2015 Fulton County Schools Cross Country Championships Preview

by Coach Andy Carr

For the 4th year in a row, Milton High School will host the Fulton County Schools Cross Country Championships on one of the state's toughest cross country courses, this Saturday, 7:45am.

Course map & video is here: http://miltonxc.org/ourtrail/

All-Time course records (since 2005):

Boys: Sid Vaughn, Lakeside-Evans, 2011, 17:30

Girls: Lindsay Billings, Northview, 2014, 18:43

New this year is the inclusion of private schools that are in Fulton County that do not have an area or championship meet to attend. Prior to this year, the meet was for Fulton County public schools only.

Boys Team Race:

The hosts Eagles of Milton are experiencing their best season ever (Milton opened in 1921 and has never won a Georgia state title in cross country) and bring their #1 All-Class ranking into the meet after a runner-up finish at the Knights Crossing Invitational in Virginia without running top-runner senior Jack Bluth & senior captain Clay Marshall. The Eagles dispatched 23 schools from Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina & Virginia, losing only to southeast region power Broughton (NC) and are an overwhelming favorite to win their 6th title in the last 12 years. The battle for the runner-up spot maybe the best as 5A Cambridge will be hard-pressed by 3A Blessed Trinity. The Bears (ranked 7th in 5A) will need their front runners to hold-off a deeper Titans team (ranked #1 in 3A). North Fulton county teams will battle for the final team trophy with Roswell, Johns Creek & Alpharetta all in the mix.

Boys Individuals to Watch:

Jack Bluth- the senior Milton Eagle is the defending champion and has run the 4th (17:36) & 7th fastest times on the tough Milton course. Bluth has not raced since August 29th at Early Bird where he won in 15:34. If conditions are right the course record may fall.

Sam Bowers-Milton's top-sophomore was a top-3 finisher in 2014 as a freshman and has been knocking on the door of running sub-16 (16:06 at Early Bird for 4th). Bowers is the 7th fastest performer ever on the course (17:47) and will be tough to beat at home.

Bjorn Leicher-the Cambridge senior is rounding into great shape with strong finishes at Early Bird & Carrollton Ortho. He is the most experienced non-Milton runner on the course and was been close to breaking 18 last year. He has raced the course four times and is quite familiar with its technicalities.

Robby Gipsum-Blessed Trinity's top-runner was 7th at Berry (16:45) and should be a top-5 contender here

Matt McGorrey-the Milton senior captain is better known for his races on the flat (16:16 at Early Bird & 16:26 at Knights Crossing) course but shouldn't be counted out for a top-5 finish.

Others: Any of Milton's #4-7 runners, KJ Hirschi & Zach Morgan (Cambridge), Brennan Silliman (Woodward).

Girls Team Race:

Just as Marist Double Dip had last week, the Fulton County meet counters with many ranked girls teams with not a clear favorite with many different classes represented. Defending champions Northview (ranked 6th in 6A) will have their hands full with hosts Milton (ranked 3rd in 6A), 2A Lovett (ranked #1 in 2A) & Landmark Christian (ranked #1 in 1A-Private). The Titans of Northview have yet to show their championship form (7th at Marist Double Dip) and have not been at full-strength but no matter the situation their presence in a meet must be taken seriously. The Lady Eagles of Milton continue to show strength & depth with a solid runner-up to Blacksburg (VA), the 7th place team at NXN in 2014, last week at Knights Crossing. Being at home is a big advantage for Milton and the desire to match the boy's team is also a motivating factor. 2A Lovett was 5th at Double Dip and with their strong front runners will help them contend for the top spot. Also scheduled to run is #1 ranked 1A power Landmark Christian. This will be their first visit to the tough Milton course but bring a strong top-3 to match any team's depth. If they can have a solid 5th runner they can steal the title.

Girls Individuals to Watch:

Lindsay Billings-the senior & course record holder from Northview has made it no secret she loves the Milton course and will attack it again one last time. Her 18:43 last year was a performance for the ages and her win at Double Dip shows she is ready for anything and anyone.

Nicole Fegans-the junior from Landmark Christian will be a factor even though she has never seen the severity of the Milton course. She has one of the fastest times run this season in the state and will be looking for a win over a tough field.

Serena Tripodi-the Lovett junior is strong on all types of courses and will again have to deal with a tough course and a stacked field. Her 20:09 at Kosh Classic, which has a very similar course difficulty as Milton, makes her a solid favorite. Tripodi was 3rd at Berry & 4th at Double Dip.

Mary Clare Solomon-Blessed Trinity's top runner has had a great early senior season with her 2nd at Berry besting Lovett's Tripodi. She has already raced Landmark Christian and was 3rd at the Mercy Invite last month.

Marie Repasy & Riley Burr-the Milton duo needs to be included here. Repasy, a junior, 4th at Early Bird, bested Burr at the Milton time trial by more than 20 seconds in August running the 3rd fastest time by a Milton runner on the course (21:14) and just ran a personal best 19:12 for 11th at Knights Crossing. Burr, a senior and now a Furman commit, just recently broke 19 minutes (18:42 at Knights Crossing for 6th place) which was a 28-second personal best and was 3rd at Early Bird in 19:16.

Others: Sarah & Katharine Foreman (Landmark Christian), Haley Hooper (Lovett)

Overall Program Award:

Unique to this meet, the Best Overall Program Award is given to the school with top-team results in all divisions contested at the meet. A combination of open, JV and Varsity team scores, both girls & boys, determine the award. Host Milton is the 5-time defending champions & has won the award 8 times in the last 11 years.