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Hartselle runners making big splash

As far as debuts go, Hartselle’s grand re-entrance into the high school cross country landscape can only be described as remarkable.
In the first meet of the season – Hartselle’s first cross country season in more than a decade – the Tigers came away with a pair of championships in the Austin 3M Trail Trails.
Talk about impressive starts to a program that has been dormant for years.
The Tigers’ boys varsity finished six points ahead of Class 6A Sparkman in the team standings.The Lady Tigers were 23 points better than Elkmont in the girls’ varsity race.
“It was very enjoyable for the kids to do that well in their first race,” said Hartselle head cross country coach Kenny Lopez. “Right now, though, we just need to keep everything in perspective. We’ve got to keep improving because we’re in such a tough sectional. We’re working toward the sectionals in November.”
The varsity boys have just six runners on the roster this season. Noah Battles is the only senior on the squad that was led in the Austin race by eighth grader Jonathan Duncan.
Other runners are Cameron Cunningham, Alex Wilt, Chad Wallwork and Tristen Mitchell.
The girls’ varsity team includes Anna Harrison, Anna Craig, Joy Harris, Cheyenne Sanchez, Haley Baker, Peyton Roberts, Savannah Morgan, Sarah Walker, Lindsey Elmore, Brittany Brown and Brooke Wilson.
Morgan, Harris and Baker all finished in the top 10 in their first prep cross country meets.
The Hartselle program was revived this year at the suggestion of principal Jeff Hyche. But there was some uncertainty entering the first race.
“I didn’t know really know what to expect,” said Lopez, a veteran road runner. “I think our kids kind of shocked some people at the Austin meet. People probably didn’t expect us to win both the boys’ and girls’ races.”
Now the team will face another big challenge this weekend in the Chickasaw Trails race that will draw several thousand runners.
But Lopez is betting that the Tigers are ready for the challenge.

Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or at