Horseshoe Bend cross country

Submitted / The Outlook Horseshoe Bend's cross country team poses for a photo at the Volunteer Spirit Classic Sept. 11.

The AHSAA hosted each of its 24 sectional boys and girls cross country meets Thursday morning, and Benjamin Russell, Horseshoe Bend and Dadeville all competed for hardware and advancement to next weekend’s state championship meet.

While none of those schools qualified a boys or girls team for the state meet, 11 total runners advanced as individuals from the area schools.

Horseshoe Bend turned in arguably the best results, with the best individual finish from any area runner on both the boys and girls side coming from eighth grader David Layfield and sophomore Rebecca Rasbury, respectively.

“It was pretty loud over on the Horseshoe Bend side of the field yesterday,” Horseshoe Bend coach Emily Rasbury said Friday.

Layfield has been a 4-foot-8 dynamo for both Horseshoe Bend’s cross country and football teams this fall, serving as an accurate kicker for the latter to go alongside his cross country exploits.

Thursday he recorded the only sub-19 minute time from either the Wildcats’, Tigers’ or Generals’ teams, with a mark of 18 minutes 27.73 seconds placing him seventh of 71 runners.

“David is our top runner, and as a seventh grader last year, he would have qualified, but he was quarantined,” Rasbury said. “So this was his first experience at sectionals. And because he didn’t make sectionals last year, he couldn’t go to state. So we were super excited that he got to go.”

Rebecca Rasbury landed 12th out of 64 runners in Class 1A/2A Section 1 girls, qualifying for the state meet.

She clocked in at a time of 23:26.30.

Lane Costley picked up a 12th-place finish on the boys side as well and Heaton Scheler’s 29th-place effort gave the Generals three boys state qualifiers Thursday.

Seventh grader Maddie Smith captured the final qualifying spot in her sectional for Horseshoe Bend, coming in 26th with a time of 25:07.87. Cami Cook finished 10 seconds behind her in 27th.

“They called from the bottom to the top and they called girls first. So when they called Horseshoe Bend, I thought ‘Okay, Becca got in,’” Emily Rasbury said. “And it was Maddie. She’s a seventh grader. We went, ‘Oh my gosh,’ we went wild. We were probably louder than the first-place team because that one just came out of nowhere.”

As a girls team the Generals finished fifth with 138 points, 56 behind fourth place and a team qualifying spot for state. The boys came in with a similar result, at 132 points in fifth place 29 points behind fourth.

Two boys and two girls qualified from Benjamin Russell’s cross country team.

Senior Haley Walker recorded the best finish of any of the Wildcats’ runners, placing 28th of 35 competitors on the girls side with a time of 33:46.13. Freshman Ansley Floyd followed closely behind her in 29th at 34:40.86, and both will move on to the state meet.

Freshman Thomas Carver turned in the top boys time for Benjamin Russell at 23:43.30 to grab 33rd place out of 45 runners and qualify for state alongside sophomore Mark Butcher. Butcher took 36th at 25:17.21.

Dadeville may not have brought a girls team to its sectional but it had two of its three boys qualify for the championship race. Senior Ziy McCowan placed 33rd with a time of 21:58.22 while sophomore Emmanuel Pearson took the section’s final qualifying spot in 41st at 24:14.37.

All qualifying runners will compete at the Alabama state cross country championships in Oakville Nov. 6.

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