Cross Country has big day at Bearcat Invitational

Published 2:29 pm Wednesday, October 12, 2022

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The Bearcat Invitational on Saturday welcomed over 130 cross country runners to Bainbridge as BHS hosted the annual meet. Bainbridge representation was seen from both Bainbridge High School and Grace Christian Academy both had runners that placed and saw personal best days. 

GCA freshman Walker Elrod continued his season of dominance as he took home first place among all runners with a time of 17:20, which was ten seconds above the second place finisher. BHS runners Jahlae Sapp and Caden Godwin also were the top runners for the Bearcats as they saw top fifteen finishes, in a race that had over 130 runners. 

Being able to compete at home in front of family, friends, and local Bainbridge supporters is an opportunity that the runners cherished and instilled confidence within them as they wanted to show their community their skillset. 

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The Bearcat XC race is probably the most anticipated race all season,” said GCA assistant coach Lauren Braswell. “Racing in our hometown, there’s such a comforting feeling knowing the kids are surrounded by family and friends, and being on their hometown trails provides an extra sense of reassurance.”

The Bainbridge success was seen all across the board as BHS runners Gambler Dollar and Malcolm Spann saw top 50 finishes along with GCA sophomore Owen Earnest. 

One impressive performance of the weekend was the performance of the middle school runners. Going into the season, the middle school runners had little to no experience in competitive running and the runners are seeing improvement each week. 

At the Bearcat invitational, GCA seventh grader Henry Lee and sixth grader Perry Glenn both finished in the top ten among middle school boys. 

GCA head coach Elizabeth Simmons is especially proud of the determination and hard work her runners have put in since the beginning of the season and is full of excitement seeing her runners’ hard work come to a reality on Saturday’s. 

“Henry Lee started running last year as a 6th grader and had a great beginning,” said Simmons. “He is always a runner that comes ready to push himself and often runs with the HS runners for a better challenge.Perry Glenn has been an awesome addition to the team. He has been a soccer player so running was a natural fit for him. He has really seen some great improvement and is fun to coach. Both boys had great runs at State and we are so proud of the work they put in.”

Most importantly, the coaches are extremely proud of the way that both the BHS and GCA teams rallied and supported each other as one Bainbridge community. Coach Braswell especially emphasized the importance of teammates actively cheering each other on throughout the race and to the finish line. 

“Cross country is a sport where everybody cheers all the athletes through to the finish line,” said Braswell. “The individual athlete runs his/her own race, but the team is always there to cheer each athlete through. You never know which team member you may find at each mile marker cheering on those running each race, but you can bet there will always be a familiar face at various locations on every race course.”