5-AAAAAA Walton Boys Rise Up and Raider Girls Fight Off Etowah, Roswell for Region Title
Walton is beginning to run strong like usual when the end of the season approaches. The team battle was won by the pack from Walton having their closest team gap of the season. The Raiders did it putting 3 runners in the top 9 beating a strong Etowah squad that has consistently been ranked top 10 all-classes. Kenan Farmer won the overall title clocking a solid 15;44 on the Boling Park course. Individually, Owen Bailey of Woodstock (15:47) gave Kenan Farmer of Walton a great battle until the last 1/2 mile as the pair easily distanced themselves from the field. Etowah held off a strong team effort from Milton packing 3 harriers into the top 10 spots led by Sam Donley's 3rd place effort in 16:23 and Michael Perona's 6th in 16:30. Milton’s team effort, almost a carbon-copy of Etowah’s effort a year-ago, pulled off the upset of 8th-ranked & main-rival Roswell with 5 finishers between 11th-21st. Roswell also earned their ticket to state with a strong pack, staying clear of Wheeler and Cherokee. Qualifying as individuals were Woodstock's Owen Bailey in 2nd overall at 15:47, and the Wheeler duo of Ryan Peck in 4th at 16:27 and Jason Boone a step back in 16:28.
Avery Bussjager of Walton put on a clinic of front running after the first mile to cruise to victory the overall title in 18:19. But unlike the boys race, there would be a slew of ladies from many teams that would trickle in over the next couple of minutes that left teams guessing as to who had won. The Walton Lady Raiders pulled off the 1 point win over Etowah who suffered having their usual #1 runner go down after two miles. Kyla Resnick took up the slack placing 3rd for the Eagles in 19:01. Roswell had a strong front 3 which led them to 3rd overall just 8 points back of Etowah as Rachel VanAmbergh was the top Hornet finishing 4th in 19:05. Woodstock ran a great race to get 4th in the deepest region in the state. Milton proved to be the victim of both the deep region and bad luck as their #1 runner also went down Even though Milton had all five of its scorers finish ahead of Etowah, Roswell & Woodstock’s #5 finisher they were left out of the state meet as they had no finishers in the top-10. Milton will sit at home running a 20:34 avg for its top-5 finishers.. Individually, Alexandra Melahan of Woodstock was 2nd in 18:49, Caitlyn Farrell of Cherokee was 5th in 19:16.
Walton (1st-24 pts) easily dominated the race with its top-5 finishers all in the top-12 as Mitchell Sanders was the race winner for the Raiders in 17:13. Milton was runner-up (2nd-57 pts) on a 6th-man tie breaker over Etowah.
The Lady Raiders finished the sweep of titles for the 2nd consecutive year with a 10-point victory over Milton (32-42). Katie Sanders of Walton (1st-20:11) was the clear race winner as teammate Sophia Watkins was runner-up (2nd-20:45). Milton & Walton put all five of their scoring runners in the top-14 finishers of the race.