SF boys, girls sweep Baldwin County cross-country crowns; Evans, Walker win individual titles

Tony Whitehead twhitehead@gulfcoastnewspapers.com
Posted 10/19/13

LOXLEY, Ala.—Seeing red ahead. That was the view for a lot of runners Saturday as the scarlet-clad Spanish Fort girls and boys cross country teams swept to varsity victories in the 2013 Baldwin County Championship meet at Loxley Municipal Park. …

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SF boys, girls sweep Baldwin County cross-country crowns; Evans, Walker win individual titles

Posted

LOXLEY, Ala.—Seeing red ahead. That was the view for a lot of runners Saturday as the scarlet-clad Spanish Fort girls and boys cross country teams swept to varsity victories in the 2013 Baldwin County Championship meet at Loxley Municipal Park. Conditions were cool but damp as a drizzle began during the girls race and steadily intensified to umbrella-deployment status through the boys contest.

“Yeah, there was a lot of red up front out there today,” said Spanish Fort coach Mike Rauch whose team hosted the event. “That’s what we wanted, that’s what we worked for, a sweep.”

The Toro girls won their seventh consecutive county title, while the SF boys reclaimed the crown after a three-year reign by the Fairhope Pirates.

“The goal this week was to win both middle school races earlier in the week (Tuesday), and both of these races today, which we did,” said Rauch who took over the CC and track duties at SFHS three years ago. “The kids worked real hard on the middle school side as well as the varsity side, and this is the reward for it. This is the first time we’ve won a county varsity boys’ title since I’ve been coaching them, so it was a good day for us.”

The Lady Toros ran away with the top scoring places defeating Gulf Shores 26-89, Fairhope edged out Robertsdale 94-96 and Daphne shaved by Foley 101-102. In the boys order of finish, Spanish Fort outpaced Fairhope 28-41, Daphne was third with 68 followed by Baldwin County’s 121, Robertsdale at 142 and Foley’s 154.

Individually, Fairhope senior Hannah Evans got the hat trick plus one winning her fourth-straight county championship in 19 minutes, 54.78 seconds. Daphne senior John Alan Walker led the boys field to the tape with a 16:51.74.

SF’s Hannah Frain and Carissa Jones took second and third behind Evans while Caleb Casolaro of Fairhope was second and the Toros Will Kent led a stampede of seven red bulls among the top 15 finishers. The Lady Toros also had seven in the top 15, six in the top 10 which yielded the wide margin of victory.

Evans was happy with defending her title, but had hoped for a time under her 2012 winning pace of 19:32. “I was a little nervous before the race, mostly about my time,” she said. I felt confident though and the weather, being cool, really helped. But then after I had a pretty big lead after the first mile, I think I let up a little too much and then couldn’t make it up in the third mile. Of course I wanted to hit the sub-19, but I’m happy. My goal was to win first. Now I just want to keep working, getting faster for section and then state.”

Walker also took an early lead, but said he prefers company during the 3.1 mile race.

“It was rough. It was lonely for real. I like having someone to talk to. My goal pace all season has been to hit 5:20 each mile and I hit about 16 (minutes) at three miles flat. So I hit that right on the head, and then with the extra (0.1 mile) I picked it up and covered it in the last 40 seconds. I pretty much felt like I had the lead and didn’t want to capitalize more than I had to. But we had a long layoff and I was excited. Last night I could hardly sleep thinking about the race. And it was some awesome weather today—way better than anything we’ve had all season.”

Rauch added that with only one senior on each team, Katrina Garofano and Anthony Luna his middle school and underclass ranks came through and all that youth portends a possible dynasty the next few years.

“We’ve got four more years with these kids, and we have a bunch of eighth-graders behind them, and we’re trying to stack the program every year. We also have a pretty good base of runners on the teams, and we lucked out and got some pretty good middle school runners this year.”

Luna, who also competes in middle-distance track events, had not competed before Saturday due to an auto accident in the late summer.

“He’s a very talented athlete and had never run cross-country before, but we’re doing this to get ready for track, especially the 800 (meters) but that (injuries) set him back. But he’s very dedicated and has worked really hard to get back to this point. Come track season, he should be ready. But this is really a team effort from all the kids, the coaches and the parents. We also want to thank the City of Loxley for providing this park for us. It’s a great site and we really appreciate it.’

 Top 15 individual medalists, girls: 1. Hannah Evans, Fairhope, 19:54.78; 2. Hannah Frain, Spanish Fort, 20:25.61; 3. Carissa Jones, Spanish Fort, 20:55.67; 4. Katelyn Hines, Foley, 21:08.37; 5. Mandaline Thomas, Daphne, 21:15.32; 6. Olivia Swan, Spanish Fort, 21:39.23; 7. Linsey Hrabovsky, Spanish Fort, 21:41.32; 8. Caroline Vegas, Spanish Fort, 21:45.43; 9. Sophie Bengel, Spanish Fort, 21:49.53; 10. Gabrielle Chunn, Robertsdale, 21:57.12; 11. Olivia Smith, Spanish Fort, 22:08.63; 12. Margaret Lloyd, Gulf Shores, 22:33.20; 13. Peighton Langston, Gulf Shores, 22:53.95; 14. Felecia Guthrie, Foley, 22:55.51; 15. Teagan Frank, Fairhope, 23:06.93.

Top 15 individual medalists, boys: 1. John Alan Walker, Daphne, 16:51.74; 2. Caleb Casolaro, Fairhope, 17:11.24; 3. Will Kent, Spanish Fort, 17:33.68; 4. Cooper Sewell, Spanish Fort, 17:40.34; 5. Kevin Jones, Spanish Fort, 17:57.13; 6. Jack Morgan, Spanish Fort, 17:59.59; 7. Connor Ryan, Fairhope, 18:00.54; 8. Quinn Thompson, Daphne, 18:11.16; 9. Jordan Frank, Fairhope, 18:25.10; 10. Matthew Pierda, Spanish Fort, 18:31.70; 11. Tyler Banser, Fairhope, 18:33.82; 12. Landon Cushion, Fairhope, 18:37.48; 13. Anthony Luna, Spanish Fort, 18:40.93; 14. Noah Brown, Spanish Fort, 18:45.51; 15. Chris Walding, Daphne, 18:50.66.

For complete results, visit: http://al.milesplit.com/meets/150220-baldwin-county-championship