ABS brings home 3rd place in Oakville
By Ashley Hargrove
OAKVILLE — Athens Bible School cross country coach Bill Murrell has been to his fair share of state cross country meets during the years.
He has had four teams win state championships and four others finish second. On Saturday, the boys team managed a third-place finish in Class 1A-2A, which pleased Murrell, although he had hoped his team would place higher. Hatton finished fourth. and Decatur Heritage was sixth.
“It just wasn’t meant to be,” said Murrell, who began his coaching career in 1970. “It hurts not to be able to take home a (first- or second-place) trophy today, but we are going to take this experience and build on it for next season.”
During Saturday’s meet, Colby Phillips, Cliff Denton and Tyler Claxton all set personal records for ABS. Phillips placed fourth in 17 minutes, 6.52 seconds. Denton was 16th in 17:56.90, and Claxton placed 24th in 18:25.17. Those were the Trojans’ top three finishers. The ABS girls placed seventh as Chelsea Burgess finished 21st individually.
It all added up to another good fall for the ABS cross country program.
“Having dedication from the kids and families is important to any program’s success,” Murrell said. “And part of being successful goes back to those students who have the desire to come out and work hard.”
And along with dedication, Murrell mentioned school support as well.
“The school support is just tremendous,” Murrell added. “It was just a couple of weeks ago that everyone was in Pelham cheering on the volleyball team, and now today half of the volleyball team is here. The kids really support each other.”
Throughout his coaching days, Murrell has had the opportunity to coach many of his former players’ children, and to him that is satisfying. He also has coached his son, Brad Murrell, who has returned to the school as a teacher and a coach.
Bill Murrell said it helps his program that his athletes are well-grounded.
“God is the No. 1 priority,” he said. “Family is second, education is third and sports is fourth. These kids here today have their priorities straight.”
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