Green Wave runners step up to claim state title

Published 6:14 pm Monday, October 23, 2023

CLINTON — Cathedral Cross Country won its eighth straight title Monday afternoon at Choctaw Trails. The Green Wave Boys team placed three runners in the top five to help clinch the MAIS-5A state championship.

Junior Owen Bertlesen, junior Alex Monagan and freshman Thomas McKnight placed third through fifth with times of 18:29.76, 18:31 and 18:32.08. Junior Landon French placed 22nd with a time of 20:00.36 and eighth grader Chase Gamberi finished 30th with a time of 20:37.96 to score for the Green Wave.

Head Coach Tommy Smith said the team blew him away with their performance. Cathedral was projected to finish third going into the state meet. He told the team where they stood going into the start of the race and the runners stepped up. They overcame any nerves ahead of the race.
“Wow is all I can say. Talk about kids pulling something together. We won by a huge margin. It blew me away,” Smith said. “Statistically, we were not the one. Basically the whole team stepped up today. We had some ups and downs. A couple of good races and one great race this year.” 

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East Rankin and Simpson Academies were projected to finish ahead of Cathedral while Providence Classical Academy was projected to finish fourth behind the Green Wave. Smith said both teams spoiled the party, finishing first and second. 

A close finish by Bertelsen, Monagan and McKnight likely clinched the title by saving points. French and Gamberi stepped up to contribute to the win. Smith said Monagan and McKnight were beastly in their performance.

“I think there is a level of buy-in. They can’t drop the ball and recognize they have a responsibility to see those other teams behind them,” Smith said. “They all ran well. The times were not indicative of their performance.” 

Temperatures in Clinton hit a high of 92 which led to slower times. 

Cathedral’s girls team finished seventh overall. Sophomore Molly Foster finished with a time of 23:50.88 to place 24th overall. Eighth grader Adeline Burget finished with a time of 26:28.48 to place 40th. Seventh grader Molly McLemore finished with a time of  27:28.o4 to place 48th and score for the Green Wave.

Smith missed their number one girls runner Allie Grace McGehee today. She missed the season due to surgery. Cathedral had to run a sixth grader in the girls race due to another runner being injured. 

“We have a lot of promise for next year. No seniors across the board,” Smith said. “It is every coach’s dream. Have a winning program and no seniors. You can’t ask for more.”

Cathedral celebrated the win with a trip to Bulldog Burger. The day started out with a huge send off by the Green Wave family at school. Smith said his phone has not stopped ringing with texts and phone calls. 

“I’m just overwhelmed and proud of the entire team. We have a lot of young kids coming up. I know that this is not necessarily the season they will appreciate the most,” Smith said. “I tell the kids they will draw on their strength learned in cross country during their darkest moments. There is nothing harder than this. You will have the mental strength to help you get through the toughest times in life.”