GHSA AAA State Meet Preview, will Westminster Sweep Again?

AAA Boys Team Race

This race, is a bit reminiscent of back in 2004/2005, when deep Oconee County squads (9-10 sub 18 guys), challenged private school power Westminster early in the season (while North Hall was getting better under the radar, a year away from contending). Nonetheless, at the AAA State meets, the Cats'  bested OC by 52/36 points and it didn't even look close. Yes, Dawson County, is in that same role now, can they overcome the mystique and tradition of having bested Westminster's average time at Coach Wood (though in different races)  The Tigers will need their best race of the Fall from their 1-6 guys, to push Westminster to the brink. Running a virtual meet, using current season average (instead of Current BEST) and only October races in a Dual meet, Westminster wins by 4 points. Dawson County, can't use hill training as an excuse (1365 feet Elevation there) and Westminster trains on their very difficult Kosh Course and runs well at Carrollton. It will come down to experience, running smart and who is the toughest squad. Or, like 2004/2005, may not be close..

Look for North Hall to make a real race of it for the title, as Dawson only bested them by 3 points at 7-AAA. The Trojans have a fine program, that became a AAA power in 2006, dating back to that infamous 'Freight Train of Pain' squad led by Bert Harrison, that overthrew ruling Westminster off their proverbial AAA throne at State that Fall. 

There is quite a gap after these 3 teams, with the 4th and final team Podium spot fairly wide open. East Jackson could work their way up to 5th in the Final AAA Rankings of the season, after taking down Hart County, on their home course by 16 points. East Jackson's top 4 ran very well that day.. Do not count out private school powers, Lovett and Pace Academy. Jack Douglass of Pace is a firm contender to win the Individual title, and factor in big race experience, solid programs and tradition for both schools. Union County and Calhoun have shown flashes of potential this season, but are on the outside looking in for a Podium shot. 

Pre-State Rankings

Top Boys Individuals

Looking at races only the past 4 weeks (October) seems more logical and taking into account how top AAA runners have done approaching State. 2 of the top contenders are not strangers having went head to head twice this Fall. 

Shane Shelafoe vs Devan Crow is almost a toss up, with Shelafoe winning at Runners Fit Mountain Invite by 1.20 seconds. Jack Douglass from Pace Academy bettered Shane Shelafoe at Riverside Military Last Chance by :06. Will Wallace and Peter Huff of Westminster burned down a 16:03 and 16:21 at Wendys Invitational held on the Foot Locker South course. 

Lance Underwood from Union County posted a 16:06 at Mountain Invite. Frosh Andrew Jones of North Hall may be a factor with an October best of 16:18 at 7-AAA (Mountain course) and Jesse Martinez of Murray County has been one of the top runners in NW Georgia this Fall having a 16:33 at Sharptop. 

October Races Only

RANKTIMEATHLETE/TEAMGRADEMEET DATEPLACE
115:45.80
East Jackson High School
2019
215:47.90
North Hall
2019
316:03.56
Westminster School
2019
416:06.50
Union County HS
2018
516:18.20
North Hall
2021
616:19.45
Pace Academy
2018
716:21.37
Westminster School
2019
816:33.82
Murray County High School
2019
916:44.00
Dawson County
2020
1016:49.90
Dawson County
2019
1116:53.32
Westminster School
2020
1216:53.60
Dawson County
2018
1316:58.37
Long County HS
2018
1416:59.00
Greater Atlanta Christian
2018
1517:00.30
Hart County
2021


AAA Girls Team Race

Westminster's gals are primed to pour it on early during the race, and throughout, as the highest ranked small school All Classes at #8, is just too fast and deep to be challenged by any AAA squad. With an average time of 20:24 (very solid) at Coach Wood and (18:46 at Fast and Furious Asics), only a catastrophe, will keep the Lady Cats' from adding another title to their long, illustrious resume of excellence. C'mon man, 5 of their runners have the top 8 fastest times in October, and Delaney Graham, who has not ran in October, hopes to be back for the party... Saul Goodman (from Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad), advises to Plead No Contest on this one..lol

Lovett and Pace should be battling it out for 2nd on the Podium. Lovett had their best showing of the season at Coach Wood with a team average of 21:17 followed at Region in 21:06. But, Pace Academy rose to the occasion at 5-AAA, beating the Lady Lions by 3 points with a 21:02 avg. Its a 'u pickem' between the 2 schools at Carrollton Saturday. 

Now factor in the northeast GA schools from Regions 7-AAA and 8-AAA to decide the final Podium spot.. Hart County is ranked #4 and may have the advantage after winning 8-AAA at a 'slower' Lamar Murphy course in 21:57. North Hall and Dawson County are no strangers, with North taking the win at 7-AAA with a team avg of 21:41, though Dawson was within striking distance of 8 points...Not sure what to make of the NW GA schools with rumors of 3 Mile and short fast layouts in that area. Bremen may have the advantage because of Grace Clements scoring low points. East Jackson welcomed back Sue Morales, as she looked refreshed at the 8-AAA Girls race, clocking a 19:39, lifting the Eagles to 2nd as a team, making them a contender for a top 10 finish at State. 


Top Individual Girls 

Sophomore Naima Turbes of Westminster, has enjoyed a 'breakout' season this Fall, challenging for the title at Wingfoot XC Classic, and winning at the fast and furious Alexander/Asics Invitational going 17:27. Turbes is the clearly the favorite to win her first GHSA Individual State meet title. 

So, who will be in the chase pack gunning for top 10 All-State squad honors? Add in Westminster's Bronte Bachetta (18:20pr), frosh Katherine Vucovich (19:09pr), Olivia Tordella (19:11pr) and maybe Delaney Graham (19:04sb). 

Frankie Muldoon from Dawson County had a swift race of 18:48 at Mountain Invite, Zoe Sanchez from Union County had a surprising performance at Mountain clocking a 19:03. Sue Morales of East Jackson is well rested and looked good at Region 8-AAA going 19:39 and Grace Clements from Bremen may be in the mix having many sub 20: performances.


5,000 Meter Run           (October races only)

RANKTIMEATHLETE/TEAMGRADEMEET DATEPLACE
117:27.53
Westminster School
2019
218:20.26
Westminster School
2018
318:48.30
Dawson County
2019
419:03.40
Union County HS
2020
519:09.14
Westminster School
2020
619:11.49
Westminster School
2021
719:39.41
East Jackson High School
2018
819:45.89
Westminster School
2019
919:57.00
Bremen High School
2018
1020:01.10
Hart County
2019
1120:04.49
Pace Academy
2020
1220:05.10
East Jackson High School
2021
1320:22.56
Pace Academy
2021
1420:29.47
Lovett
2018
1520:31.60
Pace Academy
2020
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