2014 Atlanta Classic - Meet Preview
Kathryn Foreman will be back to defend her 2013 Title at Atlanta Classic
Girl’s Team Match-up
Landmark Christian (ranked #1 in Class A and #6 All-Class) boasts the best Top 3 in the state with their Foreman/Fegans/Foreman trio. And their 4 and 5 are not so bad either, making Landmark the favorite among a very good girls field. Their only Achilles heel is depth, meaning that they’ll need to click on all cylinders to keep the rest of the field in check. Coach Bill Thorn does a lot with a little (his entire boys and girls team is only 20 deep), as he and Coach Roby Ross have figured out that it’s quality that matters, not quantity.
Walton has raced sparingly in September, and this will be their first varsity effort since the Cobb County Championships on September 6th. Currently ranked 10th in AAAAAA, Coach Travis Gower’s girls will be looking to make a mid-season statement and show that they’re rounding into the same form that got them on the podium in Carrollton last November.
Heritage Catoosa – ranked #2 in Class AAAA and Top 10 All Class watch list -- makes the trek down from the northwest corner of the state, bringing a stellar squad that has raced mostly under the radar thus far this season. They boast a nice 1/2 punch in seniors Emily Poole and Caitlin Craft, and have a nice group of underclassmen not too far behind. Unfortunately Coach Jeremy Wynne and his harriers won’t get a mid-season match up against #1 Marist (running only a JV squad this week), but they’ll still get a nice preview of how they line up against some of the better metro teams.
Watch out for Westminster….ranked #1 in Class AAA and #10 All Class, they’re only 8th in the virtual meet but have raced on two very slow courses: at home at the Kosh Klassic and most recently at Carrollton. Look for Coach Amy Eubanks’ young squad to challenge for a Top 4 spot on Saturday.
Defending Atlanta Classic champion St. Pius, North Oconee and Woodward are ranked 4th through 6th in AAAA, and they’ll be looking to give Heritage Catoosa a run for their money. With 4 of the Top 6 teams in AAAA in action at Clinton Nature Preserve, it should help sort out the rankings a bit.
Other ranked girls teams scheduled to start are Union Grove (#7 in 5A) and Bremen (#7 in 2A), while Pope and Roswell each boast strong squads and are on the Class 6A Top 10 watch list. Chiles High School makes the trip up from Tallahassee, FL and brings a strong contingent as well.
Boy’s Team Match-up
On paper, this one looks like a 4-Team battle up front between Woodward, Walton, North Oconee and Chiles. Woodward is the defending Atlanta Classic Champion, averaging 17:07 here last year. Currently they’re ranked 3rd in AAAA, and are on the All Class Watch List. They bring a senior-laden team with experience and would love to repeat as team champs for Coach Tim Hamling. Alex Murfee leads, and seniors Ben Murray, Drew Sands and Collin Silliman are solid in support.
Chiles makes the trip up from Tallahassee, FL, bringing a very solid squad of experienced seniors. Currently ranked #2 in All Classifications in Florida, Coach Scott Gowans’ squad has the front-runner in Avery Bartlett, a very good #2 in Tyson Murray, plus a solid supporting cast and a compact 1-5 spread. And some nice depth to top things off. The Georgia contingents will have a tough time keeping the 1st place trophy from heading south.
Coach Ralph Moore brings his North Oconee line-up from the other side of Atlanta. Currently ranked 4th in AAAA, they’ll score low at the front with Thornton and Jones, but will need to tighten up their 1-5 spread to keep points low. They’ve run well this year, with a win and two 2nds, and this could be the week where they take down some very good teams.
Walton is currently ranked #8 in AAAAAA and is on the All-Class Watch List. They had a nice 3rd at Cobb County, but history has shown that the Raiders don’t start making their move until about this time of year. Mitchell Sanders and Andrew Singh are very formidable in the 1/2 spots.
An interesting battle of AAAA top teams is in store, with Woodward, North Oconee, Whitewater (#6) and Sandy Creek (#10) all ranked in the Top 10. Likewise, a nice AAA duel will be contested between #2 Blessed Trinity and #3 Westminster.
Other teams to watch include Roswell and Woodstock (both Watch List AAAAAA); Alexander and Morrow (6th and 10th in AAAAA); Union Grove (AAAAA Watch List); and Landmark Christian and Whitefield Academy (5th and 6th in A Private, although Whitefield will be without Robby Keogh this weekend).
Top 10 Girls Seeds
** the Top 10 Girls and Boys seeds will wear bib numbers 1-10 on Saturday
#1 – Kathryn Foreman (Junior, Landmark Christian) A stellar resume which includes -- most prominently -- national Foot Locker finalist. This will be her 6th week in a row of competing, but she showed us in 2013 that she has the durability to keep knocking out high quality efforts. Perhaps an outside chance at Allie Buchalski’s 2012 course record of 17:58, although that is a very strong record. Defending Class A Private State XC Champion.
#2 – Mary Grace Strozier – (Junior, Pelham (AL)) A solid performer coming into the 2014 track season, she had a break-out spring capped by an eye-popping 4:53 1,600 effort at the state meet. She’s had a strong start to the fall XC season as well, most recently posting an 18:52 win at the Chickasaw Trails Invite on the Oakville Indian Mounds course.
#3 – Ashley Kehoe (Junior, Pope) 5:09/11:11 last spring; she has raced sparingly this season and should be fresh. Defended her Cobb County title in early September, and will be looking to better her 2013 18:49 and 3rd place finish here.
#4 – Nicole Fegans (Sophomore, Landmark Christian) Coming off an impressive freshman campaign (5:14/10:59, plus a 4th place state finish in XC), she’s picked up right where she left off. In fact, she has closed the gap to Kathryn Foreman a bit, finishing only 17 seconds behind at last Saturday’s Coach Daley invite.
#5 – Avery Bussjager (Senior, Walton) Captured 2 state titles as a junior, winning at Carrollton in 19:04, and then notching a huge 10:46 PR effort in the 3,200 at Albany in May. And she has 5:05 speed in the 16. And did we mention she also ran 17:41 at Foot Locker, making her one of top returners coming back this year? Walton’s Rock of Gibraltar for the last 3 years, and you can bet she’s hoping to make her senior campaign a memorable one.
#6 – Sarah Foreman (Freshman, Landmark Christian) Usually team #3’s don’t get a lot of attention, but this one’s last name is Foreman and we’ve been anticipating her arrival on the high school scene for a while. She clearly seems to have gotten her share of the family’s running genes, going sub-19 last Saturday on the quick Coach Daley course. Like her big sister, already has a lot of racing in this season.
#7 – Alexandra Melehan (Senior, Woodstock) A model of consistency, she’s had only one race in her entire high school career with a time over 21:00, and that was on the tough Double Dip course (and then only by 8 seconds). Notched a nice win at the Battle of the Fairways meet two weeks ago. This will be her first visit to the Atlanta Classic course but look for her to be at or near the front.
#8 – Rachel VanAmburgh (Junior, Roswell) Finished 4th here last year with a time of 19:38, and recently ran strong at Warpath with a nice 19:14 effort. Apparently new to the track oval last spring, she showed some nice speed with a huge 5:07 season-ending PR at Albany to go with her 11:05 in the 32.
#9 – Brittany Powell (Junior, Pope) Cracked the magic 20:00 barrier for the first time at Cobb County 3 weeks ago, and seems to have climbed to another level for the Lady Greyhounds. Ran track for the first time last spring so perhaps that has contributed to her recent success.
#10 – Christie Sanders (Senior, Walton) Has provided Coach Gower with 3+ years of solid and consistent efforts. Seems to be making the best of her senior season with two nice sub-20 runs thus far. Posted a big 5:21 1,600 PR last March.
Top 10 Boys Seeds
#1 – Cole Thornton (Senior, North Oconee) 4:27/9:46 in the spring. Somewhat of a slow start this season but seemed to find another gear two weeks ago with a narrow win over teammate Tyler Jones at the Saucony Invite at Unicoi. Leads a very strong North Oconee squad making the trek over.
#2 – Tyler Jones (Senior, North Oconee) Notched a big early win with a solid 16:11 at Battle of Atlanta. Broke through to another level in the spring with 4:25/9:43 double at Jefferson. With teammate Thornton, one of the best 1/2 combos in Georgia.
#3 – Avery Bartlett (Senior, Chiles (Florida)) Brings some very impressive street cred up from Tallahassee: 1:52/4:16 speed, plus part of relay teams that have gone 3:23 and 7:54. And he’s split a sub-:49 in a 4x4! Florida Class 3A Champion at 800 meters. Appears to have reached a new level this XC season with a recent 16:01 at the Florida Horse Park Invitational. Probably best not to have him on your shoulder approaching that last hay bale jump at Clinton.
#4 – Owen Bailey (Senior, Woodstock) Scored exactly 1 point at Jefferson in the spring, which doesn’t sound like much, until you note that he had to run 4:19 and 9:34 to get it. Ran a quick 16:18 at Nash Farms, then has been on two slow courses since. Notched a comfortable win at the Battle of the Fairways meet 3 weeks ago.
#5 – Alex Murfee (Senior, Woodward) Opened impressively with a 15:54 win at the quick Bob Blastow. Then went high 16 and low 17 at Marist and Carrollton, respectively (those being very respectable times on those two tough tracks!) Ran 16:48 here last year for 9th and will be looking to improve on those marks. 4:24/9:42 at Jefferson for two solid 5th place efforts.
#6 – Mitchell Sanders (Senior, Walton) Has raced sparingly this fall; prior to this season his XC PR was a 16:52 at Boling Park, but 3 weeks ago he popped a 16:18 at the marginally slower Cobb County course in finishing a solid 2nd to Kell’s Logan Poteet. So Coach Gower clearly has him feasting on the right mojo. Look for his 4:28 and 9:53 PRs to take a serious beating in the spring.
#7 – Parker Nail (Junior, Whitewater) 4 impressive performances this season, highlighted by a win 2 weeks ago at Sandy Creek. Consistent improvement over the last two years has him now at a higher level.
#8 – Caleb Casolaro (Senior, Fairhope (Alabama)) Respectable credentials coming into this Fall, he seems to have upped the ante with a recent 2nd place finish at the Azalea City Classic in Mobile. Should be fresher than most with only 2 races under his belt thus far.
#9 – Cameron Lord (Senior, Chapel Hill) Solid 16:34 two weeks ago at Warpath. Finished 8th here last year with a nice 16:41, and looks poised to improve on that mark. Has put in a lot of miles out at Clinton, and will be looking to defend his home turf. 4:29 and 9:57 in the spring at Jefferson.
#10 – Brandon Tardif (Senior, Roswell) 17:51 for 4th place at the recent Fulton County meet doesn’t sound like much until you realize that it was on the ridiculously hard Milton course. 16:35 at Warpath “sounds” faster, but both efforts show that his summer work has paid off and that he’s climbed to a new altitude.