Jack Douglass (1796) will lead Pace's quest for a AA State title in 2015 (pic by Daniel McCauley)
AA Boys was pretty tight at 2014 State with Wesleyan besting Pace by 12 points. But Wesleyan will be loaded again and harder to compete with than 2014. With the exception of Bleckley County, its going to be a private school dominated class as usual icluding Pace, Holy Innocents and Lovett. Can Bleckley County be the first AA Public school since East Jackson under Coach Bob Roller in 2009 to place 2nd or win a title?
*AA Rankings ( Based on 3200 times very limited, last years state, and returners)*
Wesleyan: 2014 Title team loaded again as 5 of the top 7 should be back, including their state squad in which their 1-5 (all back) consumed 4 of the top 11 places and a 17th. (:44 Split) going to be hard to top. The Wolves are hard to read until October and have a big advantage over other AA squads training on their challenging home course. All Staters Henry Collins, Bailey Renfroe and Joseph Gaddis should lead "the Pack".
Pace: Returns 6 of top 7 runners including Individual title contender Jack Douglass, needs 4-7 to step up to catch Wesleyan and hold off Bleckley County's charges. They ran great at State in 2014 though most of their top runners fastest times were at a Speedway. (Coach Daley)
Bleckley County: Based off track numbers they are primed to go for title, 7 guys go sub 5 on 1600 and 7 sub 11 in 3200. If they had a good Summer could this be the year for a Public School at the top of the private dominated classification? The Royals (like Wesleyan) are experienced and do not run any patsy courses during the season making them 'State ready'. Their entire top 7 should be back led by Sr. Austin Cook who finished 12th in 2014. Their 2-5 Split :23 as well making them a legitimate contender.
Holy Innocents: Placed a distant 5th in 2014, but returning 6 of their top 7 is a good start. Ben Davies is the defending AA runnerup and has the #1 reurning time to lead the Bears, but needs some help to be top contender and keep their Podium hopes alive this Fall. Jr James Devine placed 22nd in 2014. Large MS program could provide a boost...
Lovett: Same boat as Holy Innocents, great top runner but will need to get development of talent under #1 to catch top 3-4 teams. Top 4 is back including Jr. Everett Smulders who placed 4th in 2014 (and a heartbreaking 2nd in the 1600 this Spring tripping just before the finish line) The Lions need a solid 5th to return to the Podium.
Union County: There's a large hill to climb after Lovett, but top runners beware, Union County might have a breakout year from 10th grader Lance Underwood who placed 20th as a frosh. Coach Hughes seems to come down from the smaller 'mountain meets' and make the state course look easy. The Panthers bring 6 of their top 7 back and should easily win Region 8-AA.
Darlington: The Tigers aren't used to being in the 'back 5' of the rankings. After losing front runner and 2014 XC State Champ Spencer Fields, Jared Deaton will take the lead with a team that returns their 2-7 and will develop and gain experience throughout the year.
Oglethorpe County: The Patriots had a disapointing race at region in 2014 and failed to Q' for State. Known for a few top individual runners in the past decade. This team has a frontrunner in Sid Wightman, but need to get depth to catch those in front. Losing Dawson Frey (2014 MS State Champ) to North Oconee is going to make things tougher.
Social Circle: Not in the top 10 for most of last year, Social Circle ran wild at Region placing 2nd, but hit a brick wall at Carrollton. They do show some promise with a few younger guys. Could be a big year for this squad as their top 7 is slated to return. Sr. Mitchell Clegg is their top returner.
Berrien County: Did some hanging out in the top 10 rankings last year and backed it up at state with top 10 finish. Have a decent MS program to draw from as well. Graduating only their #1, look for this team to use that experience as momentum going into this Fall and perhaps beat 1-AA rival Thomasville at Region.
*2A Boys Teams by Fastest Team Average from 2014 XC Season (Courses Vary)*