The Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational (Preview)
Marist School looks forward to hosting thirty-three schools this coming Saturdayfor the 20th edition of the Double Dip Invitational. The course will be tough, the competition fierce, the awards top notch, and early forecasts suggest the weather will be relatively cool with low humidity. Plan to arrive early, and consider carpooling or other alternatives provided on the meet page. Meet day shirts and a full line of concessions will be available to runners and fans. Admission & parking are free. Follow @MaristDistance on Twitter for live updates on race day.
If you are in the mix to win Double Dip individually, chances are you're in the mix to go to either the Foot Locker Finals or NXN. Just in the last three years we've seen 8 FLN and NXN finalists emerge - Ilse (Marist, NXN), Pittman (Marist, NXN), Billings (Northview, FLN), Hurley (FCS, FLN), Gibbons (Winter Park, NXN), Tripodi (Lovett, NXN), Carnahan (South Forsyth, FLN), Block (Athens Academy, FLN).
Last year the Milton girls lowered the course record for team average to 20:08, and the Marist boys did the same with an average of 16:43. Sam Bowers, the Milton senior, set the record for the current course setup at 16:13 in 2016. Lindsay Billings, now at Duke, set the course record of 18:16 in 2015.
Coach Roy Benson
The Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational is named in honor of the legendary coach, Roy Benson. He coached at the University of Florida from 1969 to 1979 as the head cross country coach for seven years and head track and field coach for three years. Coach Benson was a senior contributor to Running Times magazine for 25 years, and founded and directed the Smoky Mountain Running Camp for 40 years. From 1993 to 2008, Coach Benson served as a community coach at Marist, where his girls and boys teams won sixteen state championships in cross country, and individual runners won a total of twenty state titles in cross country and track. He is now semi-retired on Amelia Island, Florida, where he serves as volunteer head cross country coach at Fernandina Beach High School. Coach Benson will be in attendance this Saturday.
An up to date course preview can be seen here:
The course has been the same since 2013 and is 4920m. It will begin with our standard 800m grassy loop before crossing a bridge and entering the new trails; note, these are the only two real choke points on the entire course (300m in and we widened that turn significantly and 800m in, the bridge crossing). We will follow the new trail up a medium sized hill and down on some crushed gravel paths. We will go straight through the new trails and fields and around some mulchy trails to our 800m loop around the mile mark. It is relatively wide, has mulch put down and contains a medium sized but very steep hill (it is imperative that you inform your runners of this hill and that they are very careful on the descent). You will pop out of the woods and return on the exact same path back to the main field. A half perimeter of the front field will bring you to the 2m and the traditional Double Dip hills. The traditional trail will bring you back to the main field and straight into the finish chute lined with screaming fans.
Girls' Team Race:
Marist School - (Atlanta, GA) (#1 4A) The 9-time defending AAAA state champions haven't won Double Dip since 2014, finishing behind Milton and Winter Park (FL) last year and as runner-up to Winter Park in 2015. Experience and depth will be the keys to success this Saturday, as the War Eagles return 19 of their top 22 girls from a year ago, including 5 from the top 7. Captain, Josie Wirtz,has consistently been one of the top runners in the state her entire high school career. Kathleen Maley has become a top runner in her own right. Captain, Kiki Popescu, will miss the meet for the ACT, but Annie D'Amaro, who emerged this summer as a solid #4, will race for the first time this fall. Kathleen Schellman, who had 5:21/11:26 track season bests, ran with newcomer, LJ Watson, at Battle of Atlanta. Olivia Baljet (5:28/11:33) has recovered from an injury in the spring and is running well. Senior, Katie Hartigan, will make her first appearance with the varsity this year after winning the JV race at Battle of Atlanta. The War Eagles delivered at their first meet, Battle of Atlanta, winning by 48 points.
Niceville - (Niceville, FL) (#1 FL 3A) Niceville won their first state title in cross country in 21 years last year with lots of speed and overwhelming depth. At the NXN SE meet Niceville finished 4th. They are once again ranked first in AAA in Florida. Dyestat has Niceville as a Southeast team to watch, and Tully Runners have them as a team to watch as well. Coach Jamie LaFollette said, "While the girls team was very strong last year, we have the potential to be even better if we are able to stay healthy and keep the big picture in mind." Niceville dominated the Pace Patriot Invitational last weekend with 21 points. If the results of one race can paint the picture, Lillian Holtery might be the latest freshman phenom after winning her first race by half a minute. Hannah Schneidewind and Ally Woodard are seniors with experience and speed. Ciara Coger and Jayden Horne were both near Schneidewind in the first race. Look for Erin Eubanks and Clara Beth LaFollette to bring in the pack for Niceville.
South Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#1 7A) It could be said that Forsyth County is the hotbed of cross country in the state of Georgia now, and the South Forsyth girls are a big part of the reason why. The defending AAAAAAA state champions return a ton of talent, and Dyestat has them as a team to watch in the Southeast. Unfortunately, this Saturday they will be without the services of their team leader, Kaylee DuPont, which will test their depth. Coach Nick Wansley says "the training is going well with the girls and they have their sights set on doing well this season again." Caroline Patterson, Madelynne Cadeau, and Aleesa de Castro all had amazing races at the Lambert River run. Sophia Baker was a strong 6th at the Pickens Preview. They will need to freshmen Emma O'Connor, Katelyn McLean, and Page Sobczak to step up to give them a chance at victory at Double Dip. South Forsyth has been in the top 5 as a team each of the last three years at Double Dip. They easily won both the Pickens Preview and the Lambert River Run to open the season.
Woodland - (Cartersville, GA) (#2 5A) Up-and-coming Woodland is now the defending state champion team in AAAAA. The young team returns almost everyone this year, and they're off to a good start. Coach Matthew Landolt says, "Woodland is very excited to compete in the Double Dip Invitational for our first time in our school history. The Double Dip is a challenging course and the competition is incredible. The girls had a good first race but look forward to a hilly course where they tend to excel. If we race well, I believe we can finish in the top 5." We believe he is right. Carli Clymer and Angela Cochran are a very good 1-2 punch. Baylee Evans, McKenna Trapheagen, and Cheyenne Spinks were all at20:00 or below on the course at Blastow. Lindsay Scifers shows the team's depth as an incredible #6. Sophomore, Mackenzie Stephenson, rounds out the top 7. The girls finished 4th in a strong field at Bob Blastow, only 23 points out of 1st.
Boys' Team Race:
Collins Hill - (Suwanee, GA) We left Collins Hill off the preview last year, and they ended up easily taking 3rd place in the race. Not this year. Although they will be without a few of their key runners, we believe Collins Hill will be in the mix for a podium spot at Double Dip. Coach Andrew Hudson said, "Kai Brickey and Anthony Urmetz should certainly contend for top 10 individual spots as both are running on par or slightly ahead of Merrick Rizzo who placed 7th last year." We agree with him - Brickey and Urmetz led the way for Collins Hill in their team victory on the extremely difficult course at Wesleyan. Depending on who lines up for the Eagles will determine how well they can do, but Coach Hudson hopes they will be in the top 5 this weekend.
Marist - (Atlanta, GA) (#1 4A) The AAAA state runner-up is poised to have a great race on their home course. Last year the War Eagles set the course record for team average (16:43), while placing four boys in the top eight and five in the top 14. The boys will start six seniors and a junior, showing great experience. Leif Andersen, the lone junior, the number one runner on the team, closed hard in the last mile at Battle of Atlanta to take 4th place. Seniors William O'Rielly, Knox Pittman, and David Reteneller have all been racing on the big stage for years now. Any one of them could challenge to be the top finisher for the team. The emergence of senior, Nathan Haileyesus, has given this team a chance to be great. Jack Maley, another senior, looks to close the gap to Haileyesus this week. Senior, Jeremy Benson, won the JV race at the Battle of Atlanta to earn a spot in the varsity lineup. Marist ran a hard last mile at BoA to place 5 boys in the top 10, a 29 second 1-5 split, and a 137 point victory. They are currently a team to watch in the Southeast, according to Dyestat.
Niceville - (Niceville, FL) (#3 FL 3A) Ranked #3 in Florida's AAA, Niceville returns a young group with a 23 second 1-5 split. They return ten of their top 12 from last year. Coach LaFollette says, " If one of the boys can step up and be a strong number one I think we have a shot at being on the podium in November." The senior, Jeremiah Dotter, ran a solid 17:31 on a tough course in Florida this past Saturday to finish 2nd. Dane Dickerson and Gabe Bohler finished with 15 seconds of Dotter to take 3rd and 4th. Another senior, Jack Johnson, was also under 18 minutes with a 7th place finish. Look for either Payton Watson or Andy Holtery to round out the top 5 for the Eagles. Jake Dever should be the 7th man for Niceville. The team won the race last weekend in a close battle with Fort Walton Beach, 30-42.
South Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#5 7A) The War Eagles opened up with an easy victory at the Pickens Preview, followed by a close 2nd to the highly ranked team from Lambert, 41-51, at the Lambert River Run. But, Double Dip will be a tough challenge for South Forsyth, as Coach Wansley says, "unfortunately, we are going to be decimated by the ACT next week. On the boys, we will have about 4 of our top 7 out. Our top 3 boys (Mikey Patterson, Sean Catania, and Kedar Malapati) will be there and I know they are looking to run hard against the tough competition that is always at Double Dip. We love the challenge of the course and the runners are always excited to go." We'll look to see if South Forsyth's team depth can bring them to a podium finish.
Other teams to watch:
Lakeside - 6th in the big race at Bob Blastow. Look for Jake Tubesing to lead the way.
Sequoyah - 2nd at the Hoya 2 Mile Invitational. Placed 4th out of 22 teams at Jekyll Island. Coach Adams says, "(they) are looking forward to getting state qualifier Bradshaw Lathbury back from injury this week." Kameron Scofield is a strong runner.
River Ridge - 2nd at Ridge Ferry. Coach Hooper says, "River Ridge has a solid core of runners with mix of veteran runners such as Rob Zell (senior), Alex Hewgley (senior), David Crow (sophomore) and freshmen."
Super 14 Boys
Leif Andersen (4:19/9:14) - The Marist junior was AAAA state champion in the 1600m last spring, finished as state runner-up in the 3200m, and placed 3rd in the AAAA state cross country meet. Last year he finished 3rd at Double Dip. He opened his fall campaign with a 4th place finish at the Battle of Atlanta.
Kai Brickey (4:31/9:57) - The Collins Hill senior finished 19th last year at Double Dip and 39th in the big race at the GHSA state championships. Kai opened his season impressively with a win at the Wesleyan Varsity Meet #1 in 17:28, on a very tough course.
Sean Catania (4:35/10:15) - The junior from South Forsyth has had a strong opening to his season, placing 4th at the Pickens Preview and 6th at the Lambert River Run. Last year Sean placed 22nd at Double Dip.
James Cragin (4:20/9:20) - The senior from Archer has come on strong in the last year to become one of the best distance runners in the state. He opened his season with an impressive 3rd place finish at the Battle of Atlanta in 16:23. This will be his first time running Double Dip.
Jallah Galimah (4:20/9:35) - The Heritage (Conyers) senior has not raced yet this cross country season, but last spring he finished 6th in the 800m and 7th in the 1600m at the state championships. Last fall he finished in the top 10 at six different cross country meets.
Nathan Haileyesus (2:03/4:41) - After a great summer, the Marist senior has emerged as the guy to replace Quinn Burden in the top 5. He nearly equaled his cross country PR on a tough Nash Farm course, finishing 9th.
Hayden Hasberger (4:26/9:43) - We can't find any results for the Northgate senior this year, but Hayden finished in the top 20 at state last year, and was a top 10 finisher at Double Dip as well.
Griffin McCauley (4:27/9:44) - The Paideia senior was "A private" state champion in the 3200m and state runner-up in the 1600m. He was also state champion in cross country. Griffin opened the season with a 12th place finish at the Battle of Atlanta. Last weekend he took third at the Starrs Mill Panther XC meet.
William O'Rielly (4:27/ 9:41) - The Marist senior has come into his own in the last year, becoming one of the top returners for the team. William placed 5th at the Battle of Atlanta to open his season. Last year he was 8th at Double Dip and placed 7th at the Georgia Meet of Champions.
Michael Patterson - (4:38/10:03) - The sophomore from South Forsyth only finished 33rd at last year's double dip, but had a great spring, and has established himself as the team's #1 runner. This year he opened with a 3rd place finish at the Pickens Preview, followed by a 5th place finish at Lambert River Run.
Knox Pittman (1:55/4:18) - The Marist senior was the state runner-up in AAAA for the 1600m in the spring. Last year he finished 14th at Double Dip, but came on strong to finish in the top 10 at both state and the Meet of Champions. Knox opened the season with a 6th place finish at the Battle of Atlanta.
David Reteneller (4:38/9:38) - The Marist senior sustained an injury just before the state cross country meet, and then a separate one at the Coaches Invitational. He's healthy now and very talented. David finished in the top 10 at four major invites last fall, including a 5th place finish at Double Dip.
Anthony Urmetz (4:28/9:42) - Double Dip is the favorite Course for the Collins Hill senior, who placed 11th last year in a time of 16:50. Anthony opened the season on the tough Wesleyan course with a 3rd place finish in 18:02.
Robert Zell (4:42/9:44) - The River Ridge senior broke 16 for the first time at Ridge Ferry, placing 3rd. His results at Berry, 13th in 16:42, suggest he is ready to roll this season.
Super 14 Girls
Jackie Addy (2:18/5:07) - The Holy Innocents junior finished 3rd in the 800m and 4th in the 1600m in "A private" at the GHSA state championships. She was 5th at the state cross country meet, and won the JV race at Double Dip last year. Jackie has not raced the 5k this year, but won the 3k at Battle of Atlanta by nearly 2.5 minutes.
Faith Bobak (5:16/11:03) - The Pickens County sophomore placed 5th in the 3200m at State last year and followed it up with a 5th place showing at the Meet of Champions. She was 11th in cross country while running for Milton. Faith placed 7th at Double Dip last year, and has placed 2nd at both Pickens Preview and Ridge Ferry to open her season this year.
Madelynne Cadeau - We don't have a lot to go on with this South Forsyth sophomore, but she appears to be very good. Madelynne placed 4th at the Pickens Preview, and was 3rd at the Lambert River Run.
Carli Clymer (5:10/11:24) - The Woodland sophomore finished 5th in the AAAAA GHSA State Cross Championships last fall. Carli also finished 5th in the big race at Bob Blastow with a time of 19:13. This will be her first time running Double Dip.
Angela Cochran - Another Woodland sophomore, Angela does not run track, but she's mirrored her teammate, Clymer, in her cross country races. She finished 8th at state in cross country last year, and was 8th again at Bob Blastow to open up her season this year.
Lillian Holtery (2:22/5:17) - The freshman from Niceville, FL has only run one high school cross country race, but she dominated the Pace Patriot Invitational, winning by 32 seconds.
Kathleen Maley (2:19/5:07) - The Marist junior came on strong at the end of last cross country season and hasn't looked back. She placed 3rd at the AAAA state cross country championships before winning her first state title in 1600m this past spring. Kathleen finished in 20th place at Double Dip last year, and looks to improve on that performance. She finished in 8th place at the Battle of Atlanta to open her season.
Frankie Muldoon - The Dawson county junior finished in 17th place at Double Dip last year. She doesn't run track, but caught our eye already this fall with an impressive win at the War Eagle Invitational in Chestatee.
Caroline Patterson (5:17/11:33) - The sophomore from South Forsyth did not run with her team at Double Dip last year. After a 10th place finish at the Pickens Preview, Caroline came on strong to win the Lambert River Run.
Hannah Schneidewind (5:03/10:48) - The senior from Niceville, FL was the top finisher for her AAA state champion team last fall. She opened up her season finishing 3rd at the Pace Patriot Invitational this past weekend.
Sophia West (5:06/11:05) - The Paideia senior finished 5th in the 1600m and state runner-up in the 3200m this past spring in "A private." She opened her season with a 7th place finish at Battle of Atlanta, and finished 6th this past weekend at Starrs Mill. This will be her first race at Double Dip.
Josie Wirtz (5:05/10:54) - Josie, a senior at Marist, is a four time state champion in cross country and track, winning both cross country and the 3200m this past year. She's finished 7th at Double Dip twice, and was 6th last year. After a strong opener finishing 2nd at Battle of Atlanta, this could be her year to win on the home course.
Ally Woodard (5:08/11:26) - A senior at Niceville (FL), Ally is certainly a big threat to finish strong this year at Double Dip. We haven't seen her race this year yet, but hope to see her in Atlanta this week.
Beining Xiao (5:19/11:16) - The Chamblee senior finished 4th in the 3200m last year at the AAAAA state championships. Last year she finished 9th at Double Dip. She's had an incredible start to the fall, dominating the Kosh Classic, and finishing 2nd at the Lambert River Run.