When Andy Caudell lined up with 148 other cross country runners at the Oct. 22 Georgia Middle School State Championships, he had a chance to make history for Riverside Middle School.
Not bad for a first-year competitor who was younger than most of the field.
When he finished the 2 miles in 12 minutes, eight seconds, he did something no other seventh-grader at the school has done by securing a top-10 finish. He finished in 10th place.
“His performance, to me, is just unreal,” his coach, Stefanie Basinger, said. “It’s his first year running and he didn’t even realize how fast he was.”
With his strong effort in the race at Bleckley County Elementary School in Cochran, Ga., Caudell also broke the school’s seventh-grade record by four seconds.
Michael Montesclaros formerly held the mark.
Basinger said that Caudell was a bit disappointed, initially, by not receiving a medal after the race for his top-10 finish.
He didn’t realize that he would be recognized afterwards alongside the rest of the top 10.
Riverside’s boys finished eighth out of 19 teams in the Large School division. The girls were 16th out of 20.
Austin Kilpatrick was the team’s next-best runner, finishing 28th in 12:44. Jordan Bowman was 53rd, followed by Chandler McGahee (80th)and Bryson Kotas (83rd).
The girls team was led by Carys Behnke, 35th in 14:18. Victoria DeFerraris (49th) was 20 seconds behind her.
Julia Baughn represented Evans, where she finished 53rd in 14:46.
As Columbia County high schools have excelled in the sport in recent years, it’s no surprise that runners are getting their start early.
Perhaps these athletes will be the next in a line of top state finishers when they perfect their craft a few years down the road.