Photo by Sam Chandler.
Homewood High School sophomore Will Stone is positioned to lead the Patriot boys to a fifth-straight state title.
The Homewood High School boys and girls cross-country teams entered the season with state championship aspirations.
They’re right on track.
With less than two weeks until the state meet, the Patriots have solidified their status as Class 6A contenders. Paced by sophomore Will Stone and freshman Lainey Phelps, both squads look more than capable of bringing home blue maps on Nov. 12.
Stone has clocked the season’s second-fastest 5K time among 6A runners. With his personal-best mark of 15 minutes, 40.83 seconds, he leads a contingent of five Patriot boys who rank in the top 20 of their classification. No other 6A team has more than three runners ranked similarly.
Senior Paul Selden has trailed Stone by a slight margin throughout the season. His personal-best time of 15:58.50 positions him as 6A’s third-fastest runner, and his presence up front gives the Patriots a one-two punch that should propel them to their fifth state title in as many years.
Phelps, on the other hand, is in a class of her own. The freshman phenomenon has run 17:42.61 for 5K, which makes her Alabama’s lone female to dip under 18 minutes. Her blistering time is 32 seconds faster than the state’s second-fastest runner — Mountain Brook’s Anna Grace Morgan — and more than 1:20 faster than her closest 6A competitor.
Like the boys, the Patriot girls possess depth that is unmatched by any other school in their classification. Eight Homewood girls rank among the state’s top 20, which suggests the likelihood of a Patriot sweep is well within the realm of possibility. It would be the Homewood girls first-ever state title in cross-country.
The AHSAA State Cross Country Championships are Nov. 12 at Oakville Indian Mounds Parks near Moulton.