Over 1500 runners will make their way to Unicoi State Park in Helen to run in the Mountain Invitational on Thursday. There will be some very competitive racing, as High School and Middle School teams head through the field, onto the gravel track, up and down the mountain. It has rained excessively, so the later races will see very sloppy conditions. Times may not match up with years past, but the competition of the races will be as good as ever.
The Middle School boys race alone has over 400 entries to date, making for a great 'big meet' experience, giving valuable experiece for new Middle Schoolers.
The high school race is in some ways a region preview for 8-AAAA and 8-AAA
Varsity Boys Race
In the boys race, there is quality at the top with North Oconee, North Hall, and Oconee County and a very deep field of talented boys programs, which in no particular order include East Jackson, Chestatee, Johnson, Buford, White County, Banks, West Hall, Dawson, Winder, and Gainesville. A top 5 spot at this meet means something and the 3 team trophies will be hard to get.
Individually, the Kennedy brothers (Chase and Chandler from East Jackson) match up well with North Oconee's Thomas Moore, North Hall's Corson Teasley, and Johnson's Gerardo Suarez and Oconee's Michael Hans. They will be gunning down that 15:59 mark if the course doesn't soak them into some slower times.
Varsity Girls Race
On the girls side, North Oconee, North Hall, White County, and Hart County lead the way in a girls field that also includes Dawson, Chestatee, Winder, Buford, and Johnson. Again, a top 5 spot will mean something here and the trophies won't come easy.
Individually, Jenna Gearing (White), Sue Ann Morales (East Jackson), and Audrey Honiotes (Hart) lead the way which should be a great race with 3 elite girls that will try to hold off the chase pack of Jaelyn Alexander (White), Mackenzie Morse (North Oconee), Lauryn Davidson (Buford), and Frankie Muldoon (Dawson).