(contributions by Bruce Taylor)
Brynne Sumner and Erin Fegans duel at the 2018 AT&T Panther Invitational
(photo by Dan McCauley)
With over 1,700 athletes, multiple state champion teams and top Individuals from Georgia and Alabama on a great course, it's going to be a memorable morning of racing! This year's AT&T Starr's Mill XC Invitational brings together 34 HS and 15 MS teams to the picturesque Heritage Christian Church course, just south of Peachtree City, and a few miles north of Senoia (where most of the 'The Walking Dead' has been filmed for nearly a decade) This year's invited Elite athlete is Karisa Nelson, who was NCAA Indoor Track Mile Champ and the 9th fastest female in NCAA history. (4.35.1 PR). She will be on hand to help hand out awards and sign autographs. The individual and team races will be tight. MileSplit GA will be onsite shooting a photo gallery, cover shots and writing a meet recap.
Zack Truitt of Landmark Christian is a contender to take the Overall title after winning at the Providence Invitational (NC at McAlpine Park). Expect a challenge upfront from Sr. Devin Wade of Whitefield Academy, followed by Jonathan Greene of Evans HS, Dominic Macias of Union Grove, the Starr's Mill's duo of Joseph Muzzilo and Matt Norton, Savian Taylor of Smith's Station along with Connor Brown of Auburn. Defending champ, Kyle Harkabus of East Coweta is entered, and could be a serious threat. Zachary Roe of Westminster also could be a force to be reckoned with after his strong race at the Kosh Classic.
Boys Team Race
In the boys team race, it is always tough to call with some teams opening up on flat fast courses and others excelling on more challenging hillier courses. Alabama squads and several Georgia teams open up their seasons this weekend.The top teams competing could be 5A defending Champ, host Starr's Mill, Auburn, Smith's Station, Landmark Christian, East Coweta and McIntosh (if they run their varsity).
Erin Fegans of Landmark Christian should be in the mix upfront (after placing 2nd at the Providence Invite) last weekend. The Auburn trio of Samantha Rodgers, Sarah Parnell and Harper McGown come should all place in the top 10. Laney Doster of Jones County is a darkhorse, and could threaten for a top spot. The chase pack could contain the Evans high school duo of soph Madison Kennedy and Katy Earwood. Sovi Wellons of The Heritage School has been running very well in GISA meets and was Independent Schools ROW for Week 2. Also in the mix for medals could be the Starr's Mill duo of Darby Olive and Hailey Ross. Note: McIntosh is resting their varsity girls this week.
Girls Team Race
Auburn is a heavy favorite to repeat as team champs, a dominant squad returning most of their top runners after winning the Alabama state title in their class the past 2 years. It could be a nice race for runnerup and 3rd place team honors. Starr's Mill hopes to finish second with 4-5 teams battling for the podium including Landmark Christian, Evans HS, Cherokee, Union Grove and McIntosh's JV girls.