team finished in second place behind region champion Deerfield-Windsor. The team was made up of Barrett Starlin, Matteson DeBaise, Ashton Ray, Thomas Fowler, Tanner Humphrey, Bryant Roland, Noah Sheff, Mac McMichael, Lee Graft and William Kinney.
Humphrey finished in first place individually with a time of 12:15.38. For Humphrey, getting in as many miles during the week as possible was a key reason for him being able to finish at the top. “It’s all about working as much as I can to try to get as many miles in during the week,” Humphrey said. “I don’t get to practice every day because I do football. I get to practice Wednesdays and Sundays. I run about 10 miles in a week.”
Humphrey’s teammate, Noah Sheff, finished in seventh place with a time of 13:42.47. Bryant Roland finished a little less than two seconds behind Sheff with a time of 13:44.28, good enough for ninth place. Right behind Roland was Mac McMichael, finishing in 10th place with a time of 13:48.31. Ashton Ray finished 16th out of 40 runners with a time of 14:56.38. Lee Graft finished in 20th place with a time of 15:42.69. Two other Southland runners finished with solid times. Matteson DeBaise finished with a time of 16:53.38, and Thomas Fowler finished right behind DeBaise with a time of 17:09.75. Two other Southland runners turned in fine performances as well. Barrett Starlin finished with a time of 18:19.03, and William Kinney was right behind him, finishing in a time of 18:31.94.
The Southland middle school girls’ cross country team also turned in a strong showing. The Lady “Runnin” Raiders finished in second place in the GISA Region 3-AAA Girls’ Championship. Unlike most team sports, achieving the least amount of points is the goal. Deerfield-Windsor won the team championship, scoring 29 points.
Southland was in second place with 47 points and Tiftarea Academy took third with 51. Individually, Julia Clare Hubbard turned in the best time for Southland. Hubbard finished in eighth place with a time of 15:20.41. Hubbard was a little more than nine seconds behind Emma Burnett of Valwood, who finished in a time of 15:11.12.
The next Southland runner to finish was Wimberly Hines. Hines finished in 10th place with a time of 15:50.91. The next four Southland runners finished right behind each other. Gracie Burrell finished in 12th place with a time of 16:09.03. “Coach told me to push through the pain and keep on going,” Burrell said. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to keep on going through to the end’. I was trying to make the top 10.” Taylor Humphrey finished right behind Burrell in a time of 16:10.15. Reese Graft was right behind Humphrey, finishing in a time of 16:21.03. Behind Graft was Brianna Brown. Brown finished in a time of 16:22.09.
The Varsity girls’ and boys’ teams competed in the Southland Academy Invitational Meet #2. The varsity teams didn’t have at least five runners competing, so they weren’t able to score team points. Valwood won the girls’ team title, finishing with 25 points. Fugees Academy finished in second place with 49 points, and Brentwood finished in third place with 67 team points.
However, in the girls’ competition, Southland’s Elizabeth Law won the girls’ race in a time of 21:57.03. “It took a lot of extra mental strength to sprint for so long because I didn’t get out easily,” Law said. “I just told myself that I was going to do my best. My coaches told me that I needed to get out quick because a lot of these opponents are really good, and if I didn’t lead them, I would be stuck towards the back. I just did my best and the Lord gave me the strength to keep running and I didn’t die.”
The next Southland runner to finish was Jadie Burrell. Burrell finished in 17th place in a time of 27:03.75. For Burrell, it was all about running the best she could depending on how she felt. “I was just going to run however I felt and just keep on going,” Burrell said. As far as how much the mental factor played a part in how well she ran, Burrell said that it was about 89 percent mental. Burrell went on to say that she needs to train more and train harder. Bentlee Roberson also competed in the race for Southland. Roberson finished in a time of 29:26.69.
In boys’ action, Grace Christian won the team title with 27 points. Tiftarea Academy finished in second place with 51 points and Fugees Academy finished in third place with 55 points.
For Southland, Max Foster had the best finish for the “Runnin” Raiders. Foster finished in third place with a time of 19:29.88. For Foster, mental belief played a huge part in his success. “I thought I’d start out pretty fast and then pace myself after the first mile,” Foster said. “I had an off day today. I had a cramp. I don’t know if I didn’t get enough sleep last night or something. I ran about a minute slower than my personal best, which is 18:27. It is definitely mostly mental. All sports, I think, are 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. If you don’t get your mind believing that you can do it, then you really can’t do what you want to do. It’s mostly mental for me.”
Foster’s teammate, Gray Torbert, finished in seventh place in a time of 19:55.03. “My strategy was to start out with a fast mile and not let that mile really affect me,” Torbert said. “I wanted to catch people as I ran by them. I tried to keep up with people and then go by them and just run and not think about anything but going out and getting a good time. I kept motivating myself to just know I could do it. I really didn’t struggle with it mentally. I was very happy with my time.” Southland’s Matthew Peck also competed in the race. Peck finished with a time of 23:07.53. Hunter Hockman also competed for the Raiders. Hockman finished with a time of 24:59.69.
Overall, Southland Cross Country Coach Ed Shattles was pleased with how the middle school and varsity runners performed. “I thought we ran well. I thought some of the girls and boys ran their fastest times of the year,” Shattles said. “We had an overall winner in the JV (Tanner Humphrey) and an overall winner in the varsity girls (Elizabeth Law). As a whole, I thought we did well. We’ve got state in about four weeks. We always want to run our best at state. The state course will be here. We’re familiar with it, so we should be able to turn in some good times.”
Southland Academy will host the GISA Region 3-AAA Region Championship Meet for the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams on Saturday, October 20. Southland will also host the GISA state meets for varsity girls and boys on Saturday, October 27.