Cleveland Express and Bradley Central teammates Paul Patterson and Harold Smith Jr. not only finished with the two fastest times in the boys 15-16, but also posted top 5 times for the overall 5,000-meter race that also included boys ages 17-19.
Bouncing back from an injury that cost him most of the fall high school running season, Patterson’s time of 16:06.89 was over seven seconds better than his teammate to claim the 15-16 championship. It was also the second-best time of the day as overall winner Michael Jones was the only runner to break the 16-minute barrier with a time of 15:58.23.
Smith ran a 16:14.19 to earn runner-up honors in the 15-16 and finish fifth in the national race.
Phillip Meyer of Cheyenne, Wyo., and Jordan Travis, from the Southeast Louisiana team, posted times of 16:11.30 and 16:14.08 respectively to finish between Patterson and Smith.
Smith and Patterson have been the mainstays of the Bradley cross country team for the last couple of years, earning spots in the TSSAA state race each of their respective years at the local high school.
After a second place finish at the Region 3-AAA race, Smith went on to a 19th place finish at this year’s state meet. His best time this season was a 16:05 at the Jesse Owens Invitational in Oakville, Ala., plus he had numerous other top 10 finishes.
Patterson suffered an injury early in the fall season but bounced back to finish 42nd at the TSSAA meet in Nashville. He improved his time by 1:15 between the state race in October until the AAU national last weekend.