2020 Middle School State: Gibbs Shatters State Course Record

Ella Gibbs of Bleckley County MS now owns the fastest time on the newer 2017 course layout at the Georgia Middle School State Cross Country Championships at 12:03!

The 2020 Georgia Middle School State Cross Country Championship once again was simply incredible. Coach Cranford's 'army' of long-time volunteers executed their tasks to perfection, the meet ran off on-time like clockwork, the racing was very exciting, and fans were engaged supporting their respective teams' full throat. Fast Feet's Karl Brust, was flawless timing the meet. A special thanks to Rich Castro and Alex Brust who made the long trip down from up north, shooting race video and photos. The only concerns voiced were about dust getting stirred up on the backside of the course. the Photo Gallery has already been posted and Race Video is now LIVE! 


Ella Gibbs dominated the field with a record-setting performance of 12:03

It was Ella Gibb's day to shine... Using extensive knowledge of her home course, Gibbs owned the turf Saturday morning.  Ella dominated the field, after getting blocked in at the start by overly aggressive and less experienced runners and patiently waited for an opening and quickly took the race, never challenged or looking back. Normally, runners will just go on cruise control when the outcome is not in doubt, but not Gibbs. Ella pushed herself to the brink, and crossed the mats at 12:03, breaking the course record (on the updated, tougher, 2017 course layout) held by Claire Petersen in 2019 (now at Blessed Trinity HS) of 12:16. Elizabeth Stamey of High Meadows placed 2nd going 12:42, with Mary Parrish Green of Lovett clocking a 12:46. 

Shari Brown of Landmark Christian and Mary Parrish Green of Lovett locked in a duel

This was a great race for the team title between ATL private school Lovett and meet host Bleckley County. These 2 schools had the fastest team averages of the meet, with Lovett going 13:29 with Bleckley MS at 13:33 Some of these girls can look forward to seeing each other again down the trail for a few years, as both high schools are 2A. Lovett took the win by 11 points being a little better on the front end than the Royals' who were pushed on by their fans. Mary Parrish Green led the Lions placing 3rd overall at 12:46, but the key to the win as their 2-4 runners finished 7, 8, 9 including Mary Poole Smith, Abby Newton, and Kate Coker. Ella Gibbs led Bleckley with her top performance of the meet at 12:01 setting a new course state record and Lily Farrell was 10th overall. 


Luke Swent (L) of St. Benedict's Episcopal leads Briggs Dominy of Bleckley County MS

A nice battle for the individual title went on between St. Benedict's Luke Swenk and Briggs Dominy from Bleckley for most of the race until Swenk pulled away the final 800m securing the win going 11:09, also was the MS Boys Top Performer of the Meet. His time of 11:09 set a new record on the newer course layout as well. Dominy did the home folks proud taking runner-up honors clocking an 11:21. Loden Kohrman of King's Ridge Christian earned 3rd place overall posting a time of 11:44.  

Lovett's boy's team win made it a clean sweep of the Small School team titles for the ATL based private school. Even without having a runner in the top 10, the Lions produced a 12:49 team average with a 1-5 split of 36 seconds which put them over the top by 31 points. Leading the way was Hall Wildman placing 12th and Will Mauldin 14th. Bleckley County had a great race finishing 2nd team-wise led by Dominy's 2nd place effort with William Dykes finishing 11th.  Pace Academy made the long trek down to Cochran worth the drive claiming the 3rd place team hardware sparked by Ford Jordan's 6th place run of 12:08. 


Jackson Hogsed of Riverwatch MS was the first champ of the day winning Large School Boys.

The Large School boys got the championship races underway Saturday morning. It was a great race and had by far the largest, most vociferous fans of the meet. Jackson Hogsed of Riverwatch displayed why he earned 'Runner of the Week' honors several times, as he led the race early, never looking back clocking a time of 11:17. 

Jacob Tarkington led Taylor Road MS to the Large School Boys team title. 

Taylor Road MS showed proved why they in the MS team rankings, as the Cougars survived a tough battle against Richmond Hill MS taking the crown by 7 points. Jacob Tarkington led the attack for Taylor Road placing 2nd overall going 11:39. They had the fastest average team time of the meet at 12:28 with a 1-5 split of 1:30. Richmond Hill was a very strong team runner-up with a gulf of 71 points over 3rd place Dacula having a team average of 12:33 as Chris Rogero was their top harrier at 12:03. Corbin Squires led the Falcons of Dacula having a 3rd place individual effort of 11:45. 


Abigail Hotard wins the Large School girl's title.

Audrey Hotard (745) was Large School Girls runner-up

The Hotard twins (Audrey and Abigail) decided to represent Habersham MS down in Cochran Saturday, and did they ever! From the crack of the starting gun until passing underneath the wooden finish 'arch', Audrey and Abigail worked together sweeping the top two spots in the race. Abigail crossed the mats at 12:42 followed by Audrey at 12:44. Faira Fenton of Mill Creek MS had a surprising 3rd place finish of 12:53.

Emma Webb led the Lady Wolves of Buford MS to the team title.

In the largest race of the meet having 192 athletes, the Wolves of Buford MS walloped the field scoring 66 points with a victory margin of 53 points. Emma Webb leads the way to the team title placing 5th overall at 13:26. Richmond Hill ended up taking home another 2nd place team trophy after the meet. Julia Anastasio had a nice race finishing 4th overall clocking a 13:23. Dean Rusk MS earned a spot on the Podium finishing 3rd as a team led by the 7th place effort of Rebekah Rogers (12:28)


John Dodson of St. James Catholic motored to the Medium School boy's overall title.

John Dodson just raced at Bleckley Invitational back on 10/8 winning the JV race on the Royals'11:46.  most difficult HS course layout. Saturday's championship race was much easier for him after that, as Dodson cruised to the Medium School overall title going 11:10 in the 2nd fastest time of the meet. Sawyer McGinnis from Crisp MS has raced here before and used that experience to capture 2nd place at 11:36. Morgan County's Sam Wingfield had a great year up in northeast Georgia and concluded it with a3rd place finish of 

Wyatt Windham of Lumpkin County was key in they're capturing the Medium School boys team title.

Who would have possibly thought that Lumpkin County MS would win the Medium School boys championship? These guys literally came out of nowhere, swooped in, and vanquished some stellar squads from northeast GA. The larger question is, will this translate into success on the HS level for Lumpkin County? Wyatt Windham led the Indian's ambush placing 5th overall going 12:06. It should come as no surprise that the next 5 schools after Lumpkin have all raced against each other up north. Malcom Bridge raced to the runner-up spot on the Podium without a runner in the top 10 spots. North Hall MS was 8 points back claiming 3rd as a team behind Bryant Young's 4th place effort at 11:56.


Jessie Dubnik from  North Hall and Ava Marsh of Marist took it to the wire in the Medium School girls race.

Jessie Dubnick of North Hall MS fought off a huge challenge by Ava Marsh from Marist, and Hayden Hand of Dawson County to win the medium school individual title. These girls were all chasing the race leader Clodagh O'Bryant of North Hall until she dropped out of the race. It was an all-out mad dash to the finish line for the girls in the pic above (watch the video) after they rounded the final turn. Dubnik held on to her lead taking the title at 12:56.08 with Marsh next at 12:57.48, who nipped Hand of Dawson County (12:57.68) The team race in Medium School girls was much closer than the final results indicate. Marist,  as usual, took care of business winning the team hardware by 47 points over 2nd place North Hall (though it could have been much closer) East Jackson had a great race as the Eagles ended up 3rd in the team standings led by Courtney Cameron's 7th place finish. 


Thomas Latham of Run Hero to Zero was never pushed taking the Boys Club Championship title.

What could have been really great is if we could have watched all the top middle school boys in the same race together going head to head... It really is sad how the pandemic has wiped out Foot Locker South. The strongest boys runner I noticed this year was Thomas Latham of Run Here to Zero at the Bob Roller Invitational. Latham did not disappoint, as he flew around the course, never challenged or pushed taking the Club title at 11:17 (warmest, dustiest conditions of the day) There was a nice battle going on the whole race behind him with 5 runners engaged throughout. Ben Winn of Great Strides outlasted the pack taking runner-up honors going 11:57 while leading his club squad to the team title as well. Brock Brush represented Jefferson Parks and Recreation in the meet and claimed 3rd overall at 11:59. 

Ben Winn led a very strong Great Strides squad to victory in the Club boys race. 


Eva Murphy (r) of Georgia Elite Youth held on at the end winning the individual title for Club girls.

Eva Murphy of Georgia Elite Youth pushed herself literally to the brink in the Club Girls championship race. Murphy hung tough on the uphill finish, with Amelia Ogden of Great Strides closing fast crossing the mats first at 12:52 then collapsed against the timing platform (gutty) Ogden sped across 2nd posting a 12:53, followed by Erin O'Brien of Brookwood Youth, who sparked her squad to an upset over Great Strides by four points. 

Erin O'Brien led Brookwood Youth to an upset win over Great Strides in the Club Girls race.