This fall, the Heritage cross country teams had an interesting mix of experienced runners and promising young talent.
Nothing illustrates that better than the Citizen's 2008 All-Area Cross Country Team, which is dominated by the Patriots and Lady Patriots.
Heritage senior Jake Hudson is the Boys Runner of the Year after producing one of the best individual seasons in school history. Heritage freshman Simone Worthy is the Girls Runner of the Year after developing into the Lady Patriots' best runner this fall.
The Coach of the Year is Heritage's Brian Smith, who for the 11th straight year guided his squads to the state meet. This year, the Heritage boys recorded their highest finish ever in the state meet by placing fourth in the Class AAAA meet. The Heritage boys also captured their first region title in school history. All told, the Patriots had a record of 125-10 this season and claimed championships at six of the eight events on their schedule.
The Heritage girls were a different challenge this season for Smith. With a young lineup, Smith guided the Lady Patriots to a 12th-place finish at state and a fourth-place finish in Region 8-AAAA.
Both Heritage teams continued their streaks in the NewRock Meet, claiming the titles for the 11th straight year.
Jake Hudson (Senior, Heritage): Hudson set the tone all season for the Patriots, posting the second-fastest 5K in school history at 16 minutes, 57 seconds. He finished 10th overall in the Class AAAA state meet (16:58.92). The senior won the Region 8-AAAA individual boys title (17:28.60) and the NewRock individual boys championship (17:17). Hudson finished 10th or better in every race he ran this season.
Darius Calhoun (Sophomore, Heritage): Calhoun recorded the fastest sophomore 5K time in Patriots' history at 17:17. He finished 19th in the Class AAAA state meet (17:17.53). He was the runner-up in the Region 8-AAAA meet (17:35.16) and the NewRock meet (17:49).
Brandon Harrison (Freshman, Heritage): Harrison was one of several young runners to make a big impact this year for the Patriots, setting the school freshman 5K record at 17:19. He finished 20th in the Class AAAA state meet (17:19.19). The freshman was third in the Region 8-AAAA meet (17:37.15) and third in the NewRock meet (17:50).
Aaron Worthy (Junior, Heritage): Worthy turned in a strong junior season for the Patriots, finishing 26th in the Class AAAA state meet (17:27.65). He also placed fourth in the Region 8-AAAA meet (17:41.78) and fourth in the NewRock meet (17:55).
Sam Johnson (Sophomore, Eastside): Johnson made a big splash in his first season with the Eagles, breaking the school record with a time of 17:49.42. He finished seventh in the Region 8-AAA meet (18:04.06) and placed fifth in the NewRock meet (18:11).
Raymond Menefee (Senior, Newton): Menefee posted a personal record of 17:47 with a sixth-place finish for the Rams in the red division at the Aubrae Gunderson Invitational. The senior finished sixth in the NewRock meet (18:22) and eighth in the Region 2-AAAAA meet (18:13).
Ace Cook (Sophomore, Eastside): Cook posted a top-10 finish in eighth with a time of 18:12.46 in the Blue Division at the Gunderson Invitational. He also finished ninth in the Region 8-AAA meet (18:12.69) and seventh at the NewRock meet (18:39).
Simone Worthy (Freshman, Heritage): Worthy served notice of her talent by claiming the individual girls title at the NewRock meet in 22:06. She produced her best time of the season - 21:17.23 - at the Class AAAA state meet to finish 25th overall. It was the fifth-fastest freshman time in Heritage school history. She placed 11th in the Region 8-AAAA meet (22:30) and fifth in her division at the Gunderson Invitational (21:58.35).
Shannon Christian (Junior, Salem): Christian recorded the top local finish in 10th at the Region 8-AAAA meet with a time of 22:25. She posted her best time of the season - 22:00 - at the Coach Wood Invitational. The junior finished sixth in her race at the Gunderson Invitational (22:07.57).
Ameryst Armstead (Senior, Newton): Armstead produced her best effort of the season in the Gunderson Invitational, finishing third in the red division at 21:30.80, beating both Worthy and Christian. She was also the girls runner-up at the NewRock meet (23:28).
Lena Killingsworth (Freshman, Heritage): Killingsworth was another standout freshman for the Lady Patriots, posting her best time of the season in the Class AAAA state meet (22:00.30). She was also fourth at the NewRock meet (24:09) and 17th in the Region 8-AAAA meet (22:52.70).
Sarah Hayward (Senior, Heritage): Hayward was the leader of the young Lady Patriots' squad. She finished third in the NewRock meet (24:05), 19th in Region 8-AAAA (23:22.70) and 82nd at the Class AAAA state meet (22:37.90)
Tatlin Gammon (Senior, Alcovy): Gammon showed steady improvement all season for the Lady Tigers, setting the school record with a time of 22:37.59. She finished fourth in the Region 4-AAAA meet (23:28.78) and 84th in the Class AAAA state meet (22:44.94).
Jamara Dye (Freshman, Heritage): Dye was another freshman that blossomed at the state meet for the Lady Patriots, posting her best time of the season at 23:05.07 to crack the top 100 in 94th. She also finished 18th in the Region 8-AAAA meet (23:16.89).
Jeff Gillespie can be reached at email@example.com.