Auburn High Senior Runners Leave Legacy
THREE-TIME CROSS COUNTRY STATE CHAMPIONS (2017, 2018 AND 2019)
Auburn High had never won a girls cross country state championship before 2017. Now the Tigers hold three repeat AHSAA Class 7A state titles thanks to five graduating seniors, Samantha Rogers, Harper McGowan, Sarah Parnell, Gracie Booher and Hallie Stewart.
“I never knew we would be able to do something as amazing as we did,” said Rogers. “It’s nice to leave something like that behind. It was just cool to work up to it with the same people, get to know everybody and do it as a team.”
Auburn High’s last title in 2019 was a fight to the finish against Mountain Brook. After the top five runners from each team were placed, both team’s finished in a tie. The championship came down to the sixth runner, and Auburn High won their third straight title.
“We had really hard competition, and especially because it came down to such an exciting finish,” said Stewart. “We tied and then we weren’t sure we won, but then when we thought we did it was just the best moment.”
All five girls graduate from Auburn with honors and have signed to continue running at Division 1 colleges. Rogers will compete for Auburn University, McGowan will study Physical Therapy at Samford University, Parnell joins the University of Southern Mississippi, Booher is staying close to home at Troy University and Stewart will run with Davidson College.
“The only word I can say is excited,” said Parnell. “I just think it’s really cool that we all get to pursue what we really like to do.”
This is an extra special moment for Booher, who originally joined the cross country team for fun. Overtime the sport grew into something the senior really loved.
“I never thought that I would make it here. I think it’s definitely, partly to my girls who helped push me and make me better and encourage me to be the best that I could be,” said Booher.
Senior classes like this group are rare. Being humble, competitive and determined to win for the team is the perfect combination. Girls Cross Country Head Coach Olivia Tofani started out as an assistant when these seniors were freshman, and she knew they had potential early on.
“It has been really cool to not only see just their talent from so early on, but also how their leadership has developed over the past four years to set up success for our entire program,” said Tofani.
Although COVID-19 denied these seniors one last chance to win their first and the school’s second girls track and field state championship, their love for running has never stopped. Training continues as well as being a role model for the future of Auburn running.
“All of my best friends had the exact same goal that I did, and we all were just working together,” said McGowan. “We all worked really hard to get here, so actually being here and getting to celebrate that together is really special.
Good luck to all five girls in college next season.
2019 AHSAA Class 7A Women’s Cross Country State Championship Results
1) Crawford West, Vestavia Hills HS 18:07.92 1
2) Samantha Rogers, Auburn 18:11.31 2
3) Reagan Riley, Mountain Brook HS 18:22.09 3
4) Harper McGowan, Auburn 18:27.97 4
5) Lily Hulsey, Mountain Brook HS 18:30.40 5
6) Lindsey Baxter, Baker 18:33.92 6
7) Sangie Lincoln-Vele, Auburn 18:47.85 7
8) Claire Frazier Bol, McGill-Toole 18:50.27 8
9) Elizabeth Robertson, Mountain Brook HS 18:53.70 9
10) Mary Katherine Mal, Mountain Brook HS 18:55.29 10
11) Adley Burkes, Central – Phen 18:55.82 11
12) Hallie Stewart, Auburn 19:00.31 12
13) Evie Bell, Oak Mountain HS 19:03.21 13
14) Sabina Ortiz, Mountain Brook HS 19:03.43 14
15) Mary Claire Ridgewa, Florence Hig 19:08.05 15
16) Sarah Parnell, Auburn 19:16.12 16
17) Elizabeth Nist, Auburn 19:19.22 17
18) Maci Mills, Hewitt-Truss 19:23.39 18
19) Katy Lambert, Vestavia Hills HS 19:25.81 19
20) Alex Pitts, Mountain Brook HS 19:34.04 20
21) Holland Lidikay, Spain Park 19:35.05
22) Greer Davis, Mountain Brook HS 19:36.81 21
23) Emily Allen, Thompson 19:37.81
24) Mackenzie Culpeppe, Spain Park 19:38.87
25) Clark Stewart, Mountain Brook HS 19:40.45
26) Lucy Benton, Mountain Brook HS 19:42.91
27) Alyssa Halcomb, Hoover 19:45.61
28) Leslie Baxter, Baker 19:51.83 22
29) Gracie Booher, Auburn 19:53.94 23
30) Tessa Allen, Mountain Brook HS 19:59.49