Small school teams and athletes from across the country travelled to Lubbock, Texas for the opportunity to compete beyond their state championships. They were competing against other similar sized schools for the right to be the Small School XC National Champions.
The Lubbock Christian University cross country course is a smooth and mostly flat course that allows runners to really get at it without a lot rhythm breaking turns.
After the first 400m, it was clear who the shakers and movers were going to be. Noah Graham of Marlington (OH) jumped out to an early lead. That was the position he was comfortable with and stayed in for the majority of the race.
After the early goings of the race, he was in control and it wasn't until the mile marker until Wyatt Hoover from Poth (TX) and Chandler Wilburn of Classical Academy (CO) joined him. As the race progressed, the same three runners stayed within 5-15 meters of one another. After crossing t2o miles, Wilburn pulled on the shoulder of Graham and the two would alternate taking the lead until about 800m to go.
With a half mile remaining, Wilburn executed his smart early and hard late tactic his coach preaches, "I felt like my pace was pretty good,came through the first mile around 4:50, I just tucked in behind the first place guy and then it was cruise to the finish." Wilburn's winning time was 15:47.38.
Graham was able to hold on to second place as he crossed the finish line in 16:00 and Hoover was third in 16:05.
BOYS 5000 METER RUN FINALS PLACE ATHLETE TEAM RESULT POINTS 1 Chandler Wilburn 11 The Classical Academy 15:47.38 1 2 Noah Graham 12 Marlington 16:00.19 2 3 Wyatt Hoover 12 Unattached USA 16:05.84 3 4 Elijah Wilcox 12 Salida High School 16:06.69 4 5 Darren Hayden 10 Frontier Academy 16:15.12 5 6 Mauricio Lara 11 Frontier Academy 16:21.41 6 7 Judah Alexander-Macias 10 Leander Texas Home School 16:24.36 0 8 Sebastian Groom 12 Frontier Academy 16:30.81 7 9 Colin Cernansky 10 Marlington 16:37.22 8 10 Nash Minor 11 Marlington 16:37.76 9
The team race was figured to be between Marlington, The Classical Academy, and Frontier Academy.
Those three teams were all in the mix, but it was Marlington building on their Ohio state championship and going on to win. They Graham was their lead runner with his runner-up finish, but the entire team ran impressively.
They had a 52 second 1-5 team split, but it was the 2-4 runners compression that drove them to the win. Taking Graham out of the equation, there was only 13 seconds between the rest of Marlington's scorers that helped them to the win.
The Colorado teams were right there in the 2, 3, 4 team positions. The Classical Academy was second and were almost as impressive as Marlington was. They had a 16:37 team average with three runners in the top 10. That helped earn them second place and with 70 points they were only 11 behind Marlington.
Taytum Goodman of Springlake Earth (TX) is making a name for herself in Texas. The sophomore is the back-to-back Texas UIL 1A state champion. She has dropped some fast times, especially for a small school athlete. But, people have wondered what she could produce in the 5K.
We found out what she is capable of doing today. In just her first ever competition over 2 miles, Goodman showed no evident signs of fatigue or slowing down. About her first 5K, Goodman said, "well, I want to do it again and now I know what it's like and how to run it. Now I'm ready for it next time it happens."
With unofficial splits of 5:11 and 11:00 through the first two mile marks, Goodman continued to stride through the final stages of the race and into a PR of 17:33. That makes her the ninth fastest girl in Texas at the 5,000m distance and the winner of the Small Schools XC Nationals.
Elle Stevens of Colorado Springs Christian School took out behind Goodman, but she didn't want to wait for the rest of the field. Through the first mile, she was a good 15-20 meters behind the leader before the gap was opened up. She found herself in between Goodman and the chase pack, but she ran very well and was able to hold off all challengers until under a mile to go.
The chase came from Hope Ahnfeldt and Cassidy McDonald of The Classical Academy. The two Colorado teammates ran together to make up 20-30 gap. With about 1K to go, they began to pass Stevens and were able to hold her off for the second and third positions.
GIRLS 5000 METER RUN FINALS PLACE ATHLETE TEAM RESULT POINTS 1 Taytum Goodman 10 Unattached USA 17:33.61 1 2 Hope Ahnfeldt 12 The Classical Academy 18:45.29 2 3 Cassidy McDonald 10 The Classical Academy 18:48.31 3 4 Elle Stevens 12 Colorado Springs Christian School 18:52.41 4 5 Madison Brosig 11 Frontier Academy 19:03.90 5 6 Hattie Jennings 11 Blazer Runners 19:13.52 6 7 Sofia DiPasqua 10 Blazer Runners 19:18.22 7 8 Sawyer Wilson 11 The Classical Academy 19:23.24 8 9 Sophia Valentine 12 The Classical Academy 19:28.88 9 10 Quinn Smith 11 Salida High School 19:31.55 10
The girls team race clearly belonged to Classical Academy. Running off top three finishes from Ahnfeldt and McDonald, they go additional help with Sawyer Wilson and Sophia Valentine finishing in eighth and ninth overall places.
The fifth and sixth runners would finish in 16th and 17th place to wrap up the team scoring and the team championship for Classical.