By Kim West
One is a lifelong swimmer and the other is a relative newcomer to running, but both have found success pounding the pavement and navigating trails in the ultra-competitive realm of high school cross-country.
Athens senior Tate Carden, 18, the top boys runner in Limestone County, took home his third state medal in three seasons with a fourth-place finish during Saturday’s Class 5A boys state meet at Oakville Indian Mounds Park.
Carden, who did not start running until his freshman year, took off as a sophomore by placing 14th at the state meet to garner his first All-State honor. He added a third-place medal as a junior, to go along with Saturday’s performance in which he finished only one second out of the top three in a field of 163 runners.
“This was more of an all-out race and a war of attrition than last year’s race, which was more tactical,” said Carden, who has ascended from the self-described worst runner on the team three years ago to someone that could attend North Alabama or Alabama-Huntsville on a full cross-country scholarship next fall.
In a testament to his quietly competitive nature, Carden appeared slightly disappointed at his top 5 state performance but said he felt blessed to have had a successful and injury-free prep career.
“I run about 30 to 35 miles per week in training, and I had people tell me I should have been running more,” Carden said. “I’m going to increase my mileage before college, but I feel really blessed to not have any injuries.”
Athens junior Lindsey Martin, 16, has set personal records in three of her past four races this season and capped the year by recording a 22:38 finish at the 5A girls state meet.
Martin’s time eclipsed the school record she previously broke at the ABS Invitational (22:52) and Northwest Alabama Championships (22:42) last month.
Martin, who has been swimming since elementary school and is a competitive backstroker for the Huntsville Swim Association, shattered the Athens girls record previously held by Katherine Baker.
“I really do love to run, and it’s just different from swimming,” said Martin, who hopes to attend college on a swimming scholarship. “I really want to go under 22 or 21 minutes next year.”