2012 XC Pre-Season Rankings - Boys 6A: by Coach Ronnie Brown
It's awfully close at the top between 4 teams who look to be the Fantastic Four as the season begins. Of course, lots could have happened over the summer so these are just guesses with a little bit of science applied and some input from a few coaches who chose to share their thoughts. But Milton, Marietta, Norcross and Walton seem to be the early favorites for November podium spots. Marietta gets the nod at the top (albeit by the slimmest of margins) because of their 6 guys who’ve run 17:46 or better at Carrollton, and their solid spring where all 7 returners ran track. Just a notch behind is Milton with a strong frontrunner in Nathan Riech, Norcross with two solid guys up front in Rehmann and Delguercio, and Walton with its Sullivan/Farmer/Torres combo. A hypothetical scoring of these teams had only 12 points separating 1st from 4th, so you could really line these four up in any order and not be too far off.
Peachtree Ridge, Collins Hill, Brookwood and Mill Creek create the next 4-pack. Brookwood in 6th, you say? Certainly looks weird since we're so used to seeing them at the top, and one would be crazy to think that they won't beg to differ with that ranking as the season progresses.
The State Championship trophy in the highest classification has been in Gwinnett County since 2000 – and 18 of the last 20 years – but it looks like there’s a very real chance the trophy could end up in Cobb or Fulton County this year.
5 Peachtree Ridge
7 Mill Creek
8 Collins Hill
9 Kennesaw Mountain
Watch list: Wheeler, North Gwinnett, Druid Hills
Marietta – Coach Coleman's Blue Devils are a senior-heavy group, comprising 6 of their top 7 on paper. Jake Bagwell has the best XC credentials, but Jaylen Ferguson and Ben Pleak are right there with him, with Pleak posting a 4:28/9:29 in the spring. Trager Kviten, Alexander Goolsby and Orlando Frazier offer solid support, while sophomore Jack Henderson ran a solid 10:01 in track. Team depth will be their friend in 2012. Opens at Kosh/Westminster on 8/25.
Milton – Like Marietta, 6 of the top 7 returnees (on paper) are seniors. They have their front-runner in Nathan Riech, Ryan Kelly solid in the #2 spot, and Miles Dayoub, Alex Marshall and Justin Thornsberry at 3-5. Milton also welcomes a strong freshman class and fortunately didn't suffer any top-10 transfer losses to the new Cambridge High School. The last time the Eagles stepped on the podium at State was 2000 when they finished 3rd, and they have their sights squarely set on being invited “inside the fences” again at Carrollton in 2012. Opens at Blastow Early Bird on 8/25.
Norcross – We're still getting used to thinking of Norcross as part of the Gwinnett powerhouses, but they proved last year (3rd at State) that they belong in that group. Seniors Arman Rehmann (4:29/9:28) and Nick Delguercio (4:25/9:47) are a formidable duo up front, and they have solid 3 and 4 spots with Sam Todd and Jacob Winters. Only the #5 spot is a question mark, although they have 3 solid folks who can go sub-18 at Carrollton. Like Marietta, depth will serve them well in 2012. Opens at Our Lady of Mercy on 8/25.
Walton – Coach Gower's Raiders may beg to differ with the argument that Peachtree Ridge has the best 1/2 punch in the state, as they counter with Brian Sullivan (4:17/9:44) and Kenan Farmer (4:20/9:19). Farmer in particular seemed to take his game to a new level in the spring. Just behind them is the solid RJ Torres. On paper, just over a minute elapses between their #3 and #s 4/5 spots, so they'll need to close that gap a bit to counter the depth of some of the other challengers. UGA on September 1st should provide a good glimpse as to how well they match up with their Lady Raider teammates for dual shots at state titles. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then UGA on 9/1.
Peachtree Ridge – With perhaps the best 1/2 combo in the state in senior Josh Brickell and junior Kevin Mills (4:23/9:24), the Lions only need to have their 3-5 spots step up to find real success. They have 4 guys who've run sub-18 Carrollton-equivalent times, and if 3 of those four can move to 17-low, they’ll have a shot at their second state title. Varsity opens at UGA on 9/1.
Brookwood – The Broncos will have to come up big to extend their streak to 4 state championships in a row. Coach Dehnke and crew graduated 6 of their top 7 from the 2011 season, yet still bring a solid class of juniors and seniors into 2012. Matthew McClintock should lead, but he'll need a good bit of help from a group of juniors who've seen limited action on the biggest stage. Smart money would not bet against them being very near the top come early November. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Carrollton on 9/15.
Mill Creek – 2nd place at the 2011 State Meet in many respects felt like a win to the Hawks, and they'll be looking to carry that momentum into the 2012 season. Coach Christie returns junior Eric Westog (part of the super-soph group from the spring) plus he gets the full-time services this year of Matt Tippins, who ran sparingly last fall as a permissive transfer. They'll get support at the 3-6 spots from Richard Fuller, Josh Arceneaux, Sven Hope and Tyler Woodrome. Woodrome shocked in the spring with a sub-1:54 (and a solid 4:33.9) and seems to have a knack for running big when it counts. Coach Christie's Hawks also carry with them the memory of their fallen former teammate Tajay Hoppines, who was lost in a recent tragic accident. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Berry on 9/8.
Collins Hill – The Eagles are very solid at their 1-4 spots, but will need somebody to step up big at #5 to have a podium shot. They should be fresh in November, with only five scheduled 5k races currently on their calendar. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Wesleyan on 9/15.
Kennesaw Mountain – The Mustangs return a solid group of junior and seniors. Andrew Maritim led last fall, but was out-of-action much of track season. Teammates Alex Dunlap and Turner Ozmer both posted 9:51's in the spring, while Taylor Cotton posted 4:30. All signs that they may be ready to up the ante this fall. On paper it looks like they won't have quite the depth of some of their competitors, but they could certainly make some noise if their top 5 perform consistently. Opens at Warpath on 9/15 (dual meet on 9/5).
Etowah – While lacking the superstar front-runner, the Eagles have 5 solid guys who've cracked 18:00 on the Carrollton course. Perhaps a little short on the depth-side, they appear (at least in mid-August) to lack the firepower to challenge for a podium spot, but they nonetheless should be a very solid team in 2012. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Berry on 9/8.
2012 XC Pre-Season Rankings - Girls 6A
Unlike the boys, the girls begin the 2012 season with a clear favorite in two-time defending champion Walton. Of course, predicting the November girls' outcome in mid-August is a little more of a wild card, since incoming freshmen can so often contribute to the success of the girls squads. In fact, Walton experienced that last year with 3 freshmen in the top 17 at State.
After Walton, the field bunches up a little bit, with a mixture of traditional powerhouses plus one refreshing south Georgia addition in Lowndes Co. Only 6 teams appear to be in a position to challenge for podium spots, as there seems to be a decent gap between Roswell at #6 and Centennial at #7. We’ll have a better picture, of course, in about 3 weeks, when we can throw away what’s “on paper” and look at real results.
Region 5 appears to be the "Region of Death" this year, with 4 of the top 6 teams residing there.
5 Peachtree Ridge
9 Johns Creek
Watch list: Kennesaw Mountain, North Gwinnett, Parkview
Walton – A win this year by the Lady Raiders – making it 3 in a row -- might entitle them to the “dynasty” label, although arguably they might already wear this crown with 6 prior state titles dating back to the late 1970’s. They return senior leader Alexa Womack, plus a trio of super sophomores in Sara Hardin, Avery Bussjager and Christie Sanders, all of whom finished in the top 17 at State last year. And they bring a support crew which gives them a lot of breathing room in case a teammate is off their game on a given Saturday. In 2010 they shocked by surprising…in 2011 they shocked by their dominance. Look for something special again this year by Coach Gower and his crew. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then UGA on 9/1.
Milton – The Lady Eagles look to pick up in 2012 where they left off last year, with sights set clearly on a podium spot in November and improving on their 4th place finish. They return their top 5 -- and 10 of their top 15 – and will have senior leadership that will serve them well. Annie Kelly should lead the crew, and will get strong support from Maddie Butzer, Blair Gelb, Olivia Koerner and Jacqueline Mahoney….they are VERY solid at the 1-5 spots. Kelly had a strong summer of training (partially out West) and should challenge for the individual title. Opens at Blastow Early Bird on 8/25.
Brookwood – Last year the Lady Broncos finished 3rd at State, and they return 4 of their top 5 finishers, losing only Caroline Kissel to graduation. Seniors Payton Wilson and Quandra Shanks should lead, with Shanks fresh off her outstanding 5:02.6 in the spring. Elyse Renshaw, Ashley Buda and Laurel Sumner can (or have) also run sub-21 at Carrollton, and will provide solid support to Coach Carter’s squad. Brookwood always seems to have plenty of depth, and this year appears to be no exception. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Carrollton on 9/15.
Woodstock – The top 5 finishers from last year’s 9th place State finish return, led by junior Morgan O’Toole and sophomore Alexandra Melehan. At the 3-5 spots on paper are Makensie Block, Rachel Steppe and Keaton Wallace, all of whom can post sub-21 Carrollton marks. Opens at Berry on 9/1.
Peachtree Ridge – The Lady Lions finished 7th at Carrollton in 2011, and they return 4 of their top 5 finishers from that squad. Addy Lippitt is solid up front, but is followed closely by Laurel Wilson, Paige Tucker and Lexy Shy. Caroline Wilson and Macey Raines also offer reliable support at the numbers 5 & 6 spots. Varsity opens at UGA on 9/1.
Roswell – With one of the best 1/2 punches in the state in Peyton Thomas (5:09/11:15) and Morgan Green (5:07), the Lady Hornets only need to close their spread to the #5 spot to be a real contender. They finished 8th at State last year and return their ENTIRE roster from that squad. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Covered Bridge on 9/8.
Centennial – Like Roswell, the Lady Knights return their entire 2011 11th place State line-up. Led by junior Haley McKay, they also have 5 runners who've gone 21:20 or better at Carrollton. Opens at Blastow Early Bird on 8/25.
Lowndes – A non-metro Atlanta team makes a rare appearance in the top-10, but the Lady Vikings appear to be the real deal. The finished a respectable 12th at State last year, and return their top 6 finishers there. Megan Charbeneau leads, and is backed up by a quality support crew. Unfortunately, we likely won't get to see them in action much against Metro schools, but they'll likely show up big in November. Unsure of season opener.
Johns Creek – Having Allie Buchalski up front means that effectively Coach Brock's Lady Gladiators will be scoring only 4 runners all season, as Buchalski will often have only 1 point by her name. But backing her up is a crew of sub-22:00 performers, including Molly Speese, Caroline Mock, Kaitlin Greenway and Courtney Enos. They drop off a bit at their #s 6/7 spots, so they'll need consistent performances by their main fivesome. Opens at Blastow Early Bird on 8/25.
Harrison – Coach Jason Scott's Lady Hoyas were hit hard by graduation in 2012, losing 4 of their top 7 from their squad that finished 2nd in 2011. But they have a nice nucleus of returners in Elyse Bray, Kennedy Sorge and Meaghan Kalafut. There are question marks after that but their 2011 depth should mean there is some good back-up waiting in the wings. Opens at Stage Races on 8/25, then Memphis Twilight on 9/1.
2012 Preseason 5A Boys: by Coach Matt King
This is a wide open classification and on paper most teams are very close. To rank the teams I used a spreadsheet with different equations to arrive at a team time (thanks to dataholic). I took into account team improvement from last year, 5K times, 32 times, 16 times, and used Coach Wood/Carrollton as the base course. As we start racing we will see who did their summers, new faces, and jumps.
1. McIntosh – returns a solid team with a new runner for their top 3
2. Lakeside-Evans – returns 5 XC state runners, has depth
3. Pope – returns a ton of runners and are healthy
4. Flowery Branch – looks good and won 4A last year
5. Union Grove – returns 3 from the top 10 at XC state
6. Lakeside-DeKalb – still has Song and Higgins, but needs replace a few
7. Riverwood – last year was 3rd in 3A and also has to replace a few
8. Starrs Mill – finished 9th last year, but returns a core group
9. Greenbrier – is helped by some depth
10. Winder Barrow – has some times for this summer, but did lose their number 1
Watch List:: Sequoyah, Creekview
2012 Pre-Season 5A Girls:
I used the same formula on the girls side as I did for the boys. As we start racing we will see who did their summers, new faces (especially freshman), and any jumps. After running my spreadsheet most the teams are only separated by a few seconds.
1. Lakeside-Evans –4th last year in 4A, but returns a solid group including 4 from State led by Sarah Bowles.
2. East Paulding – returns 2 from the top 25 last year in 4A
3. Flowery Branch – it incredible deep and finished 2nd last year in 4A
4. Lakeside-DeKalb – returns 4 from the top 100 at state in 4A
5. Winder Barrow – better predictor because they have some times from the summer
6. Allatoona – returns a solid group and finished 3rd last year in 3A
7. Dunwoody – has the top individual retuner (Cameron 3rd)
8. Union Grove – has a solid core and finished 5th last year
9. Whitewater – returns a good group that ran at state last year, finished 6th
10. North Paulding – has the exact time as Pope
Tie – Pope – has the exact time as North Paulding, this appears to be a great race
Watch List: Rome, Creekview
2012 4A Pre-Season Rankings and Preview: by Coach Claude Spinks
This season might be called the Marist show...Both their boys and girls are the heavy favorites in the team races and each gender has runners who should compete for the individual title. On the guys side Wayne County with their front runner, Daniel Broadhead, are the pre-season #2 team. After that is becomes really jumbled with teams 3 through being very similar, in the pre-season anyway. What happens when some of the greatest competition for an individual XC title comes from a teammate? You have the Michael Thurston/Daniel Navarro duel. Both guys have put in a ton of work this summer and it will be fun to watch them run all season. Daniel Broadhead will try to make sure that these guys aren't running alone on November 10th. With a solid track season behind him Hakeem Mustafa of Shaw may also be ready to step up as one of the top guys in the state.
Not only are the Marist girls blessed with front runners but they are also very deep. The Marist boys receive a lot of much deserved attention as a top All-class team but this group of girls could make the Marist boys the second best team on that campus. One team that could challenge though is Heritage – Catoosa. Each year they run under the radar but show up big at the state meet. These girls always run their best in the biggest race of the year. Alexander, Chestatee and Pickens should also field very competitive teams and contend for a spot on the podium. Marist has two front runners in Morgan Ilse and Kate Northrop but things are more crowded up front on the girls side. Other girls who should be near the front include Anna Leigh Nix of Veterans, Abby Booth of Perry, Ericka Taylor of Westover and Alyssa Weaver of Pickens.
2. Wayne County
3. Sandy Creek
4. Pickens County
7. Stephens County
8. Eagles Landing
5. Pickens County
6. Eagles Landing
9. Northwest Whitfield
Preseason 3A Boys Rankings: by Coach Tomy Sitton
1. St. Pius X
2. Woodward Academy
3. North Hall
4. Blessed Trinity
5. Chapel Hill
8. North Oconee
9. Hart County
10. Oconee County
3A boys is very strong at the top and should be an exciting team race again this year. St. Pius X and Woodward look virtually even on paper. But, as the defending state champions, St. Pius X gets the nod… for now. Sprague, Tirrell, and Anastasiades are a very strong top 3 for St. Pius, but they need to work on their depth. There is a gap between 3 and 4 and if another team can get their guys to fill that gap, Pius will be denied the three-peat. Woodward is still young but already has 7 guys under 17:00. Drew Sands and River Holifield had big track seasons and will look to mix it up on the individual side while the rest of their team can run as a pack for a shot at the win. North Hall is led by Wit Nix and Bryce Shuebert who both had very strong track seasons. After graduating their top two runners from last year they don’t look as strong on paper as Pius and Woodward. But they have a long history of producing individuals who can contend for a state title and they always seem to have their best race of the year at state. If Woodward and Pius only focus on each other the Trojans could sneak in and win it.
After that there is a small gap to the newcomers of 3A. After a 3rd place finish in 2A last year, Blessed Trinity will be looking for another podium finish. They are led by senior Will Murray who should be fighting for a top ten spot on the individual side. After that they have a close pack of guys who can really make some noise if they put in the work this summer. Chapel Hill will not let BT get that trophy without a fight. After getting 5th in 4A on a 6th man tiebreaker, Chapel Hill should be fired up. They are led by Paul McCloud and Cameron Lord who look to be ready to run near the front of races this fall. They don’t quite have the depth the BT has, but they always seem to find guys ready to race. After the top 5, 3A has another gap. There are about ten teams that could round out the last five spots. It really comes down to who put in the most work in the summer. We all know that a core group of guys doing big miles in the summer can turn a team from a top ten threat to a podium contender.
Pre-Season 3A Girls: by Coach Sam Borg
1. Blessed Trinity – Finished 2nd in AA behind Westminster in 2011, resounding favorite to win AAA in 2012… Unbelievable depth up front (Willett, Kyle, Gandolfo, McConnell, Marchuk, Beecham) and a long line of JV runners ready to fill in as an adequate #5 to get the job done in case of emergency
2. St Pius X – Finished 2nd in AAA in 2011 behind Heritage-Catoosa. Pius looks to be a strong 2nd to start the 2012 campaign with Dabney, Schwarz, Fristoe, Thurston, Pettit, and Oneil, but has work to do to be put into the same category as the Titans from BT
3. North Hall – Senior Victoria Rogers highlights 6 returning Varsity runners from last season’s 6th place finish in AAA - Highest ranked public school headed into 2012.
4. Chapel Hill - Joins AAA from an 11th place finish in AAAA last season, Ashton Lord leads a team capable of grabbing a podium spot
5. Woodward Academy – 5th in AAA in 2011, graduated 2 seniors from their top 5, but should have the depth to replace them and have a shot at the podium
6. West Hall – 7th in AAA in 2011, led by seniors Taylor Long and Ryan Sharry
7. North Oconee – Made the AA podium in 4th in 2011, losing Pigg to Florida?
8. White County – 11th in AAA in 2011, graduated Jessie Dotson but reloads with a talented freshman in Jenna Gearing
9. Jackson County – 5th in AA on 2011, Sydney Baird leads a team that joins AAA good enough for top 10 consideration
10. Buford – Didn't get to state in 2011 with Westminster, Blessed Trinity, Lovett, and GAC in their AA region, but look like a top 10 AAA team in 2012
Watch list: Oconee County, Banks, Central Carroll, Cartersville, LAFO
2012 3A Girls Individual Girls Race:
The individual race for a state title leans towards Bailey Willett, a Junior at Blessed Trinity. A virtual meet doesn’t tell you the whole story. Willett’s 19:34 at last year’s state meet is the fastest returning individual time in AAA and on top of that, she is your state champion in the 400M in 57.5. Combine that with her 2:15 800M and you better watch out for the freight train closing hard up and down that last hill on November 10th.
There is a great pack of girls that can contend with Willett that should make for a fun and unpredictable year in AAA. Ashton Lord of Chapel Hill comes in with a 19:43 at last year’s state meet and 5:26, 11:45 speed from track last spring. West Hall’s Taylor Long finished 4th in AAA last year in 19:50 and ran an 11:45 in Albany for 4th. Blessed Trinity has a huge training advantage, as Willett is joined at practice everyday by Natalie Kile, Anna Gandolfo, Katie McConnell, Helen Marchuk, and Kate Beecham, all of which broke through the 21 minute mark in 2011. Devon Dabney and Tessa Schwarz of St. Pius X and Victoria Rogers of North Hall should all in the mix as well, along with all of those surprise freshmen out there that are about to shock us in the first few meets of the year.
2012 Pre-Season 2A Rankings and Preview by Coach Alan Parrish
Westminster's boys have won five straight State Championships and are the favorite to do so again. They are led by last year's individual state champion Jordan Flowers. Lovett is not far behind, as they have been on the podium every year for a long time. Wesleyan is back in AA after four years in Class A. They won the last AA State Championship they participated in (2007) and more recently have won three straight Class A Championships. Most all of Wesleyan's top-7 graduated, but they have a consistently deep team that will challenge. All three of these schools, along with Greater Atlanta Christian (who has a strong chance at the podium this year) make up what is arguably the toughest cross country region in the state (AA Region 6). Jefferson looks to have a great shot at top-4 this year, and Oglethorpe, Thomasville, Bleckley County, and Benedictine are not far behind. Pelham, new to Class AA, also could be a regular part of the top 10.
Westminster is also the favorite on the girls' side. They have the largest (114 girls in 2011) and deepest team in the state. Westminster has won three straight girls' State Championships with an unbelievable average score of 30. They are led by junior Sahara Fletcher who is pursuing her third consecutive individual state championship. Lovett is the last team to beat Westminster in the state meet (2008) and will have a great team again. Wesleyan finished only 5 points out of 1st in the Class A Championship last year, and will add more competition for the podium in Class AA. Thomasville, GAC, and Jefferson are all legitimate challengers for the podium. Bleckley County and Coosa also appear to be returning strong teams. Former Class A schools moving up--Pelham and Bremen-- are not far behind.
7 Bleckley County
9 Bleckley County
2012 Class 1A Preview and Rankings: by Coach Geoffrey Walton
With Wesleyan moving to AA, there will be a new champion in Class A. There are a number of teams who have the potential to rise to the top spot on the podium. With a number of returning front runners, Athens Academy enters the season as the fastest returning team. Led by the trio of Henry Dwyer, Kurt Crymes, and Adam Hearn, the Spartans have a lot of experience and hope that will help when November rolls around. Right behind are Darlington, Providence Christian, and Galloway. These three teams each return some solid front runners and have some rising young talent coming behind. Coach Hudson of Collins Hill leads the pack for Darlington....LOL......wait, that's junior Andrew Hudson (no relation) who will have a strong crop of veterans surrounding him. For Galloway, Reilly Friedman will be a solid front runner and James Watkins leads Providence Christian. Finally, don't fall asleep on Holy Innocents’, Pace Academy, First Presbyterian, and Athens Christian. As is usually the case in Class A, there is very little separation between the front runners and these perennially strong teams. Class A will likely remain one of the most competitive races at the State meet.
After squeaking out a victory last year, Landmark Christian may be one of the strongest teams all class. With five runners who can break 20:00, Landmark is the strong favorite to repeat as State Champions. They will be led by senior Lindy Long and freshman Kathryn Foreman who was one of the top 8th graders in the USA. After them, there are a number of schools who will be vying to knock off Landmark Christian. Providence Christian, led by Taylor Tuttle, First Presbyterian, led by Footocker Finalist Grace Tinkey, and Darlington, led by Lauren Hooper will each be strong, deep teams. Athens Christian, Pace Academy, and Pinecrest Academy will also have strong teams which will compete for a podium spot. With the top individual runner in the state (Tinkey) and one of the top teams in the state (Landmark), class A girls will be an incredible race to watch!
7 Pace Academy
2- Providence Chrstian
Boys and Girls Public by Bruce Taylor
At this time, it is challenging to make a prediction regarding the boys and girls public schools. For the girls, be on the lookout for Trion, Towns County, Jenkins County, Baconton and Gordon Lee. For the Boys, Baconton Charter, Gordon Lee, Trion, Claxton and Towns County have consistently fielded teams who competed at the State meet and should be strong candidates for the State title. As the year moves on, we will be looking to see who emerges
2012 GISA Pre-Season Cross Country Rankings by Coach Kristan Moses
1. Augusta Prep
2. Holy Spirit Prep
5. Mount de Sales
8. Trinity Christian-Sharpsburg
1. Mount de Sales
2. Brookwood School
3. Augusta Prep
4. Westminster Schools of Augusta
8. Mill Springs
9. Holy Spirit Prep
4. Trinity Christian-Dublin
6. Robert Toombs
7. Westminster Christian
8. Monsignor Donovan
1. Central Fellowship
2. Unity Christian
5. Trinity Christian-Dublin
6. Monsignor Donovan
9. Edmund Burke
10. Grace Christian