Saturday proved to be a memorable one for Southwestern cross country at the Shelby County Invitational. Not only did the Warrior boys team run stride-for-stride with the number one team in the state in the Trinity Shamrocks, but numerous Warriors had personal best times in the process.

The boy’s varsity team finished second overall right behind Trinity and ahead of Louisville’s Butler High. Because of the close finish with Trinity, the Warriors earned their highest 3A state ranking ever placing them seventh among the state’s elite cross country teams.

Six of the seven boy’s varsity team had their best ever times for 5,000-meters.

“This was the same course we ran last year, but I think the difference in the times from last year was the team’s realization that they can run with anybody, including the top team in Kentucky,” Southwestern coach Rob Belwood said.

Leading the way for Southwestern was a couple of sophomores Sabastian Rhode and Trevor Jones. Rhodes posted a time of 16:48 and finished in sixth place. One place and one second back was Jones taking seventh with a time of 16:49.

“Sabastian and Trevor now have the second and third fastest times ever run at Southwestern,” said coach Belwood. “They are chasing the school record time of 16:20 set by Josh Haynes back in 2000.”

Following close behind Rhode and Jones was senior captain Eric Denham running a 17:10 and placing 13th. Junior Jacob Belwood was next taking 20th place with a time of 17:36. Improving his best time by nearly 80 seconds was junior Chris Rink (27th place) breaking the 18 minute barrier and posting a time of 17:59.

Freshmen Seath Whiles also had a great day of running finishing in 27th place and running a personal best time by nearly a minute of 18:10. Senior Casey Dalton rounded out the boy's varsity placing 55th and running a 19:44 for 5,000-meters.

“I expected some fast times today because of the cool weather and competition, but was sort of blown away with the performances of the entire team,” Belwood said. “It just goes to show you what hard work over the summer can do. This team also wants to prove they're not afraid of anybody.”

The girl’s varsity team finished a very respectable fourth place overall. And just like the boy’s team included some personal record times. Sophomore Allison Briones led her team with a 17th place finish while running a 21:59. Sophomore Elizabeth Eaton (25th place) and junior Emily McPherson (27th place) were next at 22:35 and 22:36 respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the Lady Warriors was sophomore Hayley Denham (32nd place) with a time of 22:59 and sophomore Erica Haynes (57 place) running a 24:55.

The boy’s junior varsity team finished third right behind Trinity and Butler High and included some very good times as well. Junior Daniel Janbakhsh, making a bid for the varsity team, ran an outstanding time of 18:59 and finished in ninth place.

“Great race by Daniel, I can see him breaking 18 (minutes) this year,” Belwood said. “His time was about a 90-second improvement from last year.

Three other runners broke the 20-minute barrier for the Warriors. First-year runner David Light, a junior, ran an inspired time of 19:50. Light was followed closely by freshmen Justin Lewis (19:51) and senior Ty Uhlig (19:53).

“I don’t believe any Southwestern cross country program has ever had 11 runners break 20 minutes before,” Belwood said, “And this was the first official 5,000-meter race of the season.

Rounding the team scoring was seniors TW Sears and Brett Randolph, junior Aaron Moss, and freshmen Michael Childers.

The girl's junior varsity included three newcomers to the sport of cross country in junior Nadja Denkhaua (27:12), sophomore Brittany McKee (27:51), and junior Stephanie Merrick (29:53).

Seventh-grader Michael Tounge had one of his best races as a Warrior on Saturday taking 25th place in the boy’s middle school race, while running an 11:53 for 3000 meters. Tounge led his team to a ninth place finish. Also, scoring for the team was Aaron Denham (12:19), Preston Brainard (12:59), Austin English (13:28), and Aaron Stolze (16:37).

In the girl’s middle school race, sixth-grader Emily Belwood battled to a fifth place finish and ran an 11:43 for 3000 meters. Eight-grader Frankie Haynes was next at 12:27 and 17th place. Also, included in the scoring and helping the young Warriors finish fourth as a team was Casey Crowder (12:53), Laura Norris (13:13), and Kayla Janbakhsh (13:15). Rounding out the girl’s middle school team was Cassie Acey (14:26) and Chelsea Goff (15:36).

In the boy’s elementary race sixth-grader Jacob Jones led his team to a first place team title and ran a very impressive 6:04 for a mile while finishing second place overall. Fourth- grader Cory English finished strong in fourth place running a 6:25. Included in the scoring was Daniel Brainard (6:40), Spencer Brainard (6:40), and Jordan Carrington (6:59). Also running was Nick Turpin (7:16), Matthew Jones (7:23), Cory Workman (7:24), Zach Stolze (7:43), Zeb Denham (8:46), and Ryan Carrington (9:00).

The girl’s elementary team took fourth place and was led by fourth-grader Jill Collier (5th place) who ran a fast 6:34 for the mile race. Helping in the team scoring was Rachel Schoolcraft (7:52), Leanne Crowder (8:01), Chandra Turpin (8:06), and Sky Combs (9:07).

The next meet for the Southwestern Warriors will be on Saturday, Sept. 9, when the teams travel to Bowling Green, Ky. to take part in the Purple Strides Invitational.

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