Gwinnett County Meet Produces Hot Racing At The Horse Park

The 45th version of the Gwinnett County championships was contested once again at the Georgia International Horse Park down in Conyers. But. that didn't stop rabid fans from making the trip down to cheer on their favorite teams and athletes. Twenty high schools lined up at the start and were off and running by 8 am. There were a few schools that opted out of the meet this season (Central Gwinnett, Duluth, GAC) As the 'featured meet of the week', Gwinnett got the royal treatment with MileSplit Georgia onsite shooting race video and photos.

Race Video
Photo  Gallery
Full Results

Parkview Girls celebrate their title (photo via Parkview)

Varsity Girls
(photos below by Alex Brust)

Emma Geaney led Parkview to the county team title at 20:04.

It was a close three-team battle for the girls' title, but Parkview's top four threw down a low score making it too difficult for Mill Creek and North Gwinnett to come back from escaping with a four-point margin of victory. The Panthers' placed three runners in the top nine spots, led by Emma Geaney's third-place finish of 20:04. Sophomore, Abi Debebe placed 6th overall in 20:32, with Jamie Chen 9th at 20:52. Mill Creek was paced by Edith Kahiga who placed 7th overall in 20:47. 

Parkview packed it in early.

Panther coach Mike Demarest commented on his girls' performance, "They say the only thing harder than winning a championship is defending a championship. Mill Creek made a heck of a bid in the 3rd mile to steal it, and honestly, I thought we lost by a point or 2 at the end. I'm so proud of my girls. They're used to being the hunters and today they were the hunted. They opened up hard from the gun and got some experience running at the front. It also wore them out by the 3rd mile and they really had to battle. But these are the types of races that you look forward to as a coach. You want your crew to be battle-tested. It's not supposed to be easy. Coach Sexton's girls ran an amazing race.

Abi Debebe claimed 6th overall clocking a 20:32.

"From a coaching perspective, it's just awesome seeing my kids smile after a race like this. It's so easy to get caught up in all the negativity in the world. I don't think I'm only speaking for myself when I say that my mental health has taken a pretty good punch in the chin the last few months, so it just feels so good to see the smiles on my kids' faces after accomplishing something great in high school running. It's why I got into coaching. Coach Christie instilled the love of running in me when I was in high school, and whether we win a race or not, I want my kids to love the sport the way I do. It just doesn't get much better than having kids run up with that priceless smile because they're proud of themselves - especially nowadays when the world could use some more smiling and just love in general."

The dynamic duo of Ellie Brewer and Brooke Browning from Hebron Christian.

Hebron Christian dominated upfront as the junior duo of Brooke Browning and XC newbie Ellie Brewer controlled the race early and never looked back, sweeping the top two spots for the Lions. Browning won her second consecutive race posting the winning time of 19:29. Brewer stayed within hailing distance going 19:48.

Gwinnett County Girls Champ Brooke Browning

Coach Mike Taylor commented, "So proud of Brooke and Ellie and our whole team. There are lots of talented runners in Gwinnett County this year and Brooke and Ellie held them all off throughout the race. Brooke and Ellie started the race going out hard and never looked back. Proud of Georgia Piper as well for getting back onto the all-county team with a 13th place finish. Our girls' 5th place finish is the best finish at county by girl or boy team in school history! Lots of history made Saturday!"

Ellie Brewer of Hebron Christian had another outstanding race.

Allie Wardle from Brookwood raced to fourth place at 20:19

Karsyn Rodney of Dacula rounded out the top five going 20:29

Senior Edith Kahiga led Mill Creek to second placing 7th overall in 20:47.

Varsity Boys

The boys' championship race got the day underway. Mother nature cooperated throughout the morning at the Horse Park, it was a bit muggy with some sprinkles early, but eventually, the sun poked its head out with the breeze picking up making conditions favorable for racing. 

Miguel Schlicht of Norcross took the race out early.

The fight for the county boys team title was one for the ages... All your traditional powers in the mix, with Mill Creek (2nd), Parkview (3rd),  Archer (4th), and Brookwood (5th) separated by just eight points when it was all settled. But, a new sheriff is in town, and it's not Reggie Hammond from the movie 48 Hours. It's another very fast squad of Blue Devils and not Marietta. Norcross has established itself as a strong 7A title contender with Team Rankings coming out this coming week. They are a veteran group whose top five are seniors. The Devils had a 1-5 Split of 1:03 and a team average of 17:08. Miguel Schlicht led the way again placing fourth overall at 16:35, and Delfino Juarez took 10th place at 16:56. 

Delfino Juarez was 10th for Norcross posting a 16:56

Will Bray of Brookwood, Ben Butcher of Dacula, and Schlicht pull away from the chase pack.

Will Bray of Brookwood came out of a strong group chasing Schlicht of Norcross, passing many runners entering the fray for individual honors, and pulled away taking the county title posting a 16:17. Coach Ben Dehnke commented on his race, "I'm really proud of Will's perseverance. He really broke out as a sophomore, and he's been near the top in the county meet for the past couple of years."

Will Bray brings it coming down the stretch.
"On Saturday, he ran a perfect race in many respects. He showed that he knows how to run well on that tough course layout and executed a patient race plan. Overall, he is a joy to coach - he buys into our team ideals, works very hard, and responds well to coaching. He sets a positive example for his younger teammates, and he's a great representative of our team."

Andrew Todd was county runner-up crossing the mats at 16:29

Sebastian Rodriguez of Archer (16:44) holds off Ethan Nordman of Mill Creek (16:45) for 5th place.