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State champion Cougars

By By Matthew Nascone
State championship success can last for a lifetime. The Escambia Academy boys' cross country team has tasted that sweet morsel of a championship. They traveled to Mobile Oct. 26 for the AISA Class 1-3A state championship and came back with the first place trophy.
In the individual realm, Seth Lassiter, Alan Ash and Chase Amerson finished one, two and three, respectively.
"The most amazing thing about that trio of boys is that they are all sophomores or younger," EA head coach Joel Lambert said. "So I look forward to next year because I anticipate EA will have a dynasty for the next couple of years."
Also placing for the boys team was Wade Matthews, 15th, Andrew Lambeth, 24th and Jordan Sasser, 25th.
Lambert knows that this state championship is special and he said he believes all of the boys who finished top three will one day snag a college scholarship running cross country.
"Now they have something they can be proud of," Lambert said. "People can take the times and the distances from you, but down the road these guys can look back and know that they won the state championship. And that is special. Nobody can take that away from them.
Lambert has formed a special bond with these guys.
"I normally don't like kids, but I love all of these kids," he said. "They are all good kids and I got close to them."
Scoring in cross country is like golf, the lower the score, the better the score. EA won with a score of 45 and Cottage Hill Academy was close on their heels with a score of 53. Rounding out the top three was Tuscaloosa Academy with 62 points.
The EA girls did not come away with the win, but they did finish in second place. Faith Academy walked away with the championship with a score of 27 points. EA finished with 48 points.
Andrea Nall finished four seconds off the individual champion for second place, Kristen Matthews finished ninth, Taylor Hubbard 10th, Charla Starke, 13th and Grayson Emmons, 14th. Also running for EA was Audra Tatum.
"To run how they run and not give up is great," Lambert said. "There is no glamour in cross country running, but these girls don't care, they just want to win."
Lambert is the coach, but he said there is no way the cross country program would be what it is if not for Dale Ash.
"If it wasn't for Dale Ash doing the administrative work we would not be able to compete like we do," Lambert said. "She is great."
For finishing in the top-10 Lassiter, Ash, Amerson, Nall, Kristen Matthews and Hubbard were named to the AISA All-State team.