Coach David Erpelding of Warner Robins has established an annual tradition in hosting an early season invitational comprised of most of the top programs in Middle Georgia. This will be his 15th year as the Head cross country coach at Warner Robins High School. He established the Houston County Cross Country Championships in 1994. Erpelding ran cross country and track while at Brunswick High School from 1983-1987 establishing several records during that time and then went on to run cross country and track at Campbell University from 1987-1991 and later ran in the Boston Marathon in 1993.
This season 21 HS teams and 9 MS teams will test the tough layout at Pearl Stephens Elementary. I believe this is one of these courses that runs tougher during the early season heat especially having to climb the hill next to the street 3 times as well as dealing with the gnats on a windless day(south of the gnat line). Here is a layout of the course http://www.usatf.org/routes/view.asp?rID=148072.
Race favorites for the team title on the Boys side will include Warner Robins, Spalding County, and Washington County. Individually, it could be a battle between Spalding's Will Ficklen, Rashuan Tanner of Washington, Karl Burkhardt and Ryan Dimes of Warner Robins and possibly Benjamin Woodard of West Laurens who may be healthy now.
The girls race is sure to be a barnburner with several sub 21: runners who will test their conditioning in the heat. Caroline Mauldin from the Demons, Megan Breitbach of Houston County and Elizabeth Lambert from Northside will have an advantage of being very familiar with Pearl Stephens having raced on it many times but Spalding's Jenna Wesley and Bleckley's Kelli Arnold may be ready to spoil that home cookin. On paper it seems Spalding County may have the upper hand but do not count out Bleckley and host Warner Robins. Race results should be up late Tuesday night along with a photo gallery!