(photos courtesy of Milton XC)
The Milton HS cross country teams traveled to Whitesburg, GA (site of one of the fastest & flattest courses in the state) and took full advantage of the cooler temps & lower humidity, setting many all-time performances, capturing both Varsity team titles at Bob Blastow Early Bird.
The Milton Eagles (currently ranked 5th in the southeast USA), placed all-five of their team scorers in the top-16 overall places including 3 finishers in the top-4 overall to capture the meet title. Milton (1st-30 pts) easily triumphed over 15 scoring schools with Pope (2nd-85 pts) and cross-town rival Cambridge (3rd-101 pts) closest to the Eagles. The average team time (15:34) of Milton's top-5 finishers over the 5K course also set a school mark. Leading the way was senior Sam Bowers (1st-15:00). The defending state champ Bowers passed race leader & senior teammate Nicholas Yanek (2nd-15:01) in the last 200 meters of the race to capture the race victory.
Bowers & Yanek both broke the current school record of 15:23 (set by Bowers in 2016) and bested the school record of 15:01 set by Ian Dickinson in 1999 at the "old" Milton High School. Not to be outdone, fellow senior Michael Malkowski (4th-15:41) improved on his personal best by 3 seconds and was followed by senior Ryan Beitzell (9th-15:57) and junior Luke Bonneville (16th-16:09) both recording personal bests. Nick Nyman of Starrs Mill broke up a Milton sweep of the top 5 places placing 3rd at 15:32.
The Lady Eagles literally rose to the challenge and came from behind to capture the Bob Blastow Early Bird Girls title. Milton (1st-66 pts) actually tied for the team victory with McIntosh (2nd-66 pts) and had to go to the tie-breaker (6th runner to finish for each team, head-to-head comparison) and Milton's 6th runner, senior captain Jessie Barnes (25th-19:56) pushed Milton to the team win besting McIntosh's 6th finisher by 8 positions breaking the tie.. Harrison (3rd-81 pts) & Woodland-Cartersville (4th-89 pts) closely trailed in a very tight team race between these State contenders. Sophomore Abby Rindt (7th-19:17) & junior Taylor Cushman (9th-19:21) led the Milton effort as they moved steadily toward the front of the race as many runners faded past the 2-mile mark. Pushing the Lady Eagles to the meet win included strong late-race efforts from senior Annie Gallagher (14th-19:37) & junior Faith Wagner (15th-19:39) to out-place the Lady Chiefs of McIntosh's 2-4 runners.
Nicole Pachuta from Oconee County has began to realize the potential she displayed in Outdoor Track last Spring, besting the field at Blastow turning in a strong 18:18 performance taking the Overall win. Megan Uszynski of McIntosh HS was runnerup going 17:26 leading the Chiefs strong team outing. harrison had a pair of top 5 runners including: Kira Stanley (3rd-18:53) and Kayli Moody (4th-18:57). Carli Clymer of Woodland Carterville took 5th overall in 19:13 just edging Oconee's Caroline McArther by .06.