FORT PAYNE — The youth of the Ider girls cross country team prevailed again.
Seventh-grader Makinley Traylor crossed the finish line in 20 minutes, 43 seconds to win the AHSAA Class 1A-2A girls individual state championship and help the Ider girls place third in the 1A-2A team competition of the AHSAA Cross Country State Championships at Oakville Indian Mounds Park in Oakville on Saturday.
“I was extremely proud. Most of these girls were running at state for the first time,” said Ider’s third-year head coach Dustin Bryant. “I never had any doubt about their ability to compete. They left it all on the course and as a coach that's all I can ask for.”
Traylor’s first-place finish was 12 seconds faster than state runner-up Reagan Parris of Cold Springs and 41 seconds faster than third-place finisher Brooke Crider of Cold Springs. Traylor earned all-state honors in addition to her top individual finish.
“We knew about where (Traylor) had to be to win the individual state championship,” Bryant said. “It really came down to her and one other girl. Our strategy was to run consistent with her until the last 1,000 meters. That's when we thought (Traylor) needed to separate herself and she did just that. Her maturity and mental capacity for a seventh-grade kid is unbelievable.”
After crossing the finish line, the state champion ran into the arms of her parents.
“It just shocked me that I’d just won something from the state and I didn’t know what to do,” Traylor told The Times-Journal during a phone interview Monday afternoon.
Seventh-grader Kennzie Smith (23:05) was Ider’s second finisher in 24th place and sophomore Lexi Brewer (23:42) finished third for the team in 37th.
“I was very proud and glad that our hard work had paid off,” said Brewer, who has been a member of Ider’s cross country program since its inception three years ago.
Cold Springs placed as the top team in 1A-2A girls and Hatton was the state runner-up.
Though the course at Oakville has a few short-distance hills, the biggest challenge for runners are the many switchbacks which force a change of pace.
“Once you get out of those [switchbacks], you’re right back into your same pace,” Brewer said.
Ider relied heavily on the strength of its young nucleus of runner this season. The girls team fielded five seventh-graders (Kennzie Smith, Makinley Traylor, Brynley Traylor, Emma Hayes and Madilyn Johnson), an eighth-grader (Maleah Smith), a freshman (Aubree Chapman) and a sophomore (Brewer). Junior Everett King was Ider’s lone male runner to qualify for the state competition; he finished 58th overall (19:59) Saturday.
The Ider girls won the 1A-2A, Section 4 championship in Huntsville on Nov. 5; Makinley Traylor was the top individual finisher (20:55). The girls had a third-place finish in the 1A-3A race in the Wildcat Fall Classic at White Plains on Oct. 17, a second-place finish in Scottsboro’s Black and Gold Classic on Aug. 29, and winning finishes in the Jackson/DeKalb County Meet in Pisgah on Oct. 8, the Scottsboro Invitational on Sept. 26 and the Pisgah Invitational on Sept. 5.
Editor’s note: A story on Ider's state cross country champion Makinley Traylor will be featured in Saturday’s edition of The Times-Journal.