TRUSSVILLE — For years, Pinson Valley cross country coach Ed Palmer has been an enthusiastic figure at local meets. With bullhorn in hand, he cheers the lead competitors — and often those well back in the field — down the home stretch to the finish line, be they his own Indian runners or those from other teams.
In Thursday’s AHSAA Class 5A cross country sectional at the Trussville Country Club, Palmer really had something to shout about. But since he wasn’t running the show meet, the megaphone wasn’t there.
But the enthusiasm still was very much in evidence, as the Tribe won the sectional meet for the first time since Palmer took the coaching reins in 1997.
Led by individual runner-up Luis Gonzalez and fourth-place Larry Victor, Pinson Valley won with 28 points, just ahead of neighboring Center Point’s 50. Moody was third, securing the last team qualifying spot for next week’s state finals near Moulton.
Palmer thought he had a special team going into the county finals. After Thursday, he knew it for certain.
“Absolutely, this is the best,” Palmer said. “These guys have really learned how to pull together, and that every little thing you do is significant... We have to capitalize on every single moment.”
The Indians placed five runners in the top 10 points-scoring positions. Gonzalez, who won last week’s Jefferson County Schools individual title, was 4.6 seconds behind Dean Dillon, who was running unattached as Benjamin Russell didn’t field the minimum of five runners. Likewise for John Isley of Springville, who finished third overall.
Slade Shellnut placed eighth overall and sixth in the scoring standings, Ty Jenkins was 12th/9th and Lance Crawley was 10th/13th.
Gregory Wilson led the Eagles in seventh place, fifth in scoring positions. Herbert Moye was two spots behind.