Underclassmen Dominate at Sharptop
The race took off at 9:15 and right off the start Ermais Tewolde (Druid Hills) took the lead. Hillgrove teammates Connor Head and Montgomery Tavares were a stride behind along with Jaison Morning and Sean Parker pulling up a few back of them. Mile one was quick around 5 minutes for the leaders going into the woods. As the runners came through the tunnel towards the second mile, Tewolde still had the lead, but a hard charging Parker had overtaken the other competitors and was the lone challenger still about 20 meters back. The two runners battled down the last 1000 meters but the Druid Hills sophomore held off Parker (sophomore) as both broke the previous course record in 16:24 and 16:27 respectively. Connor Head was 3rd in 16:45, and sophomore teammate Tavares was 4th in 16:54 outlasting Jaison Morning 16:55.
Team race was interesting as only 14 points separated the top 3 teams. Although McIntosh (93) had their 5th runner in before any other team and had 7 in the top 40 they were bested by Pace Academy (91) who placed four runners in the top 15. Pickens filled in the 3rd spot with 105, Druid Hills 4th (133), and Cartersville 5th (181).
The underclassmen really showed off in the girls race as the top 7 there was not a senior to be seen. Elizabeth Graves (sophomore) and Anna Hayden (junior)of Riverwood International took the lead in the beginning with Lindsey Grater (freshman) of Chestatee right on their heels. These three went through the mile mark at about 6 minutes with Pickens freshman Sabrina Young chasing after them with a mixture of Hillgrove and McIntosh girls in tow. Coming out of the woods and through the tunnel Graves had taken a slight lead over Grater as Hayden had started to fade from the quick early pace. Young of Pickens had fallen back but was still holding off the pack of 5 runners trying to reel her in. With 1000 meters to go Graves put the pedal down and left no doubt she would win with a time of 19:15. Grater held on for 2nd in 19:37, while Graves’ teammate Anna Hayden finished 3rd in 20:07. Young held on for 4th in 20:31, as Franklin of Hillgrove (junior), Deal of Fannin County (junior), and Ward of McIntosh (sophomore) finished within 7 seconds of her.
Team race was decided early as McIntosh (53) had a large chase pack that brought their score way down. Although they only had one top 10 finisher, their 2-5 runners all finished top 16 and had a 6 second difference. With Riverwoods’ lead two runners they were able to capture 2nd place with 118. Hillgrove took 3rd (147), Pickens 4th (163), Pace 5th (166), and Chestatee just outside the top 5 finished 6th with 168.