The Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational (Preview)
Marist School looks forward to hosting thirty schools this coming Saturday for Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational. The course will be tough, the competition fierce, the awards top notch, and forecast suggest the weather will be typical of early September in Georgia. Plan to arrive early, and consider carpooling or other alternatives provided on the meet page on Milesplit. Meet day shirts and a full line of concessions will be available to runners and fans. Admission & parking are free. Follow @MaristDistance on Twitter & Instagram for live updates on race day.
If you are in the mix to win Double Dip individually, chances are you're in the mix to go to either the Foot Locker Finals or NXN. Just in the last four years we've seen 8 FLN and NXN finalists emerge - Ilse (Marist, NXN), Pittman (Marist, NXN), Billings (Northview, FLN), Hurley (FCS, FLN), Gibbons (Winter Park, NXN), Tripodi (Lovett, NXN), Carnahan (South Forsyth, FLN), Block (Athens Academy, FLN).
Last year the girls of South Forsyth beat the host, Marist, by a score of 55-70, and Josie Wirtz (Marist, now Clemson) won the individual title. Milton's girls set the record for team average in 2016 at 20:08. Lindsay Billings, now at Duke, set the course record of 18:16 in 2015.
The senior heavy team from Marist set the course record for team average in 2017 at 16:41, winning by 46 points over Lakeside. Leif Andersen (Marist) won the individual race in 16:14, just one second off the course record set by Sam Bowers in 2016.
Coach Roy Benson
The Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational is named in honor of the legendary coach, Roy Benson. He coached at the University of Florida from 1969 to 1979 as the head cross country coach for seven years and head track and field coach for three years. Coach Benson was a senior contributor to Running Times magazine for 25 years, and founded and directed the Smoky Mountain Running Camp for 40 years. From 1993 to 2008, Coach Benson served as a community coach at Marist, where his girls and boys teams won sixteen state championships in cross country, and individual runners won a total of twenty state titles in cross country and track. He is now semi-retired on Amelia Island, Florida, where he serves as volunteer head cross country coach at Fernandina Beach High School. Coach Benson will be in attendance this Saturday.
Girls' Team Race:
Decatur - (Decatur, GA) (#5 5A) The Bulldogs will be racing the 5k for the fourth weekend in a row, which may mean they're sharp compared to other teams who are just getting started with the season. Haley Rose is the standout runner on the squad, having finished in the top ten at Kosh, Battle of Atlanta, and Starrs Mill. She is surrounded by a very solid team, including Adelaide Taylor and Maggie Carlton.
Marist - (Atlanta, GA) (#1 4A) The 10-time defending AAAA state champions haven't won Double Dip since 2014, and are eager to buck that trend. Though returning several runners from last year's team, this squad has a different feel than teams we've seen from Marist in the last few years. Captain, Kathleen Maley, has been one of the top runners in the state for the last 2 years. Kathleen Schellman is an all-state performer in both cross country and track. LJ Watson has shown tremendous improvement over the summer, and is set to make her mark this fall. Emily Little, new to the team this year, won the team's pre-season time trial. All four of these girls are capable of running with each other, and any one of them can lead the pack on a given day. Captain, Maggie D'Amaro is also much improved over last year, and is a solid #5. Nora Solomon, a top 800m runner in 4A, and Ellie Pittman, have cracked the top 7 lineup. The War Eagles delivered at their first meet, a two mile race at Marist, by putting 6 girls in front of Blessed Trinity's #2.
South Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#2 7A) South Forsyth returns 6 of their top 7 from last year's state runner-up team in 7A. Madelynne Cadeau, the junior, seems to have claimed the #1 spot on the team after an 18:42 second place finish at the Lambert River Run. Aleesa de Castro, Katelyn McLean, and Sophia Baker all posted sub-20 times at Lambert, with Emma O'Connor not far behind. Caroline Patterson and Isabella Rhone round out the top 7 for the War Eagles. Having won Double Dip last year, and returning almost the entire lineup, South Forsyth should be considered the favorite to win the meet on Saturday.
West Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#7 7A) Four Wolverines from last year's sixth place State team have run so far this season, including Haley Tillery & Isabel Ptacek, who have each crossed the line first for the team in their first two meets. Rachel Murray & Rachel Sexton ran well together at the Lambert River Run. Caroline Coggin, Ava Krogman, and Ashley Hannigan were close behind to bring the team home. West Forsyth finished fourth at the Lambert River Run against great competition, including South Forsyth.
Other Teams to Watch: Alexander (#7 6A), Holy Innocents (#6 A private)
Boys' Team Race:
Decatur - (Decatur, GA) (#2 5A) It was the race by the Bulldogs this past weekend at Starrs Mill that really caught our eye. Eoin McNally finished 10th in 16:33 on the fast course, but was followed closely by teammates Sam Amick and freshman, Christian Gonzalez, in 11th and 12th. If Decatur can pull along their #4 and #5 they will be quite good.
Marist - (Atlanta, GA) (#2 4A) The defending 4A state champions lost a good portion of their team from last year to graduation, including three former War Eagles who are now running at Georgia Tech. Youth and inexperience may be the words many would use to describe this team, but they are very talented and have worked hard this summer. Captain, Leif Andersen, is by far the most experienced runner on the team, having been on the State scene for more than three years, and winning multiple state titles in track. Captain, Hayden Fukushima, had a breakthrough race at the Marist 2-mile. Colin O'Rielly, Jaylen Mallett, and Diego Palmisano are very talented sophomores who have represented the team well. Captain, George Fish, and Lucas Gonzalez round out the top 7.
South Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#1 7A) The War Eagles graduated only two seniors from their 3rd place, podium finish last year. They are the top ranked team in the state's largest classification, which has to make them the favorite to win Double Dip this year. Michael Patterson and Sean Catania led the way for the team at the Lambert River Run, where South Forsyth won pretty handily over an impressive field. A group of juniors - Brennan Bower, Joe Pontrelli, and Nate Hammond - were the other scores for the team at Lambert. Willem Verska & Harrison Siegel are also in the top 7 for this very talented team.
West Forsyth - (Cumming, GA) (#5 7A) The Wolverines finished a strong third at the Lambert River Run behind the efforts of senior leader, Jeremy Ericson, who finished in 7th place. Reece Cato and Tyler Doty could easily close the gap to Ericson, which would give them an outstanding front pack. The other four runners are a bit back of that front group, but they include a pair of freshmen, Trent Bell & Joey Voss, who could potentially improve a lot over the course of the season. Look for other Wolverines, like Yash Bhatt and Logan Rouse to run well on Saturday.
Other teams to watch: Lakeside (#10 7A), Northgate (#6 6A), Dawson County (#6 3A), Woodward (#10 4A)
Five Boys Who Can Win
Leif Andersen (4:15/9:14) - The Marist senior is a three time state champion in track, including winning titles in both the 1600m and 3200m this past spring. He is the defending Double Dip champion. He opened his season with an impressive win at the Marist 2-mile tri-meet.
Sean Catania (4:29/10:15) - The senior from South Forsyth finished 4th at the Lambert River and was 12th last year at Double Dip.
Mikias Mekonen (4:41/9:48) - The junior from Lakeside finished 10th at Bob Blastow in a PR of 16:21. He was 10th last year at Double Dip
Michael Patterson - (4:38/10:03) - The junior was the 2nd place finisher at the Lambert River Run in an impressive 16:17. Last year he finished 13th at Double Dip.
Cody Wood - (5:06/10:04) - The Dawson County senior finished 3rd at the War Eagle Invitational to open up his season. He was 9th last year at Double Dip.
Five Girls Who Can Win
Madelynne Cadeau - (5:15/11:02) The South Forsyth junior had an outstanding run at Lambert, finishing 2nd in 18:42. She was the 9thplace finisher at Double Dip last fall.
Aleesa de Castro - (5:13/11:34) The senior from South Forsyth finished in 19:29 to take 4th at the Lambert River Run. She finished 8th at Double Dip last year.
Kathleen Maley (5:03/11:29) - The Marist senior was the runner up at State in the 4A last year, and was also the runner up at Double Dip last fall. She was 2nd in her opener this season at the Marist 2-mile tri-meet.
Kathleen Schellman - (5:12/11:05) The Marist junior has been all state in XC and track and field and boasts one of the strongest 3200m PR's in the field. .
Frankie Muldoon - (5:26) The Dawson county senior opened her season with a dominating win at the War Eagle Invitational. Last year she finished 5th at Double