• 75°

Southland’s Burrell and Schley County’s Howard finish third and fourth respectively to highlight area runners at Southland Raider Run

AMERICUS – Southland Academy Senior Jadie Burrell finished in third place in the varsity girls’ race and Schley County Senior Dustin Howard turned in a fourth place finish in the varsity boys’ race, highlighting the success of the area’s local male and female runners at the annual Southland Raider Run held on Saturday, August 28 at Southland Academy.

In addition to the success of both Burrell and Howard, several other male and female runners from Southland, Schley County and Sumter County improved their times and had better results than what they had at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational the week before.

“I think everybody improved their time some this week,” Southland Head Coach Buck Kinney said. “We wee missing some people for different reasons, so we didn’t have everybody here, but the ones that I ran from last week, they all improved their times and their finishes.”

Burrell finished in third place in the girls’ race at the Southland meet with a time of 25:53.50, but actually ran a faster time of 24:27.14 at Furlow the previous week, finishing in eighth place in that competition. Jenna DeBary of Terrell Academy won the race in a time of 23:40.40 and race runner-up Alexia Sokolowski of Worth County finished with a time of 24:05.40.

Schley County Senior Dustin Howard (middle) finished in fourth place in the varsity boys’ race at the Southland Raider Run. Howard crossed the finish line in a time of 19:49.70.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

According to Burrell, who also plays softball for the Raiders, it’s a matter of making the time to put in the necessary amount of training every week. “I definitely need to start training a lot more than I have been this past week and that’s really the main difference because I was busy with softball,” Burrell said. She went on to say that though the Southland course is her home course that she practices on, it was a more difficult course than the one at the Furlow meet due to the fact that it was hillier.

The next local runner to cross the finish line in the girls’ race was Teigan Pepito of Sumter County, who finished in 13th place with a time of 29:16.60. Pepito finished about 11 seconds faster than what she ran at the Furlow meet (29:27.93).

Jadie Burrell of Southland Academy sprints towards the finish line to claim a fourth place finish in the varsity girls’ race at the Southland Raider Run.
Photo by Carol Burrell

Southland’s Ella Arnold was the next local female athlete to cross. Arnold finished in 19th place with a time of 30:54.40. Arnold’s time in the Southland Raider Run was approximately 45 seconds faster than her time at the Furlow meet (31:39.14).

The first Schley County female athlete to cross the finish line was Kayla Moyle, who finished the race in a time of 34:27.30. Moyle vastly improved her time at Southland, finishing a little over six minutes faster than her time at Furlow (40:57.19). Moyle’s teammate, Malia Harden, finished the Southland race in a time of 38:40.70, while her other Wildcat teammate, Kaleigh Johnson, finished in a time of 39:21.70. Other local female athletes who turned in strong finishes included Sarah Renfroe (Schley County: 41:40.00) and Abby Kirkland (Schley County: 42:02.10).

Southland Academy Junior Ella Arnold finished in 19th place with a time of 30:54.40 in the varsity girls’ race at the Southland Raider Run.
Photo by Carol Burrell

As far as the team standings were concerned in the girls’ competition, Schley County finished in sixth place with 142 points, followed by fifth place finishers Webster County (129 points) and fourth place finishers Fullington Academy (96 points).

Trinity Christian-Dublin was the meet runner-up with 43 points and Terrell Academy won the girls’ team competition with 39 points.

In high school boys’ action, Dustin Howard of Schley County turned in his second straight top 10 performance by finishing in fourth place with a time of 19:49.70. Howard not only improved his placing from the week before at the Furlow meet, but also his time, as he finished approximately 33 seconds faster than his time at Furlow (20:22.14).

Nolan Lane of Trinity Christian-Dublin was the race champion with a time of 17:50.70 and Eyan Zupko of Worth County was the race runner-up, as he finished in a time of 18:12.60. Jack Miller of Trinity Christian-Dublin finished in third place just 20 seconds ahead of Howard with a time of 19:29.40.

As far as the team standings were concerned, Southland Academy turned in a fourth place finish. The Raiders finished with a total of 114 points and barely edged out Terrell Academy, who came in fifth place with 118 points. In the sport of cross country, the goal of each team is to earn the fewest points possible. Sumter County finished in sixth place with 119 points and Schley County finished right behind the Panthers in seventh place with 136 points. Trinity Christian-Dublin won the boys’ team championship with just 40 points. Tiftarea Academy was the meet runner-up with 77 points and Westwood finished in third place with 92 points.

Sumter County Senior Griffin Toms (middle) turned in a top 10 performance by finishing in ninth place in the varsity boys’ race at the Southland Raider Run.  Also, being that Sumter County High School is technically a “new school”, Toms is the first Sumter County HS athlete to win an award of any kind.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

The next local male athlete to cross the finish line was Griffin Toms of Sumter County. Having finished a few spots outside the top 10 at the Furlow meet the week before, Toms was able to grab a spot in the coveted top 10 at Southland, finishing in ninth place with a time of 20:36.40. “I feel awesome man!,” Toms said. “I didn’t get a PR (personal record), but I got top 10. I’m happy about that. Like I said, it’s not because of me alone. It’s my team. If it wasn’t for my team, I wouldn’t get the motivation to run.” Toms, who ran a time of 21:00.46 at the Furlow meet, improved his time at the Southland Raider Run by approximately 24 seconds.

In earning a medal in the race, Toms also did something rather historic. Being that Sumter County High School is technically a “new school”, Toms is the first Sumter County High School athlete in history to win an award of any kind.

Southland Academy senior Matthew Peck finished in a time of 26:10.60 at the Southland Raider Run.
Photo by Carol Burrell

The next local male athlete to cross the finish line was Southland Academy’s Noah Sheff. Sheff barely missed finishing in the top 10, as he finished in 11th place with a time of 20:43.50. “I felt pretty decent this morning. I did a good run. I just don’t have the endurance I built up last year. I need more practice and training,” Sheff said. Sheff’s teammate, Shaw Pinnell, was the next local runner to cross, finishing in 22nd place with a time of 23:56.90, which was about 1:24 faster than his time at the Furlow meet (25:20.59).

Sumter County Junior Josh Campbell finished the Southland Raider Run in a time of 28:19.00.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Sumter County’s Kyric Davis finished seven spots behind Pinnell in a time of 25:45.70 and Southland’s Matthew Peck finished two spots behind Davis in a time of 26:10.60. Peck actually ran two seconds faster at the Furlow meet (26:08.50), but felt more comfortable in this race being that he is use to the course. “This is my home territory so I’m a little more grounded and comfortable here,” Peck said. “I feel like I could have run a bit better because the time I made here was about the same I did on the last course (Furlow meet course). I am improving so I feel pretty good that I can get a lot better by the end of the season.”

Schley County Sophomore Kyler Walton finished the varsity boys’ race at the Southland Raider Run in a time of 28:15.70.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Schley County’s Kyler Walton was the next local runner to finish (28:15.70) and both Josh Campbell and Elijah Westbrook of Sumter County finished 39th and 40th respectively. Campbell crossed the finish line in a time of 28:19.00 and Westbrook was right behind him, finishing with a time of 28:25.10. Jacob Howard of Schley County finished right behind Westbrook in a time of 28:44.20. Howard ran a much-improved time at the Southland meet compared to his time of 33:35.55 at Furlow.

“I’m so much more happy about this one than the last one because I shaved about five minutes,” Howard said. “I still would like to improve my time and my stamina.”

In the varsity boys’ race at the Southland Raider Run, Schley County Sophomore Jacob Howard ran a time of 28:44.20, shaving off five minutes from his previous time of 33:35.55 at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational the week before.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Howard went on to say that one of the things he believes will help him improve as the season goes on is improving his mental toughness.

There were other local runners who ran strong times in this event and their names are as follows:

  • Lee Graft (Southland Academy: 29:13.60)
  • James Schopen-Davis (Sumter County: 29:22.00)
  • Kolden Kinney (Southland Academy: 30:54.40)
  • London Lee (Schley County: 30:57.80)
  • Hudson Barker (Schley County: 31:27.30)
  • Marcus Bateman (Sumter County: 33:08.90)
  • Latravis Angry (Sumter County: 33:13.20)
  • Wyatt James (Schley County: 33:14.30)
  • Corey Wright (Sumter County: 33:14.40)
  • Miguel Yanez (Schley County: 33:14.60)
  • Austin Graham (Schley County: 33:43.30)

Each of the coaches of the three local schools represented at the Southland Raider Run was also pleased with the improvement made by his/her squad within a week. For the Schley County Boys’ Team, it is a rebuilding year, as several fine runners, including standouts David Williams and Aaron Pinckard, graduated last year. However, Schley County Boys’ Head Coach Scott Burgess was pleased with the progress his squad made in just a week’s time.

Southland Academy Sophomore Lee Graft (right) finished with a time of 29:13.60 at the Southland Raider Run.
Photo by Carol Burrell

“It was good. We only have one returning athlete from last year on the boys’ team and we have two returning girls,” Burgess said. “We only have three returners out of roughly 20 runners, so this is everybody’s second meet. They’re all brand new to this sport and it’s very exciting to see how much they have progressed just in the short amount of time we’ve been running. It’s a good thing. It was a good day.”

Southland Academy Senior Kolden Kinney (in front) tries to hold off London Lee of Schley County (behind) in the varsity boys’ race at the Southland Raider Run. Kinney finished just ahead of Lee in a time of 30:54.40, while Lee finished in a time of 30:57.80.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

Beth Kinney, who left Furlow Charter to become the girls’ head coach at Schley County, was extremely pleased with her squad’s performance and improvement in one week’s time. “I think they did a really good job today,” Kinney said. “One girl (Kayla Moyle) cut her time by almost six minutes, so they’re improving. They’re still a young team. They’re going to continue to get better each week. We need to work on our foot speed and just getting our endurance a little bit stronger, but they did really great. I’m proud of them.”

Sumter County Senior James Schopen-Davis finished the Southland Raider Run in a time of 29:22.00, which was almost two minutes faster than his time of 31:09.82 at the Furlow Fast Feet Invitational the week before.
Photo by Ken Gustafson

As for Sumter County Head Coach Michael Pepito, he was really pleased with his team’s performance and improvement in this event. “It’s a lot better. It’s a different course, but as far as the overall performance, it was really well,” Pepito said. “They came in and performed strong. A lot of their times in this race were faster than last year’s second race, so they’re making a huge improvement and we’re just getting started.”