TIFTON — The cross country season has opened for both Tift County and Tiftarea Academy and both now have two meets under their belts.

Both schools participated in the Patriot Pride Invitational at Rochelle Aug. 21, with Tift at Dueling Summits in Tallahassee, Fla., last Saturday and Tiftarea traveling to Southland Academy on the same date.

Ainsley Toews was the best overall runner for the Lady Devils at Dueling Summits, according to MileSplitFL. Toews ran the course in 23:50 to finish 12th overall. Ava Wilson finished 24th overall and Madeline Perrin was 38th. Hannah Larger and Lauren Brey were Tift’s other two counting runners.

As a team the Lady Devils were fifth of 11 schools.

For the boys, Aidan Evans ran 34th in Tallahassee and Ben Wilson was 46th. Owen Payne, Sergio Martinez and Dawson McMillan also saw their times count towards the team’s total. Tift finished eighth of 17 schools.

At the Southland Raider Run, Jude Bailey turned in a time of 19:59 for sixth place. Colson Stewart ran in 22 minutes for 15th, according to MileSplitGA results, and Carter Cook gave the Panthers three runners in the top 20 (and three in the top 13 for those counting towards team points).

Logan Floyd was 32nd and Dylan Seagraves finished 36th overall. The Panthers were second to perennial powerhouse Trinity Christian of Dublin.

For as well as the boys of Tiftarea did, two Lady Devils cracked the top 10 in their race: Ann Catherine Walker and Caroline Barksdale. Walker was fifth in 26:24, only barely nudging Barksdale, whose time was 26:29.

Sophie Compton (21st), Jasmine Olson (23rd) and Frances Nelson (24th) all had their times count to the total, with Sarah Grace Kozma barely behind them at 28th.

Shockingly, those numbers were not enough to top Terrell Academy from first place. The Lady Eagles had four runners in the top 10 to defeat Tiftarea, 39-43.

In middle school action, Kate Phillips was eighth at Southland to help give the Lady Panthers fourth place. The boys were third, thanks to fifth place from Joshua Hellman, sixth from Ethan Reid and 15th from Elijah Hellman. Preston Barskdale was 21st.

On Aug. 21, both schools compete at Wilcox County.

Toews was seventh (at 22:46) and Wilson ran 10th (23:16) for Tift to finish third. Others counting towards the total were Perrin, Larger and Brey. Barksdale was Tiftarea’s fastest at 26:23, taking 23rd. Nelson, Compton, Olson and Kozma completed their lineup.

Bailey’s 19:39 and 14th place were the quickest for the Panthers in the boys race. Evans was 16th to lead Tift, which finished fourth.

Wilson, Martinez, McMillan and Caden Bowyer counted towards their total. Behind Bailey were Stewart, Floyd, Cook and Seagraves.

Jase Hendricks was Tiftarea’s best middle school runner, finishing fifth (13:00). Tift County’s top runner was Karson Ponder in seventh at 13:17. Others in the top 20 for the Devils were Russ Benton and Austin King.

Tiftarea’s Lady Panthers were fourth at the same meet, courtesy of Phillips’ fourth place and Lizzie Hendricks’ fifth. Morgan Brey for 13th for the Lady Devils.

Tift County’s high school runners are scheduled to go to Jekyll Island this weekend. The Panthers are off this weekend, but are to be at Lee County Sept. 11. The Panther Prowl is set for Oct. 16.

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