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Local middle and high school cross country teams kick off seasons at Furlow Fast Feet Invitational

AMERICUS – Several area middle school and high school boys and girls cross country runners turned in strong performances in the annual Furlow Fast Feet Invitational held at the Sumter County Parks & Recreation (SCPRD) course on Saturday, August 24. The meet was hosted by the Furlow Charter School.

In the boys’ high school race, Schley County (SC) turned in the best team performance of the three local schools participating. The Wildcats finished in fifth place with 167 points. Pike County ended up winning the boys’ team championship with 69 points. In cross country, the scoring is such that the goal is to earn the least amount of points.

SC junior David Williams turned in the top individual performance of any of the local runners. Williams finished in 11th place with a time of 18:32.37, about nine seconds shy of a top-10 finish. Junior E.J. Tymes of Calvary Christian (Columbus) finished in 10th place with a time of 18:23.99. Tymes teammate, sophomore Andrew McGinnis, was the individual champion, finishing in a time of 16:53.32.

Schley County’s Griffin Toms fights off his competitors to cross the finish line in 78th place out of 220 runners at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Going into the race, Williams had a simple strategy: start out fast, settle into the pace and keep a top-10 position. Williams’ teammate, sophomore Dustin Howard, turned in the next best finish of the local runners. Howard finished in 17th place with a time of 18:48.60. Freshman Tanner Humphrey of Southland Academy finished in 24th place with a time of 19:19.24. Being that it was the beginning of the season, Humphrey was somewhat pleased with his performance. “It was pretty decent. It’s the beginning of the season,” Humphrey said. “I think it was a good race to start off with to start the season and get better and progress in times and just give all the glory to God.”

SC senior Daniel Iordanov finished in 42nd place out of the 220 runners participating. Iordanov said that he simply wanted to stay with his teammate, junior John Lightner. “I was just keeping up with John and then he slowed down so I was like ‘I’ve got to speed up.” Iordanov said. Iordanov was not only able to stay with Lightner, but was able to pull ahead of him. Lightner finished in 46th place with a time of 20:11.04.

Schley County senior Daniel Iordanov finished in 42nd place out of 220 runners with a time of 19:57.33.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

For Furlow Charter, the host school, freshman Edwin Gonzalez turned in the Falcons’ best time in the boys’ race at 20:20.02, putting him in 49th place.

SC junior Dylan Abair had the next best finish of the local runners. Abair finished in 57th place with a time of 20:37.31. Abair simply wanted to keep a good pace and slowly catch up to other runners, but according to Abair, there was one hill on the course that proved to be challenging. “There’s one hill in this place. I’ll run up slow to it and then sprint up and then pass most people,” Abair said. Abair’s teammate, sophomore Griffin Toms, made a strong kick towards the finish line and finished in 78th place, turning in a time of 21:31.12. For more race results, go to www.ga.milesplit.com.

Southland Academy’s Ryleigh Bell finished 11th out of 141 female runners in the annual Furlow Fast Feet Invitational. Bell finished in a time of 22:39.20.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

In varsity girls’ action, Southland Academy (SA) turned in the best team finish of the three local schools participating. The Lady Raiders finished in ninth place with 216 points while Schley County finished in 14th with 381. Pike County ended up winning the team championship with 90 points.

Furlow Charter freshman Edwin Gonzalez turned in the Falcons’ best finish in the varsity boys’ race at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational. Gonzalez finished in 49th place with a time of 20:20.02.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

SA senior Ryleigh Bell turned in the best individual performance of the local schools by finishing in 11th place with a time of 22:39.20. Junior Maya Wynn of Furlow Charter was the next best local finisher. Wynn finished in 15th place with a time of 23:13.14. For Wynn, this was her last race of the season because she is scheduled to have surgery on a joint on her toe.

The next best finisher among the local runners was SA sophomore Elizabeth Law. Law finished the race in 21st place with a time of 23:55.11. SC sophomore Grace Hardage, who finished in a time of 25:04.96, it was all about keeping an even, steady pace. “You’ve got to keep it even because most people start out fast in the beginning and then they fall out and they can’t finish it. You’ve got to keep it even the whole time,” Hardage said. Both the SC girls and boys varsity teams began their seasons by competing in the Mid State Cross Country Classic in Perry on Saturday, August 17. In that meet, Hardage ran a time of 24:43. Hardage’s teammate, Maria Fernanda, finished the race in a time of 31:01.65.

Southland Academy freshman Ella Arnold finished the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational with a time of 27:37.47.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Freshman Taylor Ragsdale was the Lady Raiders’ next best finisher with a time of 32:07.13. For Ragsdale, correct breathing during the race was the key to her being able to finish strong. “Breathe through your nose, out with your mouth,” Ragsdale said. Ragsdale’s teammate, sophomore Jadie Burrell, finished the race in a time of 26:21.68. Freshman Ella Arnold also turned in a strong finish for the Lady Raiders. Arnold finished the race in a time of 27:37.47. “I think I did ok for my first race,” Arnold said. For Arnold, it took a lot of work to get back to this point. With the exception of participating in one race, Arnold had to sit out the rest of 2018 due to an ankle injury. For Arnold, the strategy was simple. Keep the same pace the whole race and don’t start out too quickly.

Schley County’s Maria Fernanda sprints towards the finish line.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

SA head coach Angie Bell was very pleased with how all of the SA middle school and high school runners performed in the meet. “Overall, I thought my runners performed very well for our first meet,” Bell said. “We will be working hard each week on improving our individual times at each meet.”

Furlow Charter (FC) had two other runners turn in strong finishes. Sophomore Talana Holloway finished in a time of 33:03.66 and her teammate, sophomore Litzy Lepiz, finished in a time of 33:49.64.

Southland Academy freshman Taylor Ragsdale closes in on the finish line. Ragsdale finished the race in a time of 32:07.13.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

SC junior Lilly Bacon and her teammate, senior Zoe Bell, both turned in strong finishes as well. Bacon finished the competition in a time of 32:12.33, while Bell finished the race in a time of 34:53.93.

SC head coach Gabe Theiss was pleased overall with the performance of the Wildcats and Lady Wildcats. He mentioned that one of his top runners, Aaron Pinckard, is still recovering from an injury, while another runner, Peter Horton, had to take the SAT that day. “Overall, I think the team ran really well,” Theiss said.

Furlow Charter junior David approaches the finish line. Lane finished the race in a time of 26:08.78.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

In Middle School action, boys and girls from the various local middle schools did extremely well. The Southland Academy (SA) middle school boys team finished in fourth place overall with 118 points, just 18 points behind third-place finishers Calvary Christian. Furlow Charter (FC) finished in 13th place with 319 points and Schley County Middle School finished in 16th place with 382 points.

SA Eighth Grader Noah Sheff had a tremendous day on the course. Sheff finished the race in a time of 15:38.45, which was good enough to earn him an eighth-place medal. Furlow Charter (FC) eighth grader Christopher McGrady turned in the Falcons’ best finish among the middle school boys. McGrady finished in 15th place with a time of 16:22.48. Sheff’s SA teammate, sixth grader Mac McMichael, finished not too far behind McGrady in a time of 16:22.48. SA’s Turner Simmons finished a little over 17 seconds behind McMichael with a time of 16:48.55, good enough for 21st place out of 160 runners. Another SA runner, sixth grader Bryant Roland, finished in 35th place in a time of 17:21.34.

Southland Academy eighth grader Noah Sheff finished the boys’ middle school race in eighth place in a time of 15:38.45.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

FC’s next best finisher in the boys’ middle school race was eighth grader Dallis Hollis. Hollis, like the rest of his teammates, ran a strong race, finishing in a time of 18:24.39.

Schley County Middle School’s best finisher in the race was sixth grader Caleb Renfroe. Renfroe finished with a time of 18:30.44. His teammate, seventh grader Hunter Hardage, finished in a time of 18:52.88. SA seventh grader Shawn Pinnell finished strong with a time of 20:15.21, and FC seventh grader Chandler Lyles crossed the finish line in a time of 20:51.96.

Furlow Charter freshman Jordan Brown finished the varsity boys’ race in a time of 27:26.95.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

In middle school girls’ action, Southland Academy (SA) finished in fourth place with a total of 121 points. The Lady Raiders finished 23 points behind third-place finishers Deerfield-Windsor (98), second-place finishers Lee County MS (90) and meet champions Pike County MS (31).

The top finisher from the Sumter/Schley County area was eighth grader Julia Claire Hubbard of SA. Hubbard finished in 17th place with a time of 18:40.58. Her teammate, sixth grader Brianna Brown, finished right behind Hubbard in a time of 18:41.51. SA sixth grader Amelia Kinnebrew finished in 23rd place in a time of 19:19.68.

Schley County MS boys’ runner Jonathan Leggett closes in on the finish line: Leggett finished in a time of 25:22.53.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

FC fifth grader Paige Drinnon was the Lady Falcons’ top finisher. Drinnon finished the race in a time of 20:15.95. For Schley County MS, their top finisher was Abbie James. James crossed the finish line in a time of 21:47.54.

Southland Academy eighth grader Julia Clare Hubbard (front) and her teammate, sixth grader Brianna Brown (back) close in on the finish line of the middle school girls’ race at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Throughout both the high school and middle school races, each runner had his or her own strategy to turn in a strong finish. However, FC freshman Jordan Brown summed up what all of the runners set out to do. “I just kinda go out there and run,” Brown said. Brown finished the varsity boys’ race in a time of 27:26.95.

Schley County MS seventh grader Maddox Dukes finished the race in a time of 24:42.86.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

For total results on both the high school and middle school races, go to www.ga.milesplit.com.