Wildcat 5K

They're off! The boys run during the White Plains Wildcat 5K at White Plains' new cross country trail. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

Stephen Gross/The Anniston Star

WHITE PLAINS — Trinity Roberts has run a state-championship cross country course. She came away from Thursday’s inaugural Wildcat Twilight Invite feeling more tested on White Plains’ new course.

“The state course is a lot flatter, and it’s a lot more shaded,” the Pleasant Valley High standout said. “It’s more comfortable than this course. I know that.”

Roberts passed the test, finishing first overall in Thursday’s girls’ 5,000-meter race in 20 minutes, 58.83 seconds. Pleasant Valley teammate Matisse Miller was second overall in the boys’ race in 18:01.87, 36.19 seconds back of Lyman Ward’s Rogan Norrell.

Wildcat 5K

Trinity Roberts from Pleasant Valley wins the girls race during the White Plains Wildcat 5K at White Plains' new cross country trail.. Photo by Stephen Gross / The Anniston Star

The race was broken down into big- and small-school divisions. Alexandria’s Abby Nunnelly (21:47.46) took first in the big schools’ girls division and third overall, behind Pleasant Valley’s Rachel Faucett (21:30.15). White Plains’ Jake Moore (18:06.47) was first in the big schools’ boys race and third overall.

Pleasant Valley boys and girls swept the small-schools team divisions. Alexandria edge White Plains 24 points to 43 in the big schools’ girls division, and White Plains’ boys edged Anniston 39-66.

It was the first race of the cross country season for all 12 schools involved. The event had 15 teams signed up to run, but the threat of inclement weather prompted some out-of-area schools to pull out.

The new course was as much the story as who won and lost. White Plains coach John Moore teamed with team parents to build the course behind and around White Plains Middle and Elementary Schools starting in December of last year.

The course included manmade hills to add difficulty. The fact that the course hasn’t matured and mud from Wednesday’s rain added difficulty, as well, but cross country runners like a challenge.

Some compared the White Plains course to Moulton’s Jesse Owens course, which hosts the state meet each year.

“I love this course,” Nunnelly said. “This week, for practice, we ran it, and it’s, like, my second favorite course to Jesse Owens. I love it. It’s a real good cross country course.”

Nunnelly said she liked the steeper hills on the White Plains course.

Moore, who doubled as the race announcer, said the first race on the Wildcats’ new course went better than he expected.

“If six teams had been here, I would’ve been happy with that,” he said.

Moore got the double pleasure of seeing son Jake win in the big-schools division, while leading his team to victory. The coach also saw his girls team finish second, led by Blair Poythress’ time of 23:03.82 to finish second in the big division and fifth overall.

Pleasant Valley’s sweep in the small schools division was a dominant showing. The two-time defending 3A girls state champions, had the first seven finishers in their two-team division and seven out of the top 15 overall. The boys had six of the top 10 finishers in their division.

Miller led the boys and said he drew inspiration from remembering his friend, Chase Burrows, who died April 30. Burrows was a sophomore at the school.

“He was one of my best friends, one of my brothers,” Miller said. “He was a brother to all of us. Yesterday was four months, so I love him. That’s for him.”

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