County Boys Cross Country

Ohatchee's Blake Noah crosses first during the Calhoun County Boys Cross Country meet at Choccolocco Park in Oxford. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

OXFORD — Virtual projections predicted it, and Ohatchee teammates Blake Noah and Gabe Hammonds talked about it in advance of Thursday’s Calhoun County cross country meet.

Then again, the county’s two top runners always do.

“Me and him, we talk a lot about who’s going to win each week,” Noah said. “I guess whoever wins gets the bragging rights.”

Noah rounded Choccolocco Park’s two-loop 5K course in 17 minutes, 21.92 seconds to win, and Hammonds took second in 17:26.18.

Pleasant Valley, led by Skyler McLeod’s third-place finish (17:39.44) and Coleman Haynes’ fourth-place finish (17:53.19), also validated the MileSplit virtual race projection with a comfortable team victory. The Raiders beat Ohatchee 38-59, and White Plains (61) took third.

The Raiders had five top-15 finishers despite resting one of its top runners, Cayden Nelson, who has what their coach called an “irritated” patella tendon. Nelson is expected to run at the state meet.

Pleasant Valley seeks its first state title in boys’ sports.

“The boys were running this meet as a simulation for state,” Pleasant Valley coach Brad Hood said. “I’ve never looked those guys in the eyes and said, ‘If I was picking a team to win state, it would be you. I’m telling them that this year.’”

Pleasant Valley was state runner-up in 2016. As for county, the Raiders leaned on McLeod.

“I was really proud of Skyler,” Hood said. “He was predicted, like, sixth or seventh in the meet. Him and the two guys from Ohatchee were neck-and-neck at the two-mile mark, and he held on for third.”

Ohatchee’s 1-2 tandem came in projected that way. Noah beat his projected time by nearly four seconds, and Hammonds was better by 10 seconds on the fast, flat Choccolocco course.

“When me and him run up in the front together, we just run together and just take off from everybody else,” Noah said.

Noah said he and Hammonds were “back and forth” as leaders. Noah passed on the final curve before turning up the chute.

“He just had more kick at the end, I guess,” Hammonds said. “We’re pretty competitive, but he’s like my brother, so, if I have to lose to somebody, I’m glad it’s him.”

Team results

Pleasant Valley 38, Ohatchee 59, White Plains 61, Oxford 98, Jacksonville 112, Alexandria 161, Donoho 219, Saks 241, Sacred Heart 263.

Individual top 15

Blake Noah, Ohatchee, 17:21.92

Gabe Hammonds, Ohatchee, 17:26.18

Skyler McLeod, Pleasant Valley, 17:39.44

Coleman Haynes, Pleasant Valley, 17:53.19

Christian Myles, Anniston, 17:53.55

Reed Robinson, Oxford, 17:58.40

Jacob Gladen, Pleasant Valley, 18:04.17

Dylan Hulsey, Oxford, 18:09.01

Luke Larson, White Plains, 18:13.07

Kayd Hightower, White Plains, 18:15.78

Evan Garner, Jacksonville, 18:23.55

Carson Limbaugh, White Plains, 18:23.71

Brayden Wright, Pleasant Valley, 18:34.63

Jackson Hicks, Anniston, 18:43.13

Kaige Roberts, Pleasant Valley, 18:47.51

Sports Writer Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter: @jmedley_star.