McKenzie claims fifth AISA title


Girls begin the course at the AISA Cross Country Championships on Thursday. Anna McKenzie (1298) won her fifth straight title. (Photo by Michelle Lepianka Carter )


TUSCALOOSA | Anna McKenzie felt like she struggled during Thursday’s race, but she posted a personal best while winning another championship.

McKenzie, a junior at Tuscaloosa Academy, won her fifth consecutive individual title in the AISA Cross Country Championships at Sokol Park. The Lady Knights finished with 32 points and won the team title. Tuscaloosa Academy coach Riley Matheson filled out the lineup with eighth-graders Charlotte Anguiano, Julia Schanz and Marianna Block and seventh-grader Isabelle Nolan. Eastwood Christian of Montgomery was second with 39. Lee-Scott Academy of Auburn was third with 49.

McKenzie finished the 5-kilometer course in 18:26.99. Anguiano was second in 20:09.11.

"When it’s a state championship, everybody gets kind of nervous, and I get more nervous," McKenzie said. "I started off strong like I wanted to. My pace, I tried keeping it strong but I faded a little.

"The struggle is always the last mile. It felt nice running the race. Once you get into it, you have your second wind, but you start feeling the pain and it becomes more of a struggle. I felt relief that it was over, joy that I won. Our girls did very well as a team. I’m proud of them too."

Anguiano had placed second in the AISA junior varsity meet in Montgomery.

"I’m very tired, but I feel good about myself," she said. "I didn’t think I would be able to do very well in the varsity today, but I did better than I thought.

"Anna just kind of took off, and I think I was third for a while. In the end, I tried to pass the girl that was second and I got second. I heard Anna’s name being called that she won. I was happy for her."

Eastwood Christian’s Rebekah Johnson was third (20:30.87), followed by teammate Anna Kometer (21:32.23). Schanz rounded out the top five with a time of 2:41.56. Nolan finished in 11th place (24:15.11). Block was 15th (25:32.95).

"When I first told the junior varsity girls they were going to have to run, it was because we didn’t have any high-schoolers to take their place," Matheson said. "They all pretty much agreed without hesitation. I’m just very pleased with their commitment and their training.

"Charlotte is really just getting started, I think. She’ll definitely be a state champion, if not next year in the years to come."

Pickens Academy’s Marianna Pratt was seventh, Makenna Nickoles 17th and Madison Acker 20th.

Eastwood Christian senior Joel Johnson was the individual winner in the boys competition.

"It felt great," Johnson said. "I just stayed back and tried to pace myself, and it ended up being really close at the end. I guess I was able to pull it out, but it was real close."

Brackin Stewart of Lee-Scott Academy was second, followed by Sam Hodge of Eastwood Christian, Dalton Williams of Lee-Scott Academy and Robey Smalley of Tuscaloosa Academy.

"Robey Smalley has just recently gotten into the sport," Matheson said. "He’s mainly a baseball player, but he decided to come out this year. I’m really glad and grateful that he did. He’s just an all-around good runner. He’ll do even better next year.

Eastwood Christian won the team title with 32 points. Lee-Scott Academy was second with 33. Tuscaloosa Academy was third with 57 points. Pickens Academy was fourth with 112.

Tuscaloosa Academy’s Terence Maybaum was 11th, Bannock Farrens 12th, Jack McKenzie 16th, Charles Michael DeVenney 17th, Conrad Smalley 21st and Wilson Standeffer 28th.

Pickens Academy was represented by Lee Acker (24th), Austin Goodman (25th), Grant McCrary (26th), Hugh Cameron (29th), Travis Dean (30th), Lane Goodman (31st) and Daniel Cameron (32nd).

 

Reach Andrew Carroll at andrew.carroll@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.