Deerfield-Windsor 2018 Champs
(by Jake Clawson)
The GISA State Championship returns to the campus of Albany State University-West(formerly Darton College) after a four year hiatus. With host school Deerfield-Windsor departing for the GHSA in August of 2020 this is likely the final time that Albany will host the GISA Championship. A particularly hot and dry South Georgia fall has made for less than ideal racing conditions for the bulk of the season, but the flat, two loop course and anticipated cool temperatures should produce some personal bests if the course is able to dry off after some midweek rain.
The Deerfield-Windsor and Augusta Prep boys have combined to win the past three GISA titles, and this year looks to be no different. Each team posted easy wins at their region meets, coasting to perfect scores. Augusta Prep won the only direct head-to-head match-up on September 14th in Albany. The two schools ran in different races at ASICS, and although Deerfield had a faster team average, Augusta Prep was running without two of its seniors. The virtual meet gives Augusta Prep a 10 point edge over Deerfield (30-40), and the Cavaliers will undoubtedly have the advantage of a veteran team led by three returning all-state performers who came up one point short against the Knights last year. Deerfield has three returners from last year's team, and will look for four new varsity athletes - including two 8th graders - to give chase to the Cavaliers. The battle for third looks to be between Westminster Augusta, John Milledge Academy, and The Heritage School.
In the race for the individual crown, the meet features last year's defending champion in Deerfield-Windsor's Porter Hill, as well as Augusta Prep's Jack Collier and Heritage's Koby Lord, who finished 2nd and 3rd a year ago in Americus. Three new faces have, however, posted faster times this year: Hayes Trapp(15:59) and Ben Monnig(16:47) of Augusta Prep, and Graham Ford(16:37) of Deerfield-Windsor. Trapp is a racer and one of the more talented freshmen in the state and should be favored.
The last time Albany hosted a GISA Championship, the Lady Knights of Deerfield-Windsor walked away with their first - and only - state title on the grass. They will look to win again, but will have plenty of competition standing in their way. Augusta Prep's girls are defending state champions and, despite having lost some key seniors from last year's squad, bring back a strong nucleus of talented athletes with championship experience. Meanwhile, Valwood's Lady Valiants pushed Deerfield at Saturday's region meet in Americus and should also contend. Frederica Academy of St. Simon's does not run many big invitationals, but should be looking to win after their surprise third place finish at last year's state meet. The virtual meet has Deerfield with 47, Augusta Prep with 71, Valwood with 92, and Frederica with 123, but with all four teams being on the same course on the same day, the race should be competitive.
At last year's GISA Championship a pack of five raced each other through 2 miles before Trinity Christian's Karmen Leroy managed to pull away for the win. Leroy is gone, but three of those girls - Heritage's Sovi Wellons, Deerfield's Charlotte Augenstein, and John Milledge's Emery Ryan - return and will look to win the individual crown in their senior campaigns. Wellons has posted this fall's fastest time in the GISA with an 18:28. Augenstein, meanwhile, is the defending state champion on the track at 800m and 1600m and finished runner-up last year in cross country. Ryan won the Region 4 title and will look to challenge both. Also worth keeping an eye on is Augusta Prep 8th grader Aine Trapp, who ran 20:21 on this same course at the Deerfield-Windsor Invitational in September. Others to watch are Janie Samson of Trinity Christian and Amy Riordan of Augusta Prep.
Emery Ryan and Amy Riordan
2018 AA Runnerups Monsignor Donovan
Last season, Monsignor Donovan out of Athens were team runnerups. But, the Rams' have picked up the pace in 2019 and are the team to beat in AA having a season best overall average time of 18:17 which is 1:05 faster than First Presbyterian Christian out of Hinesville. They also could put up to 4 runners in the top 10. FPCA will be busy dueling with The Cottage School (who are the defending AA Champs) and seem like a lock for at worst 3rd as a team.
There will be a new Individual Champ, as it turns out Asad Bashir of Fugees Academy was actually a senior as he is now running in college for Flagler. St. George's Episcopal graduated their top 2 and Terrell Academy (currently) not registered in the database. Will Auslander has been the best in AA this Fall having a pr of 17:15 at Winder-Barrow. Larry Orsini of The Cottage School finished 2nd overall last year. Nevan Norrell of Monsignor ran 18:14 at Coach Wood 3 weeks ago.
The AA Girls should have a new champion this Saturday based on the MileSplit database, as 2018 champ Fugees Academy seems to be going thru the motions this Fall based on their times. AA has never been a strong class teamwise, with some schools having not raced in a single meet that submitted results to MileSplit, much like Oak Mountain Academy who boasts having the Individual Champ last Fall in Anna Bartlett. Brentwood School (Sandersville) is the favorite having 4 runners with pr's of 24:15 and faster including Lauren Hood at 22:22 Oak Mountain (based on 2018) have their top 3 back. Its a mystery after these 2 teams.
This could be an interesting race for the Individual title.. Anna Bartlett of Oak Mountain Academy comes in as the defending champ, but has not competed in a single race that turned in results to MileSplit. The freshman had a swift time of 20:31 in the State Meet (2018) Allie Brown of Crisp Academy did record a 20:37 at the Darton College course a few weeks back and Lauren Hood of Brentwood could be in the mix.