2019 7A Boys state meet video
Several contenders have emerged this year. We have 2 newcomers to 7A joining the typical mainstays to make this an interesting team battle. Injuries and COVID-19 have mixed things up in XC this year, but to avoid any sort of crazy speculation, I'm going to assume teams are at full strength until otherwise noted by the athletes themselves or their coach.
Marietta: The top overall Georgia team at Coach Wood, The Blue Devils come into this State Championship as really one of the best teams of the last decade with multiple podium finishes and championships. They're always in the business now, and this year is no different. They feature a super stud in Kamari Miller who could ultimately be an all-time great by the time he graduates along with a good supporting cast in Jared Fortenberry and James May. If their 4 and 5 can close the gap, it could be yet another Blue Devil victory.
Lambert: The championship hopes of the Lambert Longhorns resides in the availability of Cooper Bocko. Assuming he's set to go, Lambert is as good a team as any. If Lambert is down Bocko, this is still a podium caliber squad that really speaks to the coaching, the talent, and the desire of this team. Colin Chapman is a great runner in his own right and should be a top 10 threat and will lead this squad as he has for over a month now. If you plug Denmark into Coach Wood, Lambert emerged as the #5 team in 7A, and this team historically runs well at Carrollton. They're also coming off a 2nd place finish in 2019 and will need the trio of Calvin Stilwell, Reid Latimer, and JT Pentland in order to repeat their previous success.
Norcross: The Norcross Blue Devils took 5th overall at Coach Wood and 2nd at Region in an interesting race where it appears they didn't run an all-out effort. Led by Miguel Schlicht, Norcross boasts a strong top 5 that can hang with basically anyone, but all will need to be on as there is a huge gap from 5 to 6. You only "need" 5, and Norcross has shown how good they can be if all 5 are on. This entire top 5 is 100% senior-laden, so perhaps that adds an intangible to this equation. Delfino Juarez, Elliott Januzelli, Eric Van Ness, and Yonas Chimbanda will try to end their careers on a high note.
Mill Creek: The much improved Mill Creek Hawks look to play spoiler for their county counterpart and anyone else ranked ahead of them who falters. Coach Christie's crew has put together a strong campaign led by one of the best duos in the entire field in juniors Ethan Nordman and Jacob Peters. Both should be considered top 10 threats, and the Region 8 titleholders will look to Aidan Van Derhei, Joseph Kim, and Lance Wells for support.
Milton: Boasting 3 seniors under 16:00 at Coach Wood, Carr's Clan has had the feeling of an upstart-style team this season. They didn't blast it out of the gates, but they've looked solid down the stretch of this season. They dominated Region 5 and arguably have, at worst, the 2nd strongest 3rd man in the field. They'll need their 4 and 5 to step up big in order to improve on their current standing, but they're a well-coached team that will not go down easily.
East Coweta: East Coweta probably had the easiest path to the State Championships as they put 6 in the top 7, so perhaps they'll feel a bit more rested than some of their competition. Either way, East Coweta took 10th at State last year and found their way into the title race at Coach Wood (taking 14th). This is an up and coming program who is showing they don't need Kyle Harkabus to remain a relevant team. Matthew Moore leads this team and looks to be supported by Logan Ray and Houstan Hamby. A strong race from their 4 and 5 could assist East Coweta in improving upon last year's State finish.
Brookwood: The Brookwood Broncos are heading in an upward trend after winning their division of Coach Wood and nipping rival Parkview at Region 4 for the title. Will Bray has been a stud in the works for 3 years now, and he leads this team which features a nice mixture of old blood (Seth Wheeler and Jackson Harper) and new blood (Kadin McAllister and Jonah Harper). This is a team with a proud history and always shows up ready to go in Carrollton. They've got the experience and the youthful bravado to make some noise on Saturday if they fire on all cylinders.
Parkview: Parkview, 9th at last year's State Championship, enters the 2020 campaign looking to improve. Andrew Todd, among the most improved runners in the field, leads this squad and looks to be supported by Caden Hall, Antonio Valenti, Martin Robles, and Heyabel Tekle. Parkview should be hungry coming off a 1 point loss to neighboring Brookwood at Region, but they'll need all 5 of their runners on if they're going to move up this list.
Other teams to consider include Archer, South Forsyth, Roswell, West Forsyth, and Walton.
Individual Championship Threats:
James May (Marietta) A 21st place Coach Wood finish, 4th place Region 3 finish, and 11th place finish at State last year all show that James May is a top 10 contender in 2020. He's been a little back and forth with teammate Jared Fortenbury (featured later) but has good course history and a team State Title to strive for as extra motivation. It's easy for runners on a team with a super stud to be forgotten about and in the shadows, but he'll look to make believers out of people come Saturday.
Jared Fortenberry (Marietta-324) Jared Fortenberry's season features several top 5 finishes and 2 strong sub-16 performances at ASICS and Coach Wood, the latter being a 16th place finisher at 15:36. The 3rd head of the Three-Headed Blue Devil Monster (dibs on that band name), Fortenberry will be key in Marietta's quest for the championship, especially if Marietta can put 3 in the top 10.
Other athletes to keep an eye on are: Noah Connelly (Harrison), the duo of Jack Petkash and Hayden Marshall (Milton), Cooper Bocko (if competing - Lambert), Jacob Peters (Mill Creek), the duo of Andrew Todd and Caden Hall (Parkview), Delfino Juarez (Norcross), Colin Chapman (Lambert), and Miles Ferguson (Archer).