Dunn second in state cross country
Decatur girls finish fourth, and Lawrence teams take seconds
By Michael Wetzel
DAILY Assistant Sports Editor
OAKVILLE — Jennifer Dunn isn't ashamed of second, but is disappointed.
The Austin High junior was the favorite to win the Class 6A girls cross country meet at the Oakville Indian Mounds on Saturday. But after a long-legged freshman from Sparkman High passed her in the final 600 yards to win the state title, Dunn will have to wait another year for her chance.
"I felt good, like I could run more, but I didn't have the speed at the finish," said a disappointed Dunn, whose time of 18 minutes, 14 seconds was only about eight seconds slower than the winning time of Katie Huston.
"I need to work on getting more speed finishing," Dunn added.
Huston, who outran Dunn in last week's sectionals also, said her coach, Charlie Gover, told her all year if she wanted to be the best she would have to beat Dunn.
"Jennifer was the best in the state," said Gover, who formerly coached at Danville High. "For a ninth-grader to beat Dunn, that is doing something special. Dunn just doesn't lose.
"Jennifer is great, and she's been on our radar screen since Day 1 this fall. When Katie beat her in the sectionals last week, I thought then maybe Katie was the girl to beat."
The 5-foot-10 Huston said the cold and blustery day may have helped her.
"I'd rather run in the cold instead of the heat," the 14-year-old said. "I was able to pass Jennifer about the 2-mile mark, and Jennifer passed me back. But I ran by her at about 600 yards from the finish and expected her to challenge. ... I just ran my race today."
Her father, Bill Huston, who played football at the University of Toledo, gave his daughter a little incentive, she said.
"My dad told me I only had one chance to win it as a freshman," she said. "I got it done."
Saturday marked Dunn's fourth straight top-six finish at the state cross country meet. Including the state indoor and state outdoor
championships, she now has finished in the top three 12 times.
In the 5A girls race, Decatur's girls placed fourth as a team and put three runners in the top 13 of the individual standings — ninth-grader Sally Adams in seventh place, senior Mary Elaine Williamson in 12th and junior Meg Adams in 13th.
The Decatur boys placed eighth, while senior Laurance Thompson paced the Red Raiders individually by finishing 22nd.
In the 6A boys race, Mountain Brook sophomore Bill Matthews continues to own the
The defending champion posted a winning 5-kilometer time of 15:48 — four seconds faster than his winning time in 2005. He said he was shooting for 15:30.
"It was cold today and 15:30 wasn't going to happen when it is this cold," he said at the awards ceremony. "It's always a tough field here, and I was glad to win."
In the Class 3A-4A competition, Lawrence County's Logan Underwood finished fourth.
"I was hoping for a better finish," said the junior, who ran the race in 17:06 time. "But fourth is fine. I started a little slow, but picked up the pace. The weather didn't bother me. The colder it is, the better I like it."
Lawrence County's boys and girls each brought home second-place finishes. Randolph won the boys crown, while Montgomery Academy took the girls trophy.
"I'm very, very pleased with our teams today," Red Devils cross country coach Stanley Johnson said while helping the Jesse Owens Runners Club disassemble the track hardware.
"I know Montgomery Academy's girls were the heavy favorites, but my girls had a shot, and my boys ran the best they could for that second. Anytime your teams finish in the top two in the state, you know your kids are working hard."
Underwood agreed, adding, "We're happy with our seconds. But if it wasn't for Coach Johnson, none of us would be here today. He's meant so much to the program."
State meet co-director DeWayne Key said the cold and windy weather was probably tougher on the fans than the runners.
"It was actually a good day for the runners," Key said. "There were a couple of places on the course where the runners had to use some caution because of the overnight rain, but overall, I thought things came off without a hitch."
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