Brad Hood

Pleasant Valley cross country coach Brad Hood shows off the Raiders' new course.

PLEASANT VALLEY — Those attending Piedmont’s football game at Pleasant Valley on Friday might’ve noticed a lot of yellow “do-not-cross” tape around the place.

Venture to one end of it, and the tape led to a fresh, wood entrance way to Pleasant Valley’s new cross country course, which was set for a major event on Saturday.

The Raiders’ invitational was set to draw 24 teams and more than 500 runners, all coming for the anaerobic challenge of Pleasant Valley’s hilly course and thrill of one design consequence.

Building off a program that has won three state titles, including the school’s only state title in boys’ sports, Pleasant Valley coach Brad Hood has done his best to make cross country a spectator sport. The 1.5-mile look takes runners into the football stadium and around the track twice.

Fans will get a look at the field halfway through the race and at the finish. They’ll get to cheer the runners battling to win at the end.

Because of the full course’s proximity to the stadium, cross country runners on it will know what it’s like to run in a spectator-sport atmosphere.

“When we did the ribbon cutting, they were talking about how great the atmosphere was, because the kids could hear music the whole time they were running,” Hood said.  

Saturday’s Raider Invitational field included St. James’ Presley Miles, the state’s No. 1 runner. It was one of four events scheduled for the new course, including the Calhoun County Meet, set for Oct. 24. It will mark a first for the county meet, which had always been held in Oxford.

Pleasant Valley’s ribbon-cutting event drew about 130 runners, and Hood had to cut off an Oct. 10 event at 20 teams.

He said the trail happened “by accident.”

“Ten months ago, I asked the principal (Mark Proper) if I could make a little trail around here to get off this in the sun and just do something different,” Hood said. “He said to check the property lines, and I looked.

“I was just wanting to do a little trail. I looked, and I was like, whoa, we can do a full one.”

Volunteers built the course at no cost to the school system.

Noteworthy

— Speaking of the Raider Invitational, Hewitt-Trussville won the boys’ 4A-7A race, followed by Oxford, Lincoln, Pell City and Alexandria. Pell City’s Jack Lowe was the top finisher at 18:16.85, followed by Central-Clay’s Ronald Piedra (18:48.76).

White Plains had four of the top eight in the boys’ 1A-3A race, winning with 29 points. James Middlebrooks (17:52.95) won, and teammate Jake Moore (18:29.28) was third. Anniston’s Christian Myles (18:06.84) took second in the field of 108.

Arab won the girls’ race with 83 points, and Pleasant Valley was second with 98. Miles (18:48.98) won by more than three minutes over Donoho’s Taylor Simmons.

— Alexandria volleyball had quite a week last week, winning eight matches over Muscle Shoals, Jacksonville, Arab, Wilson, Shades Valley, Faith Christian, Central-Clay and Cleburne County. Jordan Beason ran up 63 kills and 40 digs. Teammate Anna Johnson had 149 assists. Both were recognized in this week’s Alabama High School Athletic Association spotlight for volleyball.

— Last week was a good week to feature Donoho setter Maggie Miller in The Star’s “One-on-One” feature. She recorded 139 assists, 10 digs and eight aces as the Falcons (16-7) won six of seven matches on the way to beating Ohatchee in the finals of the White Plains Invitational. She also made the AHSAA’s spotlight for volleyball.

— Keeping a watch as the AHSAA enters its second year of replay review in football, three calls were challenged with one call being reversed during last week’s games. For the season, 13 challenges have been issued with three calls on the field overturned.

The 23.1-percent reversal rate is up slightly from 20 percent after the first two weeks.

The National Federation of High Schools has granted the AHSAA a three-year period to experiment with replay in regular season games.

Among the 29 schools to utilize optional replay statewide this season are Oxford, Handley and Munford.

— Here’s the schedule for varsity Calhoun County championship events this season: volleyball, Oct. 5-7, Alexandria/Jacksonville State; cross country, Oct. 24, Pleasant Valley; wrestling, Jan. 3, Pleasant Valley; basketball, Jan. 18-25, Jacksonville State; baseball, March 6-10 (March 11 rain date), Choccolocco Park; soccer, April 2-4, Choccolocco Park; golf, April 3-4, Pine Hill; track & field, April 7, Choccolocco Park; softball, April 7-10, Choccolocco Park.

Swimming is tentatively set for Nov. 2 at the Anniston YMCA, and tennis is tentatively set for Feb. 28-29 at Oxford Lake.

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

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