Double trouble, cross country teams place second in state


The girls’ and boys’ state teams pose with their runner-up trophies (photo by Josh Donaldson).

Marin Poleshek, Managing Editor

Early Saturday morning, the Homewood cross country team traveled to Oakville to compete in the AHSAA State Championships. In spite of unfavorable weather conditions, both the girls’ and boys’ teams rallied to place second in the 6A division.

This is the 12th consecutive year that both the girls’ and boys’ teams have qualified for the meet, an impressive feat considering the depth of Alabama running. The reclassification of schools in 2020 further highlights this achievement, seeing as it moved many competitive teams into the 6A area.

For head coach Josh Donaldson, the results of Saturday’s race showcased the fortitude of Homewood’s runners. Though he notes that “the rain put a damper on a couple things,” he claims that both teams “stepped up to the challenge.”

“I knew it wasn’t going to be a day for great times,” he recalls. “It was how they were competing with those around them that showed a lot of drive and perseverance.”

Twin brothers Grayton and Ben Murray battle for position in the 6A boys race (photo by Josh Donaldson).

And persevere they did. In addition to placing runner-up on both sides, Homewood also had five runners receive individual All-State honors. For the boys, seniors Grayton Murray, Ben Murray and Andrew Laird placed 6th, 7th and 11th, respectively. For the girls, sophomore Emma Brooke Levering led the pack at 3rd followed by senior Sydney Dobbins at 10th. 

For Dobbins, this final race was bittersweet. A four-year varsity runner, she has raced the Oakville course more times than she can remember.

“It’s so comfortable to me,” she says, “I don’t love it, because it’s hard, but I’ve run it twice a year since seventh grade.”

While Dobbins isn’t planning to run collegiately, she is ending her cross country experience on a positive note.

“It feels good to be done,” she remarks. “Placing second was great.”

The girls’ team gathers together before their race (photo by Frances Patrick).

For others, though, cross country carries on. While the state championship concludes the regular season, a few of Homewood’s runners will compete in national races over the next few weeks.

Among this group are Camille Etheridge and Emma Brooke Levering, who are both signed up to run the Garmin RunningLane Cross Country Championships on December 3rd. Although races like these require runners to train beyond their teammates, they provide opportunities for athletes to continue chasing faster times.

“I’m excited to hopefully meet a goal I’ve been looking forward to,” Etheridge says. 

Whether Homewood’s distance runners are sticking to the cross country course or transitioning to the track, there is no doubt they have achieved the fruits of their labor this season.

“Both teams knew what they needed to do in order to have success,” Donaldson says. “To come together as a team as runner-up was huge.”