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Knott, BHS boys win cross-country title

Like a fighting hero exiting the arena, they bore him up on their shoulders.

Brookhaven High School senior Andrew Knott was hoisted up, red and sweating, at the end of the cross-country state finals Monday after he crossed the finish line first to become the fastest man in 5A — and a state champion. The star Panther runner finished the 5K race in 16 minutes, 43 seconds to claim the title, and his teammates crossed over right behind him to earn the team championship for Brookhaven.

“I was just trying to do my part on the team and put us in the best possible position to pull out the win,” said Knott, a verbal commit to the cross-country team at William Carey University. “This group of guys has been working hard for the past few years to achieve this. I’m glad everything finally came together.”

Knott competed shoelace to shoelace with last year’s 5A champion — his teammate, senior Adrian Lockwood, who finished 24 seconds later in second place, completing the 3.1 miles in 17 minutes, 7 seconds.

Knott said Lockwood was leading him by 10 seconds after the first mile, but the two were even in the next quarter-mile. By the half-mile mark, Knott had overtaken Lockwood and jumped ahead by 15 seconds.

The rest of the Panthers turned in stellar performances as well. All seven Panther runners finished in the top 15 percent of the race, which featured 162 total competitors from around the state. The great individual performances by the Brookhaven runners allowed them to edge out arch-rival Saltillo, with whom they’ve traded points and placement since last season, to take the state championship as a team.

Rounding out the top seven BHS runners were senior Darius Arnold, who finished in eighth place with a time of 17 minutes, 47 seconds; sophomore Jacob Britt finished in 13th place with a time of 17 minutes, 57 seconds; eighth-grader Grayson Childress, who finished 15th with a time of 18 minutes, 4 seconds; eighth-grader Jake Thompson, who finished 23rd with a time of 18 minutes, 34 seconds; and senior Caleb McCreary, who finished 24th with a time of 18 minutes, 38 seconds.

Behind the Brookhaven men came 138 other runners.

Knott won the trophy after a season of triumph in which he’s been ranked either the first- or second-place runner statewide, regardless of classification. His father, assistant cross-country coach Shannon Knott, said Andrew has been logging around 50 miles per week since spring to prepare himself for the championship run.

“He’s a hard worker, a straight-A student, an Eagle Scout, a great kid,” he said. “I’m lucky to be his father.”

The BHS girls team also turned in a slick performance, finishing in second place among 17 5A teams.

Sophomore Carley Craig led the Lady Panthers, finishing in 11th place of 123 total competitors with a time of 22 minutes, 6 seconds. Following her were junior Miyah Miller, who finished 12th with a time of 22 minutes, 16 seconds; sophomore Emmaline Wolfe, who finished 16th with a time of 22 minutes, 43 seconds; eighth-grader Ellie Slay, who finished 17th with a time of 22 minutes, 49 seconds; sophomore Gracie Gray, who finished 22nd with a time of 23 minutes, 27 seconds; sophomore Bailey Pounds, who finished 23rd with a time of 23 minutes, 29 seconds; and junior Abby Roberts, who finished 48th with a time of 25 minutes, 14 seconds.

Behind them came 75 other runners.

“It was a great day for Ole Brook cross-country,” said head coach Kevin Bower. “The support for our team from the school and the community was overwhelming.”