COVINGTON - Following up their first-place finish a week earlier at the Alcovy Last Chance Invitational, Alcovy's cross country squads placed second Saturday in the Region 4-AAAA meet.
As a result, they are heading to the state meet Nov. 8 in Carrollton. It was a first time in Alcovy's three-year history that the cross country teams have qualified for state.
"I'm very excited," Alcovy cross country coach Scott Murphy said. "Next weekend, as young and inexperienced as our teams are, really the goal is to go after personal records. If they can do that in a race that big, then it's going to be a success."
In the girls race, Ola took top honors with a score of 23 points. Alcovy finished second with 44, Forest Park claimed third (82) and Dutchtown was fourth (93).
Ola's Emily Kanniard placed first with a time of 22 minutes, 5 seconds.
Alcovy's Tatlin Gammon finished fourth overall in 23:28.
"I just want a personal record (at state)," Gammon said. "I just hope I do what I have to do."
So far, so good.
Compared to last weekend, when Gammon finished first overall at the Alcovy Last Chance Invitational in 22:52, the region meet proved more difficult based on the drop in temperature.
"She's come along really well," Murphy said. "She didn't even run the fastest she has on this course. I think the cold probably affected her a little bit, but she's hungry. She realizes that she's got some talent, and her work ethic has turned around 180 degrees from last year.
"She works hard, she likes being the fastest and she likes beating people. I think next week we'll see her go after a big personal record at the Carrollton course, which is faster than ours."
Alcovy's Makiala Houseworth took eighth overall (24:52). Team captain Brianna Pace finished 11th for the Lady Tigers with a time of 25:44.
"She had about a 16-second personal record, which on this course is saying something," Murphy praised of Pace's performance.
Rounding out the top five for Alcovy were Rochelle McNally (15th, 27:16) and Brittany Woodruff (20th, 28:09).
For the boys, Ola also tallied 23 points. Alcovy and Stockbridge tied with 59 points, but the Tigers took second with a better finish from their No. 6 finisher, Felipe Saldana, who placed 22nd in 20:32. Forest Park was fourth with 118.
Ola's Justin Irvin won in a course-record 17:33.
Alcovy's Vincent Bond finished sixth overall (18:44). Teammate Damontae Ivey placed seventh with a mark of 18:50.
"It was a little hard going up the hills, but our coach motivated us a bunch, so it really wasn't nothing," Ivey said. "We practice on the course every day, work hard and go home, come back to school the next day and do it again."
Dakota Papke (13th, 19:54), Joshua Holcombe (16th, 20:03) and Jay deRojas (17th, 20:03) rounded out the top finishers for the Tigers.
Jason Murdock can be reached at email@example.com.