But senior Brittany Truitt, the Lady Cougars’ No. 1 runner, said afterward she and her teammates weren’t taking anything for granted.
That turned out to be a pretty smart mindset, especially given the hard-fought nature of the boys’ race. Still, at the end of the day, Alexander’s cross country teams got to enjoy the sweet sound of being called “Region Champs.”
Truitt won a sprint to the finish line with LaGrange’s Sarah Bearden to claim her first region cross country title while leading the Lady Cougars to an easy win in the girls’ race. Alexander’s girls finished with 24 team points for their first region championship since 1999. Columbus was a distant second with 72 points and Carrollton was third with 78 points.
Broc DuCharme finished third in the boys’ race with a run of 16:10.09, topping his previous personal record by nearly 18 seconds to lead Alexander’s boys as they eked out their first region title since 2008. The Cougars finished with 54 team points to best second place Sandy Creek (59) and third place LaGrange (63).
Truitt came in trying to break 19 minutes and she came oh so close. Her winning time Thursday was 19:00.16, a good 16 seconds better than her previous best 5K-time.
Bearden, who took second with a 19:03.56, never let up from start to finish.
“I could hear her the whole time behind me,” Truitt said. “And people kept on yelling, ‘She’s 10 meters.’ She caught me at the top of the hill and it was a footrace from there.
“She almost got me and I was just like, this is my senior year, I’m not letting anybody take it from me.”
Chloe Camp finished third overall for the Lady Cougars with a 19:42.46, Oumie Mbye finished fourth at 20:06.58, Amber Jent was sixth (20:25.28), Anna Scasny was 11th (21:13.51), Noelle Welch took 20th (22:03.88) and Haley Johnson finished 23rd (22:16.88) for Alexander’s girls.
“The girls put five in the top 11,” Alexander coach Brian Robinson said. “That’s pretty good.
Shaw’s Hakeem Mustafaa ran away with the boys’ race, finishing in 15:32.17, a good 34 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
DuCharme came in with a goal of finishing behind Mustafaa, but LaGrange’s Sam Bowie brought his ‘A-game’ to the meet, beating his previous 5K PR by 42 seconds to take second with a run of 16:06.22.
DuCharme kept pace with Bowie for most of the race, catching him as they approached the second lap, only to watch Bowie pull away in the last 400 meters.
“I was shooting for second, but that guy came out of nowhere,” DuCharme said. “It was still a really good race for me overall.”
Jacob King finished eighth overall for Alexander with a run of 17:01.97 and teammate Michael Scasny was right behind him in ninth with a 17:03.28.
Cantrell Jackson (16th, 17:17.30), Lance Smith (18th, 17:18.61), Jordan Howell (21st, 17:23.06) and Tyler White (35th, 18:36.46) rounded out the top seven runners for Alexander.
The Cougars now turn their focus to the GHSA State Cross Country Championships Nov. 10 in Carrollton. Alexander’s boys and girls are both ranked third in Class AAAA. A top-four team finish would get them to the podium at the state meet. Truitt, Camp and DuCharme all have the potential to medal individually with a top-10 finish at state.