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Dean on his way to the finish line

Dean a state champ

By Michael Butler

Last year, Tallassee High School cross country runner Woodrow Dean missed a first-place finish by a second. This year, it was not close. Dean, a junior, won by 42.6 seconds, running away with the state championship in the AHSAA Cross Country Championships Class 5A 5K event at the Oakville Indian Mounds Museum State Park near Moulton.

"I got as close as possible," Dean said of the narrow miss from the year prior. "I wasn't supposed to be that close."

This year was not close as Dean was expected to win and breezed to the finish line with a time of 15:33.83.

"I wouldn't say I cruised. I just wanted to win."

Dean's best time ever is a 14:48.9. This run was not quite at the pace of his personal best, but it was certainly good enough.

"The first mile I was at about 4:50. The second mile I came through at about 9:50. The first mile bases the whole race off of it."

1. Woodrow Dean, Tallassee, Jr., 15:33.83
2. Joseph Perry, UMS-Wright, Jr., 16:20.43
3. Steele Joiner, Lawrence Co., Jr., 16:32.42

A 5K is approximately 3.1 miles.

"He's been in nine races this year and lost only once," THS cross country coach Danny Worley said. "In the one race that he lost, the guys in front of him were all commitments to the top running schools in the country. That was in Atlanta."

Although Dean has another year to go, he has already garnered interest from colleges across the country. His training is 60 miles of running every week.

"There's not a kid out there that outworks Woody," assistant coach Mark Baynes said. "Whatever accolades he's got coming to him are well deserved. He leads by example. He gets after it on practice days."

2020 State Runners (left to right): Eli McCraney, Nathan Mason, Jacob Patterson, Jaylan Gaines, Caleb Mason, Grant McCraney, Brady Mason, Woodrow Dean, Ethan Stevenson, Alex Harrison.

As a team Tallassee finished eighth overall. St. John Paul II Catholic was first, followed by UMS-Wright and Montgomery-Catholic.

"This was our third year we've taken this group to the state meet," Worley said. "This tied our best performance ever. Overall it was our best average team time of 18:15. This our 11th year with the program."

Four runners clocked times under 19 minutes including Dean, Grant McCraney, Caleb Mason and Brady Mason. Other state qualifiers for Tallassee were Jacob Patterson, Jaylan Gaines, Ethan Stevenson, Alex Harrison, Baxlee Burton and Nathan Mason.

"There's good things to come next year," Baynes said. "We're looking for a top five."

*WTLS Interview

Tallassee Results (Overall Finish)


Woodrow Dean



Grant McCraney



Caleb Mason



Brady Mason



Jacob Patterson



Jaylan Gaines



Ethan Stevenson



Alex Harrison



Baxlee Burton



Nathan Mason