Schools from six states converge on the Furman University Golf Course this weekend for the 43rd running of the Gene Mullin/Furman Univ Invite in Greenville, SC. Top-programs from Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky & Florida are expected to race on the storied venue as they tune-up for the late-season push towards their respective state meets.
Two programs from Georgia are expected to control the team race as #3 ranked All-Class Milton looks to defend its title and win their 3rd in a row. The 6A school is coming off a hard-fought win at the Wingfoot XC Classic 2 weeks ago and is looking for more favorable conditions to race in this weekend. Georgia 5A power Forsyth Central (ranked 2ndin Class 5A) looks to be the biggest challenger to the Eagles. Finishing 2nd at Early Bird to Milton and running a very fast average, their 4th place finish at Wingfoot shows they are strong on tough courses & conditions as well. Wando HS (Mt Pleasant, SC) will look to battle for a top-3 team spot as their top-3 individuals will help their team score with them running up near the front of the pack. Other teams to watch: Asheville (NC), North Oconee (GA), Grayson (GA)
With six already under 16-minutes this season, the race up front looks to be a good one! Milton (GA) senior Jack Bluth is coming off an impressive win at Wingfoot and has run the fastest time in the field (15:34). Bluth is undefeated this season with wins at Early Bird, Fulton County & Wingfoot. Challenging Bluth will North Oconee's (GA) Thomas Moore who is coming off of two big wins at the Atlanta Classic & the Mountain Invitational where he ran his best time this season just last week (15:38). The battle will be tight between Jonathan Helton of Centennial (TN), Noah Shore of Asheville (NC), Sean Parker of Pickens (GA) & Andrew Emery of South Aiken (SC) as all have run between 15:53-15:55 and will be in the mix for the win. Others to watch include: Sam Bowers of Milton (GA), Davis Bove of Centennial (TN), Colt Griffith of Woodmont (TN) along with Grayson's (GA) top-2 runners & the top-3 runners from Wando (SC).
The Lady Eagles of Milton (GA) will also be looking to defend their title as Georgia schools look to be the strength of the field. Milton is coming off a strong 3rd place at Wingfoot running without their top-runner Riley Burr. The Lady Eagles are ranked 4th-All Class in Georgia and will have to deal with the Lady Hoyas of Harrison (GA). The Cobb County champions are ranked 8th in 6A and are always a threat to be near the front and after a runner-up finish at Alligator Lake in Florida will be in the mix for the title. Georgia 1A top-ranked Hebron Christian, which won the small school race at the Jesse Owens (AL) Invite will be a factor in the top-3 with a strong team pack that can run together. Other teams to watch: River Bluff (SC), St Joseph's (SC) & North Oconee (NC).
With three individuals in the field that have gone sub-19 & the defending champion returning, the race upfront looks to be a good one. Furman-commit & Milton senior Riley Burr, who has run the fastest time in the field this season (18:42 for 6th at Knights Crossing Invite in Virginia), will have her hands full with Emma DeRoberts of Woodmont (SC) who is coming off of 3 wins in a row including a race on Tuesday! Her 18:43 came at the Fight Like Wyatt Invite and she has won 4 races already in 2015. Grayson's (GA) Yanely Gomez is coming off a 4th place finish at the Gwinnett County Championships and her 18:45 was run at the Saucony Kickoff meet in Savannah. Gomez was also runner-up at Mizuno Covered Bridge. Not to be counted out is Anna Marian Block of Athens Academy (GA). The defending champion has not raced in a month and has only raced three times this season with a win at the Winder-Barrow Invite in her last effort. Others to watch: Ralene Kwiatkowski of Carolina Day School (NC), Marie Repasy & Taylor Cushman of Milton (GA) & Morgan Moseley of JL Mann (SC).