The Fort Payne girls cross country team showed its still a running force in Alabama.
Maggie Crow finished fourth overall, clocking in at 19:20.98 to lead the Wildcats’ charge in a runner-up finish in Class 6A at the AHSAA state cross country championships in Oakville on Saturday.
Fort Payne’s Anahi Barboza (19:48.48) finished 10th, Maddie Jackson (19:48.69) was 11th and Aylin Vega (19:58.10) placed 13th. Crow, Barboza, Jackson and Vega were named to the all-state team.
“Unlike in the past couple of years, we were seated third going into the state meet,” coach Ashley Jackson said. “After we beat Cullman at sectionals, I told the girls that we had a target on our backs and Cullman and (St. Paul’s Episcopal) were coming after us.
“The girls knew they had to have a good race in order to be one of the top teams. And they did just that.”
The Fort Payne girls finished as state runners-up for the second year in a row. They have placed third or higher at the state meet over the past five years, winning the championship in 2017.
Crow was the top-placer for the Wildcats at the Oakville Indian Mounds cross country course after finishing as the top runner at the sectional meet.
“Maggie had a goal in mind going into the meet Saturday,” Jackson said. “She told me she was aiming for fifth place and wanted her time to be around 19:25. Once the race started she never looked back and finish fourth…"
Crow’s 19:20.98 finishing time was a second off the school record, Jackson said.
Homewood won the state title and St. Paul’s placed third. Cullman finished fourth and Spanish Fort was fifth.
On the boys’ side, Ben Anderson was Fort Payne’s top-placer at 10th, clocking in at 16:19.30. Anderson was seated 13th and became the first Fort Payne boy to make the all-state team since 2011.
Jackson said Anderson just wanted to know his place throughout the race and wasn’t concerned about his time.
“Every point on the course I was at, he remained in the top 15,” she said.
The Wildcats finished eighth. Arturo Rodriguez was the Fort Payne boys’ second finisher in 26th (17:16.33).
The Fort Payne boys finished third behind Albertville by a 1-point margin at the sectional meet.
“They were so disappointed and had a goal coming into the state meet to beat (Albertville),” Jackson said. “They accomplished that goal and beat them by over 130 points. They all ran their best races to make this happen.”