Hebron Christian Girls hope to push Landmark this Fall. (pics by Daniel McCauley)
The Landmark Christian girls will be a force unlike any other in 1A Private. Coach Bill Thorne's Eagles are primed to make it four 1A Private titles in the last five seasons. It's going to be very tight from positions 2-4, including Region 8 schools Hebron Christian, Providence Christian, and Athens Academy. Others with Podium potential could be Paideia and Walker. There's a bit of a gap up to 7 with a young ACS squad, Atlanta International, which will welcome Helen Williams back this Fall after her injury in 2014, Galloway, and Mount De Sales. Several other teams could also break into the top 10 as the season progresses.
1A Private Girls:
1- Landmark Christian- Its going be a hard road to hoe for anyone to knock the Eagles off their #1 perch, unless its 'head to head' same race during the season. They have their top 6 back and that includes a 3-headed monster in Nicole Fegans, Foot Locker finalist Kathryn Foreman and her sister Sarah Foreman. I would expect to see their 4-5 both go sub 20: also. Gotta take your hat off to Bill Thorne and what he does there every season.
2- Hebron Christian- This program has made great leaps forward in this past several years. The Lady Lions return their entire top 8. Hebron Christian is hungry and they have been working hard. Knowing they have some very stiff competition in A Private, as well as within difficult Region 8. Hebron had a tighter pack at State last year(especially 1-4) than Landmark or Providence which could be a key to moving up the Podium. Abby Howe, Miranda Taylor and Allyssa Hawkins are top returners.
3- Providence Christian- Not very familiar with their program, except for their high finishes recently including a strong 2nd in 2014. But the Storm return 6 of their top 7 from 2014 including some frontrunners. Soph Sydney Hendricks placed 6th at State and assumed their #1 position with Sr Emily Swanigan right on her heels. They will need to get faster to push Landmark or Hebron Christian.
4- Athens Academy- The girls team will be strong at the front and will be looking to build some depth in the 6-10 slots. Returning five of the top seven from last year's 4th place team, the Spartans will again look to bring home a trophy from the State meet. They will need some of the new runners to establish themselves in order to build some depth on the team. Top Runners: Anna Marian Block, Emily Ballard-Myer, Emily Elder, Sara Irvine, and Janie Williams.
5- Paideia- After a surprising 3rd at Region 5-A and a top 10 finish at State in 2014, the Lady Pythons may get a huge boost this Fall as dual State Track medalist Sophia West (1600/3200) is purportedly coming back this Fall to compete for the school after sitting out the 2014 XC season. In addition, top returner, Soph Olivia Escobedo, along with Anna McEntee and Margot Gaines, went to Smoky Mountain Running Camp this summer which should help them to step up their game. Eunheh Koh, Annabel Rothschild, Mira Kaufman, and Nell Mermin-Bunnell could also move Paideia up the ladder with sound training. The Track program has certainly been a boon, feeding into the Varsity XC squad.
6- Walker- This team may have placed 15th last season having a tough race at State, but their prospects for 2015 look much brighter on paper. The Wolverines return their entire top 7 from 2014 which is a good beginning. They should easily get out of their Region which is a bit weak after the top 4. One thing in their favor was a good pack including top runners Laren Marseca and Chloe Scott.
7- Atlanta International- Don't be deceived by AIS' 11th place finish at State last season as it was accomplished without the services of one Helen Williams who had to sit out 2014 XC with a hip injury and is back for this Fall. Williams dominated the 1600/3200 down in Albany in 2014 and her presence puts AIS back in the fold this season to place much higher.
8- Athens Christian- ACS girls team is also rebuilding with a very young team this year. Comprised mainly of freshmen and sophomores, Coach Cayla Reddish's team is led by sophomore Tanner Guestt, who is back strong from a season ending injury last year, and has performed very well at several camps this summer. She is joined by sophomores Maud Todd; Kayla Martin and Claire Heiss, along with some talented freshmen and a couple of juniors. Region 8 went 2-3-4-6 for the girls, and is the most competitive 1A Private Region in the state.
9- Galloway- The lady Scots had a great race at State in 2014 placing a distant fifth. Top runner Caroline Henry has moved on to the next level, but 5 of their top 7 return to make a go at it this Fall. A pair of sophs are their top returners including Sammi Krinsky and Sophie Crane.
10- Mount De Sales- A school that enjoyed State success in the GISA has found themselves a welcome addition to 1A Private. The Cavaliers had a strong State meet in 2014 placing 7th which should give them more confidence this Fall. Sr. Jessy Tallent is a potential frontrunner and their 2-4 ran well as a pack. Need to develop more depth to contend for a Podium spot.
*1A Girls Teams by Fastest Team Average from 2014 XC Season (Courses Vary)*