Parkway Panthers Have Podium Parade at RXC4!


The rain, which fell on Birmingham's John Hunt Running Park on Saturday may have turned the course into a mud bath, but it did nothing to dampen the spirits of the Parkway Panthers who podiumed in two different divisions of the RunningLane Cross Country Championships-one of the most competitive post-season races in the nation.

"It was worth the wait," Parkway coach Kent Falting said of the first national meet experience for his Panthers, who ran under the club name Legacy Track Club.

The Parkway girls won the bronze division. Once again, the team was led by their No.1-No.2 punch of Cheyenne Olson and Ember Pierce. Olson (20:47)  finished No. 14, but was the highest finisher among the teams competing in the race. Pierce (21:17) finished No. 34 overall. 

Falting credited the Panthers pack running for the high team finishes and that is evident in the girl's team victory as No.3-No.5 all finished within seven seconds of one another-not an easy thing to do with the number of the runners competing. 

Kiara Jackson (24:09), Lauren Taylor (24:11), and Allison Taylor (24:16) rounded out the top five for the victorious Lady Panthers.

"Cheyenne went for it in her last high school cross country race to end the season with no regrets," Falting said. "Ember Pierce and Allison Taylor PR'd! We were especially excited to see the Taylor twins back healthy and running after having to shut them down due to injury during the regular season. We were super excited to have our girls team end this season on a high note. With only one girl graduating, I think this was a great meet to build off of for next season."

While the Parkway boys team did not come away with the first place trophy, they did make the podium with their runner-up performance in the meet's silver division. The result in their final meet of the year was the "icing on the cake" of the best season in school history. 

Once again, there were several familiar names at the top of the Parkway boys' results. 

Brennan Robin (16:43), who had the fastest time in the state at last month's LHSAA State Cross Country Championships, led the Panther with a No. 58 finish.

Parkway's school record holder, Gabriel Falting (17:08), was not far behind at No. 111. Parkway's pack running through the rain and the mud was nothing short of phenomenal. Other runners included Gary Smith (17:11), Ben Ruliffson (17:13),  Andrew Kent (17:18), Alex Gomez (17:23).

"Our boys have had an incredible season and RunningLane was the icing on the cake," Falting said. "Our success came this year from learning to run as a pack and that's exactly what we needed in these muddy conditions. Our 35 second split was one of the lowest splits in the field throughout the day. Our long term goal is to get on the radar and watching Brother Martin win the Silver division last year and climb into the national conversation this year, we're hoping to duplicate that in 2024. I could not be more proud of how these runners ended their season."