Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun
By Timothy Threadcraft
ALBANY — Robert Cross Middle School successfully hosted the 31st annual Westover Invitational cross country meet Saturday morning.
One of the oldest tracks in the state, the picturesque setting holds a special place in many runners’ hearts, as well as Westover athletic director Harley Calhoun.
“We try to put on a class event, we want everybody to see that Westover High School does a great job with the activities we organize,” Calhoun said. “This is one of the best courses in the state, it’s a fast course, and a lot of people come here to get that personal record. If you’re going through a slump, this is a place you can come break out of that.”
Area schools included Albany, Monroe, Westover, Worth County, Bainbridge, Baconton Charter, Americus-Sumter, and Lee County.
Smith’s Station of Alabama won the boys’ team 5,000 meters with a total time of 1:22:13. Daniel Broadhead of Wayne County won the individual boys’ 5,000 meter with a time of 15:19.
Bainbridge’s Chase Harris was the top local runner with an eighth-place finish, while Westover senior Josh Mason rounded out the Top 10 with a time of 16:12.
He and the Patriots finished seventh overall in team standings.
This year marked the return of Westover’s Ericka Taylor to the girls’ 5,000 meters, the 2010 class AAA champion who missed last year due to injury.
Taylor ran a 19:05, placing fifth in the girls’ meet, but she wasn’t exactly satisfied.
“I think I did pretty good, but I was trying to beat my personal record,” Taylor said. “It was close enough, I guess, but I wanted to beat it. Throughout the whole race, I felt good. At the end, I had a little side cramp or whatever, but I had to fight through it.”
Calhoun is used to seeing his prized runner battle through anything.
“Ericka is a very motivated person within herself,” Calhoun said. “When you have athletes like that, you don’t have to do a lot of motivating as a coach. This is her last meet and she wanted to do exceptionally well, and I’m proud of her.”
Lowndes County’s Megan Charbeneau finished first with a time of 18:36, the best of the Vikings’ first-place finish.
The Patriots finished ninth with a total time of 1:48:29. Thomas County Central and Lee County finished 12th and 14th, respectively.
Other Southwest Georgia boys finishing in the Top 100 were: Bainbridge’s Chase Harris (8th), Baconton Charter’s Bryton Wenzel (15th), Worth County’s Dale Pate (16th), Westover’s Jack Plowden (27th), Westover’s Clay Sheffield (72nd), Westover’s Gyasi Young (73rd), Americus-Sumter’s Carl Johnson (77th), Bainbridge’s Bennett Enfinger (78th), Westover’s Tevin Mack (89th) and Worth County’s William Dorough (94th).
Other Southwest Georgia girls finishing in the Top 100 were: Bainbridge’s Paige Braswell (22nd), Lee County’s Suzanne Wynn (50th), Westover’s Toiannah Campbell (51st), Westover’s Kelsey Ewald (65th), Westover’s Chiarra Palazzolo (80th), Lee County’s Rachael Nagy (81st) and Lee County’s Tamia Mills (84th).