2019 A Private girls State video
It all came together for Holy Innocents last season as they won the team title after chasing it down for many years. There are schools that have come and gone from this class. It was Pace for a few seasons and the same for Wesleyan before they dropped back down. With Area meets eliminated by the GHSA, this watered down the quality of the 'new' region meets. It also doubles the number of schools/athletes that qualify for the State meet.
Teams in Contention:
Hebron Christian: The Lions hopefully will have ace Brooke Browning toeing the start line at Carrollton - she did not race at Region. If so, it's game on to contend for the state title. Hebron has the strongest top three runners going in with Browning, Ellie Brewer, and Georgia Piper. Their 4-5 runners are important against a deep squad like Wesleyan. If they can put up a low number after their top three have finished, squads behind them will need to dig deep to make up the points.
Wesleyan: Much like their male counterparts, the Lady Wolves began the season slow. Through October, however, they became stronger and faster. It's been a long time since Wesleyan tasted victory at State, dating back to 2013. Some may recall the 'hullabaloo' associated with that meet. After awards had already been handed out, a decision was reached by the GHSA to declare Wesleyan co-champs with Westminster based on a video. The Wolves have no front runners, but they succeed on strong pack-running.
Holy Innocents: The Golden Bears are the defending champions and were ranked #1 much of the regular season until Hebron Christian beat them at 'Kona Ice' back on 9/26. At the Region 5-A Meet, Holy Innocents placed 2nd behind Wesleyan. Reese Neumann was MIA and has been since 'Kona Ice'. Hayden Puett and Reese Martin are the top 2 Lady Bears.
Athens Academy: The Lady Spartans ran away with the Region 8 title on their home course. The Spartan course is not the toothy monster it used to be due to construction, however. Also, they stayed close to home this season due to COVID-19. Clarke-Oconee is their most telling race, where they had a team average of 22:14. Sarah Harrison is their top runner with a SB of 19:53 on the home course.
Paideia: It's almost a miracle that the Pythons had 7 girls on the start line at Region 2-A, as they rarely fielded a full Team this season as members chose not to participate due to COVID-19 concerns. However, the #10 Paideia squad rose up at the Region 2-A Meet and raced to the Team Championship. If their top 2 runners, Jordan Walter and Luna McCauley, run strong at State, the Pythons could move up to 5th or better.
North Cobb Christian: The 7-A Region Champs have looked pretty darn good all season. The Eagles have been ranked from 4th to 6th all season long by our A Private expert. They have a potent 1-2 punch upfront including Abbie Clarke and Elizabeth Shaylor. Their 3-5 runners pack it up the entire race which bodes well for State.
Top Athletes to Watch:
Kiley Murphy (Brookstone): Murphy has to be the most improved (Elite) runner in A Private, dropping from 19:59 at Foot Locker South down to 18:08 at Coach Wood. Only a soph, Murphy placed 6th against Georgia's best that day. She is the pre-race favorite to win A-Private.
Brooke Browning (Hebron Christian): The junior from Hebron Christian was MIA at Region 5-A on 10/27. Until the emergence of Murphy, Browning was the top runner in the class. She will have a lot on her plate Saturday, with Hebron in the mix for a team title and pursuing individual honors upfront. Her SB time is a swift 18:11, achieved at the new Chatt Hills course (Asics)
Ellie Brewer (Hebron Christian): In her first year of running cross country, Brewer (junior) has been a most pleasant surprise for the Hebron program. She actually won the first race she ever had competed in at the LCA Invitational and had a nice PR of 18:26 at Asics. The sky is the limit for this newbie...
Cara Joyce (Atlanta International): Joyce is another phenom who broke out on the scene back in 2018, improving from her first race at 24:25 (Mercy) to clocking an 18:48 at Meet of Champions less than 3 months later! The 800m track and field specialist won region 5-A and had a SB time of 18:41 at Asics.
Hayden Puett (Holy Innocents-795): Puett (a senior) has emerged as the Golden Bears top runner this season. She had a strong outing at Marist Tri 9/12, clocking a 19:08, and placed 3rd at Region 5-A at 19:30.
Kendall Lynes (Savannah Christian): This junior from Savannah has been put through the wringer this season, having raced ten times and winning eight of those contests. She competed at Carrollton Ortho back on 9/12 (super-hot day) and turned in a solid 21:18.