DANVILLE — Nicholas Ulrich finished his career at the state cross-country meet at Oakville Mounds Indian Park in the best way possible. The Athens Bible senior won the first state 1A-2A championship of his career, crossing the finish line at 16:43.18 for a personal record.
Ulrich had a feeling he could win a title coming into the race, so it was all about keeping his composure.
“I was worried that I might choke,” Ulrich said. “I saw the previous results, and felt like I could. You can’t just go off numbers, though. I thought I had a great chance if I ran a good race. That’s just what I did.”
Ulrich’s finish was the third top 15 finish for him at the state meet for his career. He had a slightly disappointing finish in last year’s race. He came in 16th after running the race with an illness.
With a clean bill of health, Ulrich ran one of the best races of his career at the best possible time.
“I feel like a million dollars. It’s hard to believe,” Ulrich said. “Five years of my life are coming to an end.”
He was the only runner from the area to win a state title Saturday. Plenty of other runners finished with All-State honors, however.
There were races in six classifications for boys and girls. The top 15 runners from each classification earn All-State for the race.
Lawrence County’s Emily Daniel placed third in the Class 5A girls race with a time of 19:27.33. Taylor Williams, also from Lawrence County, placed 14th at 20:33.64. Lawrence County’s girls team finished as the state runner-up in Class 5A, with Scottsboro taking the title.
Steele Joiner placed fifth for Lawrence County in the boys Class 5A race. He had a time of 16:28.52.
Athens’ Guy Greenhaw crossed the finish line at 16:24.48, earning a 13th-place finish in Class 6A.
In Class 4A, two local girls runners earned this honor. West Morgan junior Yahary Marcelino finished second at 19:36.40. Lamp’s Kathy Hammond won the title. West Limestone junior Katie Serrato placed sixth with a time of 20:17.95.
Hatton saw two of its girls runners earn All-State honors in the Class 1A-2A race. Ally Amerson placed seventh with a time of 21:37.04. Senior Alondra Aranda was ninth, crossing the finish line at 21:45.09.
Hatton also placed two boys runners in the top 15. Carson Graves finished 11th (17:44.28), and Jairo Lopez came in 15th (17:53.94).
“I think everybody either hit their personal record or had their best time on this course,” Hatton coach Brandon Barringer said. “It was a fast year. To have multiple All-State runners is good for the program.”
Hatton placed fifth in the Class 1A-2A for the boys as a team and fourth for the girls.
Lawrence County’s boys team finished fifth in Class 5A. Athens boys placed fifth in Class 6A.
The top times of the day went to Saint James’ Presley Miles (17:48.56) for the girls and Ethan Strand (15:18.58) of Vestavia Hills for the boys
Many runners from across Alabama had their high school careers come to an end at the state meet. Ulrich’s finish is one he’ll always remember.
“It’s hard to believe it’s over,” Ulrich said. “I wouldn’t want it to be over any other way.”