Cross country prepares for final sprint


The 2021 team celebrates after last year’s state meet (photo by Josh Donaldson).

Marin Poleshek, Managing Editor

As fall sports wind down, cross country is ramping up for their biggest meet of the season: state championships.

Both the girls’ and boys’ teams qualified for the state meet last Thursday, Oct. 27, each placing second in Section 4 of the 6A classification.

For head coach Josh Donaldson, these results were celebrated but not unexpected. Homewood cross country has a tradition of training hard and competing well, as highlighted by their 12 total state championships. The legacy has the potential to continue this year, with both the girls’ and boys’ teams coming off promising regular seasons. 

In Donaldson’s opinion, both teams have “stepped up to the plate” this fall. He highlights the girls’ team performance at the Sectional meet especially, claiming that it “showed what they are capable of.”

Andrew Laird and Emma Brooke Levering pose with their medals after the 2021 championship (photo by Josh Donaldson).

Sophomore Emma Brooke Levering has a particularly strong position coming into this year’s state championships. A standout since middle school, this will be Levering’s third time racing at the meet.

“I’ve really improved a lot this season,” she said, nodding to the multiple personal records she has set and broken over the past few weeks. 

As members of the 6A division, which is known for its running depth, competition is bound to be fierce. Levering notes Mountain Brook and McGill Toolen specifically as teams the Homewood girls are watching out for.

Despite her competition, Levering is determined to stay focused, claiming that “staying healthy” is her primary goal. 

“We’ve been working toward something great,” she said. “It’s pretty cool to be here for a third time.”

Seniors Andrew Laird and Grayton Murray are also poised for success, having both competed on the varsity level all four years of high school. A recent commit to Samford University, Murray’s expectations for his last state race are high. Not only is he hoping for an impressive individual performance, but is aiming for a team trophy as well.

“We simply want to bring another championship home,” he says. “For me, nothing is more important than the team.”

The boys’ team warms up before the 2021 state race (photo by Josh Donaldson).

After months of logging countless miles, there is no questioning that Homewood’s runners are prepared for this monumental weekend. Results aside, Donaldson expresses that his ultimate goal is for both teams to “race with no regrets.”

“I’m proud of them before the race, and I’m proud of them after,” he says. “If they can cross the line and tell me they gave everything they had, that’s all I can ask for.”

Both teams will compete Saturday morning at the Oakville Indian Mounds course in Oakville, Ala. The boys are scheduled to race at 10:50 a.m. and the girls at 11:50 a.m.