St. Al’s Edwards wins MAIS Class 5A cross country championship

Published 5:52 pm Monday, October 25, 2021

CLINTON — All season long, Samantha Edwards and Hendrix Eldridge have been at the front of the pack on the MAIS cross country circuit.

They finished that way, too.

Edwards took the lead midway through the race and never let go of it, finishing the 5K in 20 minutes, 33 seconds to win the individual Class 5A girls’ title at the MAIS Cross Country Championships Monday at Choctaw Trails.

Eldridge finished fourth, and the Lady Flashes were fifth in the team standings.

“Samantha was running well and pressed to extend the lead over the next half (of the race), then finished strong to hold it. She really had a great race,” St. Al coach Donald Roesch said. “Hendrix had a solid race, too. The third-place girl ran a great final 1,000 meters to catch and get in front of her.”

Hendrix Eldridge

Edwards beat her best time of the season by 35 seconds and won her first race.

The freshman had only competed in four of St. Al’s eight events, but finished in the top 15 at each one and steadily improved. She was third at the Cathedral Invitational on Oct. 4, with a time of 21:08, and obliterated that mark on Monday when it mattered most.

Edwards’ time of 20:33 was nine seconds ahead of East Rankin Academy teammates Leah Collipp and Emily Williams, who crossed the finish line in second and third place, respectively, just .21 seconds apart.

Collipp and Williams helped East Rankin total 52 points and win the girls’ team championship. Simpson Academy was second with 54 points, and was followed by Columbia Academy (57), Oak Forest (111) and St. Al (125).

Eldridge came across the line 12 seconds after Collipp and Williams, just ahead of Oak Forest Academy’s Chloe Schexnayder (20:56). The top 10 runners were separated by less than a minute. Only one senior and two juniors were among the top 25.

Eldridge, a seventh-grader, finished an outstanding seventh-grade season with another strong race. She competed in all eight meets and finished in the top 10 every time. Monday’s performance was her fifth top-five finish and netted her Class 5A All-State honors.

In the boys’ Class 5A meet, St. Al’s Spencer Carroll placed 27th, Dalton Windham 30th, Logan Johnson 35th and Walker Lambiotte 38th. The Flashes finished seventh out of 11 schools in the team team standings.

“Our scoring positions ran close together, which helps in team scoring,” Roesch said. “The guys really raced well with each other today, feeding off their teammates and lifting a couple of them into better scoring positions.”