TRM’s girls cross country team claims state runner-up, Karisa Nelson claims individual state championship

The 2013 girls team with coaches Alan Ash, Rob Atkinson and Scott Huff.  Photo courtesy of Kim Flores

The 2013 girls team with coaches Alan Ash, Rob Atkinson and Scott Huff.
Photo courtesy of Kim Flores

The T.R. Miller girls cross country captured another red map state runner-up trophy Saturday at the state cross country meet at the Oakville Indian Mounds Park. The trophy was the fifth time in sixth years for the Lady Tigers.
After finishing second to Bayside Academy last week at the sectional meet, the Lady Tigers found themselves behind the Lady Admirals for the second straight time and second time in as many years as they Lady Admirals defeated T.R. Miller 59-69.
While, as a team, T.R. Miller claimed their second straight state runner-up, Lady Tiger Karisa Nelson won her fifth straight individual 3A title with a time of 17:55.18.
Nelson, a Samford University commit, has finished first from 2009-2013 and took second in the state in the 2008 race as a seventh grader.
For the T.R. Miller girls Saturday, Nelson took first place and was followed by twin sister Katie with a time of 19:04.21. Allie Nelson ran a time of 20:13.87 for ninth place overall while Kelsi Lum had a time of 21:20.88 for 18th overall out of 129 runners.
Tarah Townsend placed 46th overall with a time of 22:27.95 and Amber Terry was 49th overall with a time of 22:42.32.
Sarah Byrd ran a time of 23:14.06 for 60th overall while Breann Huff had a time of 23:18.72 for 63rd place. Morgan Rowell and Shelby Evans rounded out the Lady Tigers. Rowell had a time of 24:14.17 for 79th overall while Evans had a time of 25:42.39 for 104th place.
T.R. Miller’s top five runners came in first, third, eighth, 16th and 41st place for a total time of 1:41:02.09 and an average time of 20:12.42. Bayside’s runners took fifth, seventh, ninth 18th and 20th place and had a total time of 1:43:19.75 and an average time of 20:39.95.
“We ran, by far, the best race of the year on Saturday,” T.R. Miller Tiger cross country head coach Rob Atkinson said. “We ran with tremendous courage. Kelsi Lum was outstanding with her time. Everybody across the board had PRs (personal records). I was really impressed. The only one who did not have a PR was Katie Nelson, but she still ran a great race and finished third and made all-state again. I am very proud of what she did.” Atkinson said the senior leadership on his team could not have been any better.
“I could not have asked more from our seniors,” he said. “Karisa Nelson was just on a mission. She had some problems early on in the year. We got those problems fixed and had just an unbelievable race Saturday. She set the 3A state record and is the number one runner in the state this year. She has run the fastest time of anyone in the state.”
Atkinson said Bayside just ran a great race and they were just a little bit better than his team was Saturday.
“It was just a great day, a great trip all-around,” he said. “They handled the trip really well and ran with a lot of courage. Bayside was just a little bit better than we were. We ran a great race. Just came up a little bit short. We did all we could. We practiced really hard this year and did what it took. We just came up a little bit short. That is going to happen some times in life. It is not all wins. I thought we had a tremendous season. It was the best season we had, by far. It was a tribute to our great leadership. I also want to give thanks to Alan Ash and Scott Huff who did a great job of helping us out this year and helping when I was not there. I am very pleased with their efforts.”
Atkinson praised Karisa Nelson on her work ethic and said she had a great cross county career at T.R. Miller. Both Karisa and Katie ran national silver standard times Saturday at the state meet.
“She has five state individual championships and also what she has done in the track meets,” Atkinson said. “She has been running with us now for six years and we have finished second in the state now for five years and she has won five state championships. Her work ethic has just been unbelievable. Not only for what she has done, but what she has done for T.R. Miller. She is also a volleyball player, she has been in the band, she runs cross country and she runs track. She has just been a great individual for T.R. Miller and has represented our school extremely well. Katie has also done well. She has been right there with her the whole time. Karisa is a great leader. She has a great work ethic and all those other kids look up to her to see how she works. It is amazing to see what she has done for us.”
As for Karisa Nelson, who has committed to run at Samford next year, she said to take another first place finish was good for her after suffering from anemia earlier this year.
“The whole team did really well,” she said. “Everyone had their PRs and did what they were supposed to do and even did better than they were supposed to do. As for me, everything was perfect. The weather was perfect and my legs felt great. It was just perfect. It was a good day to run hard. I went out a little too fast on my first mile and that made me a little scared, but I just pushed through it.”
Karisa took individual honors as she won the Class 3A girls title for the fifth straight season.
“I just think that it put a perfect closure on my cross country career for our school,” she said. “I could not have done it without coach A. He really tries his hardest. It has been a battle the whole time. Earlier this year we found out I was anemic, so I thought wasn’t going to be running well. I thought I was going to have to go Division II with everything. I just thought it was going to be no way I was going to win. Then just everyone pushed me through it and told me they believed in me and told me I was going to do it. But, as for my whole career, I really just don’t know. I just take it one step at a time. That is just about it. I am just really proud of my team. They ran great even though we got second. I really respect coach A. He did a really good job of coaching cross country even though he does a lot of other things. He is just really great at everything.”
Last year, the Lady Tigers fell by five points to the Lady Admirals as Bayside Academy defeated T.R. Miller 66-71.
The Lady Tigers scored 103 points to place third behind state champion Montgomery Academy’s 36 points and runner-up Rogers’ 49 points in 2011, ending a three-year run at winning the runner-up trophy.
The Lady Tigers fell 18 points short to Rogers 60-42 in 2010 to claim the state runner-up. The year before, in 2009, the Lady Tigers lost by two points to Montgomery Academy and in 2008, came up seven points short also to Montgomery Academy.
“I am disappointed (to get another state runner-up),” Atkinson said. “But the way our girls ran, it is hard to say anything. They ran as hard as they possibly could. We would have liked to have won it, but I am disappointed. You teach them to do everything as hard as they possibly can and they did. We just came up a little bit short. Their effort was tremendous and that is all you can ask for.”
While the boys did not compete as a team, they still sent two runners to the state meet.
Brothers Christian Carlson and Travis Carlson ran in the event. Christian ran a time of 17:55.90 for 25th place overall while Travis ran a time of 18:47.00 for 60th place out of 138 runners.
“Christian ran his best race of the year,” Atkinson said. “He had his best time at 17:55, so I was pleased with that. Christian has given us a lot of senior leadership this year as he is my only senior. Travis ran a great race and had a PR. He had a time of 18:47. That is his best time of the year. He is going to continue to get better and better. He will be running some 17s and will be running some 16s by his senior year. He has tremendous potential, so I was very pleased with both of them.”
As for next year, Atkinson called the future of the T.R. Miller cross country teams “bright.”
“We lose the two Nelsons (Karisa and Katie) obviously, but we are going to be a more well-rounded team,” he said. “We have some really good young talent coming up in Kelsi Lum and Tarah Townsend and Sarah Byrd. I have some sixth graders that are coming along and they are going to be good runners. Our future is still bright for our girls.”
For the boys, Atkinson said they were really young this year.
“They will definitely continue to improve, but we have some good young runners coming up that are still fifth and sixth graders that are coming into the program,” he said. “The future is still bright for our programs even though we lose two good runners, we still are going to be able to qualify for state with all our young runners. I appreciate all the support from the parents. They made my job an awful lot easier.”
Karisa Nelson claimed another individual state championship Saturday. Nelson has committed to run at Samford University next year. Photo courtesy of Kim Flores

Karisa Nelson claimed another individual state championship Saturday. Nelson has committed to run at Samford University next year.
Photo courtesy of Kim Flores