Can 2014 team runnerups, St. Pius X, challenge powerful Marist this season in 4A Girls?
Once again the Marist girls are the favorites. There seem to be close to half a dozen schools who could snag the last 3 podium spots. The theme among those schools in the lower end of the top 10...finding help at 4 and 5. The teams that do that will move up.
Marist- They scored an astoundingly low 20 points at last year's state meet. They may not post that low a score again this year but they are the very clear favorites. After Marist, things are not nearly as clear. Solid top 3 with Josie Wirtz, Myriam Alvarez and Kendall Nelson. May have 2 top freshman that could have an impact from 2014 MS State Championship squad with Annie Magee and Olivia Baljet.
St. Pius - They had a good state meet last year and should continue to be near this top this year. 5 of their top 7 return giving the Lions a solid nucleas to work with. Top returners are Katie Glenn, Elizabeth Grace Lennon, Emma Jane Braxton, Mallory Grace and Luxey O'Brien. Need to develop a couple of front runners to push Marist by the State meet.
Heritage - Catooosa - Year in and year out, one of the best girl's programs in the state. This year should be no different. 2014 team average is deceptive, as they competed on no 'race tracks'. Did lose their top 2 to graduation, but 3-7 return including Alex Gass, Noor Sabeeh and Sarah Buckler.
White Co - With an individual state champion contender and some help at 4 and 5 they could move up. Been working hard, Jenna Gearing is looking good and trying to get a 4th straight podium spot, gonna be tough. Lost Rachel Gearing to torn ACL at summer basketball. Hoping a nice freshman class will help their depth.
Woodward - The War Eagles placed 7th in 2014 with one of the tightest packs in the state meet (1-5 was :17!) If everyone can just get faster it could move them on to the podium this Fall. Their top 6 should be back this season led by Mary Grace Lesesne, Gillian Jewell, and Katie Dorton.
North Oconee - Another quality program that returns 6 of its top 7. Some help at 4 and 5 and they could find themselves higher. The Titans have 12 girls that at this time that could see be in our their 7. North Oconee has never been close to this many quality runners. Currently needing the dynamic front runner that could go win a big race or be in top 5. Top 3 returning are Sophie Brown, Amy Stanaland and Gabby Huff-Streiter.
Johnson - Like their male counterparts, ranking the Johnson girls in the pre-season top 10 is no longer a surprise as their program made huge strides last season (including its largest roster) advancing to State out of tough 8-AAAA placing 8th. Their entire top 7 could be back led by Senior Evelin Avitia.
Buford - Another region 8 school who could find themselves higher if they can get some help at the 4 and 5 spots. Very young but talented. Lost National Elite Hurdler and Multi event runner Erin Marsh, as she is focusing on Indoor Track. Trio of solid Sophomores will be carrying the team this year; Lauryn Davidson, Sarah Davis, and Tatum DeGoey.
Chestatee - Program on the rise that can move up. Stuck in the vortex of 8-AAAAwere unable to punch their ticket to State after placing 6th. Their prospects are brighter this Fall returning 6 of their top 7 including sophomore Lindsay Grater who qualified for State as an Individual and soared to 5th overall making the All-State squad.
Whitewater - Placed 9th in 2014 at State. Return 5 of their top 6 including front runner Ashley McMahon, Alexis Smith and McKenzie Hembold. Like so many others, help at #5 and they can move up.
*4A Girls Teams by Fastest Team Average from 2014 XC Season (Courses Vary)*