Cougar runners take top spots at Bearcat Invitational

Published 6:38 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

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Grace Christian Academy Freshman Tatiana Smith and Sophomore Walker Elrod finished first in the women’s and men’s varsity events at the Bearcat Invitational hosted by Bainbridge High School.

Two levels of size classification separate Grace Christian Academy from Bainbridge High School. Cougars head coach Heather Smith said seeing her “small school” runners compete well at the largest school in town was a cool feeling.

“To come in with individual titles was nice,” Smith said.

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Elrod finished with a time of 16:35.20, and Smith finished with a time of 22:03.10.

For Bainbridge, Enajiya Marcus had a standout performance. She dropped her PR by over a minute on a course Bearcats assistant coach Alison Wells said isn’t “PR friendly.”

“She shocked everybody,” Wells said. “It was really great to see.” 

The invitational was held on BHS’s brand-new course. Bearcats middle school cross country coach BJ Johns led the new course project and said he spent hours scouring Google Maps to find the best way to redirect the course. 

“I channeled my inner nerd,” Johns said. “I got on my Macbook and pulled up a current— or as current as you can get Google Maps satellite shot and literally sat there and zoomed in and found stuff.” 

Johns said the course wouldn’t have been possible without help from the BHS maintenance team. 

“They were amazing,” Johns said. 

The new course is a variation of the old one. The team was forced to alter their course due to the construction of the new middle school that part of the old course ran through. Johns said one of his favorite things about the new course is its varied terrain.

“We have flat course, we have wet course, we have slick course, we have rock running,” Johns said.