For years, Augusta Prep cross country coach Mike Burley thought his sport wasn't getting enough attention.
On Wednesday night, he did something about it.
Burley and Tom Crute, president of the Augusta Striders running club, presented the first All-Metro Augusta Cross Country Teams in the Starch Building at Enterprise Mill.
"I'm proud - happy - to present these awards," Burley said. "I wanted to honor these kids. They run 50 to 60 miles each week ... they're kind of unsung heroes. They don't get a lot of publicity."
The selections included a first- and second-team as well as an honorable mention squad. Athletes were picked based on their fastest 5K times of the year, and ties were broken by using head-to-head and region competition.
The teams, made up of seven runners each, were selected from Columbia and Richmond counties and part of Aiken County. Members of the first and second teams received plaques.
Greenbrier High sophomore Miguel Mota had the fastest time for the boys at 16 minutes, 44 seconds. Augusta Prep sophomore Abby Alexander had the fastest girls time at 19:32, but finished second at the Class AAA meet to Augusta Christian junior Sarah Madebach, who had the second-fastest time of the year with 19:33.
"This is real nice," Alexander said. "I always want for us to get recognition."
First-team member Annie Kim of Augusta Christian agreed the recognition was well-deserved.
"I don't think people realize how hard cross country is," she said. "It's a lot more than running. It's physical, emotional and mental."
Boys first-team member Havird Usry, a junior at Richmond Academy, said he is thankful.
"We can be just as good of athletes as football players," he said.
The boys first team also included Greenbrier's Tyler Warren, Augusta Prep's Ashwin Rajendra and Alex Crean, Evans' Drew Hess and Harlem's Kris Neal.
The girls first team also had Augusta Christian's Rebekah Madebach, Lakeside's Bailey Mahoney, Augusta Prep's Rebecca Shay and Richmond Academy's Dominique Ross.
Burley said he would like to award runners annually, and he's got support.
"The Augusta Striders indicated they would like to do this every time in the future," he said.
Reach Raymond Beasock at (706) 823-3221 or firstname.lastname@example.org.