Region Madness: Week One Racing Brought Upsets and Pain

Daybreak at the Horse Park.

Week one of 'Region Madness' was a bonanza of hard-fought races for metro Atlanta large schools 7A and 6A. There were some upsets as well as teams falling just short of qualifying for Carrollton that would have made the state races more competitive. If you surf the results on the 'Scoreboard', one will also discover quite a few teams that do not belong on that starting line in front of 'porta-potty row'. Every year at Carrollton the pa announcer does his spiel, ending with something like, "you, are the best teams in class __ this season, etc, etc. Wouldn't it be refreshing if that was the case? 

Week 1 Recap

Riverwood's girls won a wild 7-AAAAAA girls race!

The hottest race of the week was fittingly contested at Boling Park, which has a reputation of producing fast times for nearly two decades. One should have expected nothing less than a barnburner as 7 of the top 11 squads in 6A got in their box and awaited the firing of the pistol. Riverwood won as expected going 2, 3,5  with 46 points. 6th ranked River Ridge was strong taking runner-up. Only 8 points back, a 6th runner tiebreak separated 3rd place squads Sequoyah and Cambridge slamming the door to State' shut on Johns Creek 4 points back in 5th, along with Creekview and Centennial. What a race that was...

#1Denmark cruised in 5-AAAAAAA

The Great Danes have been perched at #1 all-classes for three weeks now and they continue to get stronger. Their top five was too deep for any other squads to pose a threat in region 6. They will look to improve upon 2019's state meet performance where they were favored in 5A. West Forsyth had a good day besting a strong Gainesville squad by 3 points as the Wolverines will move on to Carrollton. The Red Elephants had a tight 1-5 split of :32, but West Forsyth had a pair of runners finish 3rd and 4th which was key. 

Etowah is the 5-AAAAAAA girl's team champ.

This was another region meet that the top three schools finished where they should have based on how they ran in October, but that fourth and final team spot up for grabs. Etowah took care of business taking the win, while Roswell and Milton were fighting tooth and nail for runner-up team honors. Woodstock claimed that final ticket by having a deeper squad, posting a 1-5 split of 1:06 leaving county neighbor Cherokee at home just 3 points back. 

Milton's boys pose for a photo-op after winning 5-AAAAAAA

The boy's championship race was similar except for the order of finish as Milton won the team hardware, followed by Roswell and Etowah. Cherokee's boys flipped the script though on Woodstock, seizing 4th as a team beating Woodstock by 2 points. 

Mill Creek girls took the 8-AAAAAAA title.

Region 8 in Class 7A sure isn't your daddy's old region 8 back when the largest class was 6A. There were some terrific races back in the day... #5 Mill Creek held serve at the Horse Park winning the team title over 9th ranked North Gwinnett. What was interesting was Collins Hill's girls having no team score as things have changed over in Suwanee the past couple of seasons. 

Mill Creek's boys made it a sweep for the Hawks' in 8-AAAAAAA.

The outcome of the boy's race came as no shocker with Mill Creek making it a program sweep in region 8. 

Discovery boys qualify for State!

Good things can and will happen when an experienced coach who has won state titles takes over a program. Coach Wesley Etienne led the Clarkston boys to a 3-peat in class AAAAA from 2014-2016. A 7A school is bound to have some talent, and he got these guys to compete in region 7, as Discovery qualified for the State XC meet for the first time in school history!

The 7A Gainesville HS cross country teams had a great 2020 season.

Gainesville HS had an outstanding regular season in 2020. Moving up from Class 6A and landing in a region comprised of large, powerful Forsyth County xc programs. The Red Elephants should be proud of what they accomplished and run with their heads held high. 

Carrollton swept the team titles in 5-AAAAAA.

This is an example of how a top coach can come into a program and change the fortunes of both squads. Coach Sorrells enjoyed immense success while at Flowery Branch HS winning four state boy's titles beginning in 2008. Carrollton's squads defeated fast Alexander at region 5 and their guys are ranked #1 in 6A. look for their girls to possibly challenge for a top 5 spot on their home course come November 6th. 

Carrollton Girls are region champs.

Starr's Mill boys triumphed in 2-AAAAA.

There was a surprising qualifier for the state meet out of this region. Yes, Starr's Mill won on their home course as forecasted. But, Northgate out of Newnan bested a perennially strong McIntosh team finishing 2nd. Harris County brought their 'A' game Saturday and was an unexpected 4th punching their ticket to State'. 

Union Grove's girls won the 3-AAAAA title besting Jones County.

Luke Gaddis of Chestatee won region 8-AAAA at North Oconee (IdentiLynx photo)

Over in 8-AAAA, Chestatee's #2 ranked boy's squad took care of business dispatching the field led by Luke Gaddis' swift time of15:33. As expected, Flowery Branch, Jefferson, and North Oconee will move on to State'. The 2nd ranked Jefferson girls top five all finished in the top 10, beating a game Flowery Branch squad and host school North Oconee.