Class AAAA Scouting Report
Marist's Boys, barring injury will repeat as 4A Champs. It will be interesting to watch how they will stack up against the Mill Creek's and St.Pius and other top caliber teams during the season at meets like Great American and Coach Wood, but the goal for the War Eagles every year is to peak at State, and dominate. Marist has won 8 state titles since 2002, falling short in 2006-2007 (to a very talented Chapel Hill squad) and 2011 (Flowery Branch-another amazing team) Make it 9 in 2013. 4A has taken a hit with many of the top programs moving up/down in Class in the last realignment. Alexander has a top notch program and should make the Podium. Lagrange surprised alot of people in 2012 and looks strong enough to challenge again.
Indvidually, Marist returns the power duo of Michael Thurston (1st) and Daniel Navarro(2nd) in 2012. Shaw's Hakeem Mustafaa had a strong Summer Track season and may have the wheels to win a state title this Fall. After these three runners a gap exists consisting of Lagange's Sam Bowie and Andrew Coggins, Brian Cato of Eagles Landing, Beau Brooks of Wayne County.
Marist graduated only Jack Leahy, and along with their 2 studs back is Jim Galvin and Frank Pittman. I'm sure the top 5 will not race every week as they shouldn't have to and race when it matters like Battle of Atlanta, Great American, Coach Wood, etc. Last Fall they may have set a record for margin of victory in recent XC history, enough said..
Alexander returns a solid squad for 2013. Their 5K stats are a little misleading racing at Blastow and Asics, but their 2nd place finish at a meaner Carrollton course is not. I believe their entire top 7 is from State returns including Broc DuCharme who was their top performer, Jacob King, Cantrell Jackson and Lance Smith. Coach Brian Robinson certainly will have them ready to close the gap a bit on Marist.
Lagrange has faired quite well since moving up to 4A, from 3A which is loaded. The Grangers 4th place finish at State was impressive and has to help their program garner some interest from students looking to be a part of a winning program. All-Staters Sam Bowie and Andrew Coggins are the heart and soul of the team. Also back are Jonathan Pelham and Garrett Cashwell.
Columbus' program has been very consistent producing runners like Charlie Sparks and Adam Jones. The Devils took it on the chin in 2012 placing 14th, but should move back into Podium contention this season. They return 4 sub 18 runners including Bo Bridges, Connor Gilpatrick and Clayton Slake. Would like to see them race in a few more weekend events than in Muscogee County races..
Then there are 3-5 schools evenly matched including Carrollton, Pickens County, Veterans, Hephzipah and possibly Wayne County and Dalton scores well on both charts.
Marist's Girls are just as dominant as their counterparts and have won 13 state titles in 17 seasons. They had a much closer call at State as Heritage-Catoosa (a relatively new school) was clearly em good competition and could again. Pickens County, Grady (yes, Grady), Alexander, Carrollton, Veterans, River Ridge and Columbus should all be competitive for a Podium run.
Morgan Ilse has been dominant since deciding to focus on Cross Country her frosh season and is the woman to beat in 2013. Ilse is also doubled in Albany in the 1600/3200 Meter Races so don't expect a dropoff her junior season. She's got some fast seniors are hoping to track her down though...Alyssa Weaver of Pickens County placed 2nd :35 back at Carrollton. Anna Leigh Nix from Mary Persons will be in that chase pack. Sarah Bearden of Lagrange is a competitor as well as Abby Booth of Perry HS. Sophomore, Sarah Buckler from Heritage-Catoosa is back after having led her squad to a runnerup team finish. Keep a watch out for Frosh Kendall Nelson of Marist and Betty Jackson from Eagles Landing...
Marist graduated only all-stater Kate Northrup...so they are returning 6 of their top 7. Not good news for their competitors certainly. They may have to work a little harder to improve upon their stellar 2012 run, and young coach Eric Heintze will have them ready come November. Returning w/ Ilse are Myriam Shehata, Marlaina Schwab, Courtney Marburger, Kellie Kratzenberg and Catie Faust. Frosh Kendall Nelson won the GA MS State Championship Large School Individual title and Morgan Guerts could have an impact (if these girls aren't in Club Soccer, lol.
Heritage-Catoosa seemed to definitely get a better zoning for XC talent than did Lakeview Ft.Oglethorpe (4A Champs 2006) when the new school opened a few years back and have been successful from the start winning the 3A title in 2011. They are in nice shape returning 5 of their State top 7 including top runner Buckley, Caitlan Craft and Emily Poole. Can they give Marist a run again? That's why we run the races...
Pickens County placed 5th in 2012 and could make a move to get on that Podium in November. Their fastest 2012 times came from their home course at Roper Park which I'm not familiar with, but a 5th place effort at Carrollton does not lie. Weaver is back to lead the Dragons and challenge for an individual title. Their top 3 is still intact with Savanah Rice and Sarah Ballard.
Grady runs in the APS (Atlanta Public School races) which are contested at Grant Park (a decent challenge) But a 5th place finish at Carrollton and a good Spring Track season may help. The question is how many Girls from 2012 will return to compete this season. Grady returns almost everyone from their state squad including top runners Grace Powers, Iman Madyun and Margaret Stockdale.
Alexander traditionally has a good squad and things shouldn't change too much. Once again, their best times are from fast tracks, but a 3rd place finish in 2012 can't be ignored. They lost their top runner to graduation (Brittany Truitt) But, senior Chloe Camp should step right in her place and lead along with Anna Scasny. Look for Alexander's runner youngers to step it up by November.
The next few teams are much more difficult to gauge and whoever did some good work during Spring Track and trained hard/smart this Summer should be in a great position to grab a Podium spot. Carrollton, Veterans, River Ridge, NW Whitfield, Chestatee and Columbus are very evenly matched. Which means an exciting race on 11-9!
Class AAAA Scouting Report