Belgreen cross country aims for state
BELGREEN – The Belgreen cross country team is already scheduled to race in Moulton three times this fall, but the team would love to make a fourth trip to the Moulton-Oakville Indian Mounds Park because the site is home to the state cross country meet Nov. 10.
Belgreen is the only school in Franklin County with a cross country program, which is unsubsidized by the school system and funded through a community donor.
The program started in fall 2002 after runners approached Belgreen track coach Frank Billingham and ask him to coach cross country.
This year's team features five runners – the minimum needed to qualify as a team for the state meet – and no seniors. Juniors Martha Billingham and Deborah Billingham and sophomore Rosalyn Hargett are Belgreen's most experienced runners. Freshman Lydia DeVaney, who has missed three meets with a deep knee bruise but is expected to return to competition within the next two weeks, is the team's No. 1 runner, while eight-grader Bridget Thompson has established herself as the No. 2 runner in her first season on the team.
The Bulldogs have qualified for state four times since 2002, and DeVaney had the school's first top 5 individual finish at the state meet last fall with a time of 20:54.13. The top three teams from the Nov. 3 section meet will qualify for state.
Belgeen has competed at four meets this season, including the Brooks Invitational in Florence, Chickasaw Trails in Oakville, Kudzu Hills Invitational in Cold Springs and Oakville's Jesse Owens Invitational, which had 2,800 registered runners.
"This team has a good attitude and is willing to work hard, and we have a shot at qualifying for state," Billingham said. "Our goal is to have everyone below 26 minutes by the end of the season."