2019 marks the 11th annual Battle of Atlanta Cross-Country Festival at Nash Farms in McDonough, Ga. What started as the brainchild of Coaches Claud Spinks and Eric Daugherty as a way to promote the sport on the Southside of Atlanta has now grown into one of the largest and most heavily attended meets in the State. This year is no exception as 72 high schools representing the best of every class and 30 middle schools will descend on the pastoral beauty of Nash Farms Park on Saturday. Teams from Florida and Alabama will also take part this year as the competition for both boys and girls should be the best it has ever been. MileSplit Georgia will be onsite shooting video and cover photos.
The early days also saw legendary coach Richard Westbrook (then of Luella) take part in the construction and design of the course. Since Coach Westbrook's retirement, Locust Grove HS has stepped in to ensure that the meet runs smoothly as a partnership between Union Grove, Eagles Landing and Locust Grove. The course at Nash is one of the most spectator friendly in the state. It allows spectators the opportunity to watch 75% of the race from points overlooking the entire course. In addition to being a true 5K, the course typically offers a truly neutral course with a mix of gentle uphills and downhills that is both competitive and exciting to race.
Being an early season meet and SAT Saturday means you are never quite sure what teams will be at full strength. However, based on entries the fields will be very strong.
Top ranked teams for the boys include (in no particular order): Brookwood, Marist, Decatur, Lovett, Pope, Marietta, and South Forsyth. The individual battle looks to be an all-star clash between Justin Wachtel (Mary Persons), Kyle Harkabus (East Coweta), Brennan Bower and Michael Patterson (South Forsyth), Chris Cherono (Grayson), Will Bray & Luke McNeil (Brookwood), Colin O'Rielly (Marist), Sam Rich (Lakeside Evans), William Brown, Cole and K.C. Heron (Pope), Christian Gonzalez and Eoin McNally (Decatur) and Domonic Macias (Union Grove), Jonathan Greene (Evans) among others.
The girls team race could be a prequel to the November Meet of Champions. Marist, South Forsyth and Marietta could well be the three best girls teams in Georgia. Add Mandarin of Florida to the mix and the girls team title could be one of the best in Battle of Atlanta history. Rounding out teams contending for the top 10 are Brookwood, Union Grove, Pope, Decatur, Allatoona and Atlanta International. 12 girls enter the meet with sub 19 PRs so the girls individual race will be just as hotly contested. Leading contenders are Madelynne Cadeau of South Forsyth, Reagan Mahoney and Cara Joyce of Atlanta International, Mackenzie Walls of Veterans, Laney Doster of Jones County, Gabby Parsons of Union Grove, June Mwaniki of Marietta and Kathleen Schellman of Marist, Haley Rose of Decatur and Charlotte Dunn of Pope.
7:30am Varsity Boys 5K
8:00am Varsity Girls 5K
8:35am JV Girls 5K
9:10am JV Boys 5K
9:40am JV Coed 3K
10:00am Varsity and JV Awards (top 20 individuals and team trophies)
10:15am Middle School boys 3K
10:45am MS Girls 3K