The annual Clarke-Oconee Cross Country Meet will take place at Athens Academy Tuesday Oct 18th. The meet, now in its 4th year grew out of the long standing Athens City Meet, which had been contested annually since 1984. That meet was the brainchild of Harry Buford (Cedar Shoals) and Fred Black (Athens Academy) and was an extension of the long standing competition between Athens rivals Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central. Those two schools won 5 Boys State Championships in the 70’s and waged a very heated completion within their region in those years. The original “Athens City Meet” was held in 1984 with Athens Academy taking the boy’s team title and Cedar Shoals winning the girl’s race. The Spartans also won the next two and the Lady Jaguars won 6 more times before their streak ended. In the subsequent years Clarke Central has won nine boy’s titles while Athens Academy and Cedar Shoals both have captured six. In the girls meet the Lady Spartans have won fifteen titles including an incredible 13 straight from 1993 to 2005. Cedar Shoals has won the girl’s meet 8 times. As other Athens area schools joined the GHSA, the meet was expanded to include them and in 2008 it was expanded further to include all GHSA schools in Clarke and Oconee Counties. Oconee County High School won both divisions of the inaugural Clarke-Oconee Championships and Athens Christian has captured both titles each of the last two years. The individual champion has been a Clarke Central Gladiator ten times, and the girls champ has been a Lady Spartan twelve times. In 2010 Athens Christian had both the boys and girls champions as the brother-sister duo of Joshua and Destiny Jenkins ruled the day at the Athens YMCA. There have been 3 boys who won three titles, Paul Deaton of Athens Academy (’84, ’85, ’86), along with Brandon Griffin (’91, ’92, ’93) and Alan Hendrick (’96, ’97, ’98) both of Clarke Central. Two girls, Kristin Austin of Athens Academy (’96-’99) and Whitney Bishoff of Athens Christian (’04-’07) have won 4 straight titles.
The Meet Schedule will be as follows:
4:15 MS Races (Boys with Girls starting at 4:23)
5:00 Varsity Boys
5:30 Varsity Girls
6:00 Junior Varsity Boys and Girls
This year’s races should be very competitive in both divisions.
In the boy’s meet Athens Christian looks to defend their title lead by Josiah Jenkins, Will Hayes and Morgan Bishoff. The Eagles are currently ranked 5th in Class A and have posted some impressive times this year., and recently finished second at the Ponte Vedra Invitational in Jacksonville after winning several local meets.
Athens Academy, now ranked 6th in Class A, has come on strong in the past month, winning their division at the Aubrae Gunderson Invitational in Conyers and placing well at the very competitive Wesleyan Invitational as well. They are led by Henry Dwyer, who has won the last five races he has run and just set the Athens Academy 5k school record with his 16:17.94 performance winning the Wesleyan race on October 1st. Following Dwyer the Spartans send junior Kurt Crymes and freshman Adam Hearn who have both posted impressive finishes this season.
Oconee County has enjoyed success of late with a second place finish in Conyers and ran well at the Asics Invitational this past weekend. The top competitors for the Warriors are Wake Roberds, who posted a season best 17:06 at Asics, and John Isaac Smith who regularly lead the pack which is closely followed by Palmer Hill, Ben Wilde, Marshall Reed and Zack Willis.
North Oconee has been led all year by freshman Cole Thornton, who is coming off a season best race at the Golden Eagle Invitational held at Nash Farms in Hampton, where he finished 8th in 17:39. At that meet Jason Wright was just behind Thornton, earning a 10th place finish in 17:42 and that one two punch led the Titans to an impressive 2nd place team finish. Also placing well for North Oconee were Scott Bowden and Preston Devaney. The Titans have been ranked 4th in Class AA for most of the season.
Prince Avenue has run mostly local meets and has been consistently led by senior Jared Bailey who seems to be finding his from after a strong race at Athens Academy last week where he finished 5th overall in his best time on that course in over two years.
The Gladiators of Clarke Central are led by junior Jacob Cona who posted a season best 17:32 at the Eagle Run at East Jackson. He has been followed fellow junior David Fisher and senior Curtis Williams who also posted season bests at that meet.
The Jaguars of Cedar Shoals have been led by Maurice Stephens, who registered a top 10 finish at Athens Academy last week and Namdi Van Dum Suln who had a season best in Conyers two weeks ago. Also running well helping the Jags to their fastest team time in a decade have been Amos Chumba, Kyle Bradley, Jordan Coleman, Jay Morris, and Gerry Mattocks.
The Girls race should be wide open for both the individual and team titles as ACS looks to win their 3rd straight and it appears as if defending champ Destiny Jenkins will not compete due to injury.
The Lady Eagles of ACS have been running well despite missing Jenkins, who has been out all fall. Taking up the lead role has been senior Bryanne Acker who has been a top finisher for ACS throughout her career. She has regularly been joined at the front of the pack by sophomore Taylor Noggle and freshman Elizabeth Gunter.
The Lady Spartans have been steadily progressing, earning several strong finishes in competitive meets in the last few weeks. They are led by juniors Caroline Laboon and MacKinsey Cole who are followed by a tight pack which includes several new members to the team and is anchored their lone senior Deeva Desai.
The Lady Warriors have enjoyed recent success as well, running well at Conyers and the Asics meet. They are led by Bethany Walshe who looks to be a favorite to win the individual title after posting an impressive time of 19:53 finishing 9th at Asics on Oct 8th. She is followed by a strong pack led by Maria Kriesel and Sydney Brady.
The Lady Titans have been led all season by Sophomore sensation Olivia Pigg who should challenge Walshe as she posted a 19:53 of her own at Nash Farms also on the 8th! She is following by fellow sophomore Emily Measel and freshman Emma Lowring who both posted season bests at the meet in Hampton last weekend.
The Lady Glads of Clarke Central are led by sophomore Gabrielle Saupe and Senior Katie Rosemond who have run very consistently this season.
The Cedar Shoals Lady Jags are led by senior Amber White who is coming off a season best run of 21:57 at the Gunderson Invitational in Conyers where she finished 3rd in the Red Division leading her team to a 6th place finish. Along with White, Erica Carlton, Shamona Brown, Anna Schramski, Rileigh Gamboa, Anise Crane, Brenda Lopez, and Maggie Bergmann have finished the last two meets with the fastest overall team time in the last 10 years.
The MS races should also be exciting as there will 9 local schools participating, marking the first time since the Clarke-Oconee meet started that the two Oconee County School District teams will compete at full strength.
Malcolm Bridge 8th Grader Thomas Moore has run well lately winning at NOHS and Athens Academy in the last two weeks. Followed by teammates Zach Lomonaco, Anthony Potts, Matthew Miller, and Weston Bell, Moore has led MBMS to 4 first place team finishes this year. The girls have won twice this year and are led by Amelia Veal, Hollis Brown.
Athens Academy will counter with the trio of Rob Clements, Thomas Suarez and Alex Billmayer (5th in 2010), who have finished in the top 10 in every race this season leading the Spartans to several victories. The Lady Spartans have finished first or second in every meet thus far. They are led by a duo of 7th graders, Emily Ballard-Myer and Emily Doherty, who are followed by a large pack to round out their scoring.
The Oconee MS teams are led by Michael Hans and Caroline Ferguson
St Joseph’s School ‘s girls should compete well with front runner Mary Glassman in the hunt for the individual title.
Clarke Middle does not have a classic lead runner but will be in the hunt with a tight pack led by Allie Dominicalli (4th in 2010) and Ruth Barrow (2nd in 2010). The boys are led by Marco Newman.
Denise Junta looks to be the top threat from Burney-Harris-Lyons
Harper and Rachel Sigler, from Oconee County, will run unattached. Rachel has won this event for the last three years. Harper ran in 2009 finishing 5th but did not compete last fall.