LAGRANGE – He had a strategy, and he stuck with it.
Coming into Tuesday’s cross-country race at Lafayette Christian School, LaGrange High’s Alex Bowie figured he would let somebody else lead the way until the end when he would surge to the front and be the first man across the finish line.
Sure enough, as Bowie hit the race’s home stretch, he was right on the heels of Tucker Sprayberry of Lee-Scott.
Scott had the narrow lead as the two approached the Lafayette Christian School football stadium where the finish line was located.
It was a steamy afternoon with temperatures near 90 degrees, and Bowie was physically spent, but he wasn’t about to come that close to winning and let someone else run away with the first-place medal.
“At the end, I was about to drop,” Bowie said. “But I thought I have to do this, and I just pulled it out.”
Once Bowie passed Sprayberry, it was no contest.
Bowie completed the 3.1-mile course in a time of 19 minutes, 28 seconds, and that was 10 seconds faster than Sprayberry.
Lafayette Christian’s Michael Loutzenheiser (20:00), who led early and was in contention much of the way, ended up placing fourth, and he was a few seconds behind Henry County’s Nicolas Thompson (19:53), who was third.
LaGrange’s Joshua Turman (20:32) rounded out the top five.
“Michael was setting a really fast pace coming out,” said Bowie, who was a teammate of Loutzenheiser’s at Lafayette Christian last year. “And then a guy from East Scott, he came up, and I passed him at the end.”
Bowie’s first-place showing helped LaGrange roll to the team win, and Callaway finished second.
Runners from Troup, Henry County, Lafayette Christian, Lee-Scott and Springwood also competed.
Bowie is in the midst of a superb freshman season, and he was coming off a seventh-place showing in the Carrollton Orthopedic Invitational on Saturday.
One of Bowie’s goals is to finish a race in less than 18 minutes, something he’s yet to accomplish.
“I’m hoping to break 18 minutes,” he said. “Right now, the only races we’ve run are on hard courses. And this one is really hilly. Once I run an easy race, I think I’ll be able to break 18 minutes.”
Four of the top 10 finishers in Tuesday’s race were Grangers.
Following Bowie and Turman was Miller Penn (20:50), who was sixth, while Donta Dunson (20:57) was eighth.
Two other Grangers finished in the top 20, with Matt Callaway (22:21) capturing the 17th spot, and Collin Taylor (22:39) placing 20th.
Callaway didn’t have any runners in the top 10, but it did claim four of the top 20 spots.
Calik Kemp (21:27), a freshman, was Callaway’s top finisher in 11th place, and senior Jason Freiberg (21:33) was 12th.
With Kemp and a handful of other young runners leading the way, the future looks bright for Callaway’s cross-country program.
“Out of my top seven, I only have one senior, and I only have one junior, and he wasn’t there today,” said Callaway coach Josh Ghobadpoor, who also leads the school’s wrestling program. “So the rest are freshmen and sophomores, so that’s really exciting. Calik, he finished 11th overall, and he’s never run cross country before in his life up until this year. So I see him only getting better.”
Ian Daughtery (22:10) finished 14th, and Dylan Mowery (22:36) was 19th.
Callaway’s fifth runner was Hayden Taylor (24:01), who placed 26th.
Ghobadpoor is pleased with the participation in cross country this season, and he said athletes in other sports are using it as a way to train.
“I had a lot of wrestlers out here,” Ghobadpoor said. “And there’s other people training for other sports. So bring ‘em on. If you want to get better, come out and we’ll condition.”
Troup’s top finisher in Tuesday’s race was Ryan Fuller (21:01), who earned a ninth-place finish.
Also for Troup, Tre Lance (21:48) was 13th, and Tyler Meadows (22:28) finished 18th.
Rounding out the top five for Troup were Danny Conner (25:15) and Jacob Kimball (25:28).
For Lafayette Christian, Loutzenheiser led the way with his fourth-place finish, and Alex Kliesch (22:10) and Serik Rosencrants (22:14) were 15th and 16th, respectively.
Lafayette Christian’s next two runners were Jacob Rocker (22:41) and John Reed Batchelor (24:21).
OF NOTE: For more photos from Tuesday’s race, check out facebook.com/LDNsports
1 – Alex Bowie (LaGrange), 19:28
2 – Tucker Sprayberry (Lee-Scott), 19:38
3 – Nicolas Thompson (Henry County), 19:53
4 – Michael Loutzenheiser (Lafayette Christian), 20:00
5 – Joshua Turman (LaGrange), 20:32
6 – Miller Penn (LaGrange), 20:50
7 – Jack Terry (Lee-Scott), 20:51
8 – Donta Dunson (LaGrange), 20:57
9 – Ryan Fuller (Troup), 21:01
10 – Johnathan Caldwell (Springwood), 21:17
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports