High School Sports


Sept. 22, 2006

On the trail... with Assumption's runners

The Rockets will see that Hoover, Ala., can be more than football, at least for one day.

Home of the much ballyhooed Hoover High School football team, which is the subject of the MTV series "Two-A-Days" and is ranked No. 1 in Sports Illustrated's National Football Top 25, the city will host the Great American Cross Country Festival for the first time on Saturday.

The eighth annual event, which was moved out of Cary, N.C., features 21 races for high school and college runners. Rick Hill, the father of former Sacred Heart Academy standout Kipling Hill, started the festival in 1999. The National Scholastic Sports Federation bought the rights from him in 2002, but some of Kentucky's elite teams still compete there.

The girls' teams this year include Manual and Assumption, which are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in Class AAA, and Paul Dunbar, which has the top-ranked runner in Class AAA, defending champion Laura Steinmetz. The boys' teams include four-time defending Class A champion St. Henry, which is ranked No. 1; defending Class AAA champion St. Xavier and Manual, which are ranked No. 3 and No. 6, respectively; and North Hardin. St. X, Assumption and the Manual girls all will field a varsity team in the Nike Race of Champions, the event's premier high school race.

Four of No. 2 Assumption's runners are ranked in the top 12 in Class AAA: sophomore Ellen Daly (No. 2), who won the Tiger Run on Aug. 27; sophomore Hillary Raidt (No. 8), junior Adrienne Curtis (No. 9), and freshman Allison Riedling (No. 12).

BeyondTheDerby.com's Nathan Chambers visited with the Rockets during the final practice before their six-hour drive to Hoover.

Why he takes them
Coach Barry Haworth: "I wanted the girls to have an opportunity to see what else is out there. I see teams competing only within the state, and their thinking is provincial. They don't think outside the state. They think they're big fish, but this is a small pond. They forget there's a much bigger ocean out there with much bigger fish. An event like this tells you where you stand in the greater scheme of things."

Why they go
Senior Katie Beavin: "You think girls here are good, and then you go there and they're so much better. It shows you how good you are and how good you really could be, and it makes you work harder."

Who's going for the first time
Freshman Allison Riedling: "I hope to get my best time. I'm not really looking for my best position because I know there are going to be a lot of good girls there."

Who's going back
Senior Bethany Lega: "I happened to run a good race last year. I was really excited about that because the first year we went was not very good, and I wasn't thinking I'd do very well."

What it means for cross country
Beavin: "In Kentucky, the sport really isn't recognized that much. At school, it's not even recognized that much. So when we go to a place like that, it shows us how big the sport can be."

What makes Ellen Daly go
Daly: "I'm really good at pushing myself through pain. When I'm running, I just know what I want to do and I do it methodically. I run as hard as I can doing what I'm trying to do."

Assumption will enter teams in three races:

Adrienne Curtis, junior; Ellen Daly, sophomore; Freya Diehlmann, junior; Olivia Harlow, freshman; Amanda Perkins, freshman; Hillary Raidt, sophomore; Allison Riedling, freshman.

Team A
Katherine Blanford, sophomore; Melanie Brumleve, sophomore; Rebecca Burch, sophomore; Lauren Neichter, sophomore; Katie Sack, senior; Tamara Slovacek, sophomore; Amy Stamon, sophomore.

Team B
Kelsey Albrektson, junior; Katie Beavin, senior; Brittany Lay, junior; Bethany Lega, senior; CeCe Peck, sophomore; Debbie Ryan, junior; Whitney Shipman, sophomore.

Sara Davis, Amanda Day, Kelly Dermody, Sarah Edwards, Rachel Gregor, Kati Mehlhaff, Maddy Turner.