2020 GHSA XC State: Wesleyan Girls Rule, Murphy Triumphs

Wesleyan's Girls are the 2020 A Private team champs
(photos by Marc Logan)

It's been a while, but Wesleyan's girls are back on top. Since that infamous debacle back in 2013 where awards had been handed out, awards ceremony ending and then a 'hold on there Bobbaloui' moment as Quick Draw McGraw used to exclaim (a cartoon) Someone produced a photo/video, then the official finish line footage was reviewed and GHSA came to a conclusion that both squads would be co-champions (Wesleyan was one of these) This led eventually to chips on both shoes at State. Okay, enough for the history lesson. 

Wesleyan girls pack it up during a rainstorm

The Lady Wolves basically used the same strategy at State they employed at region 5-A. Very tight pack-running. Their top finisher was senior, Katherine Graddy who was 20th overall in 21:59. But, hold the presses, their 1-5 runners had a crazy team split of 25 seconds! (19+22+24+25+28) Coaches with teams in contention had to be doing a lot of math quickly trying to come up with a quick score. And, the good news for Wesleyan is their 2-5 are all juniors.

Coach McDaniel proudly allowed, "I cannot describe the feeling I got when we found out that the girls won, and that is a moment I will never forget. To win a state championship with your first finisher being in 20th place is a rare feat and all credit goes to Chris Yoder for developing and implementing our strategy with the girls. Katherine Graddy ran a lifetime PR on Saturday at Carrollton and she is a kid who has faced one injury after another. That was only the 16th race of her career. You always try to keep your kids mentally and emotionally engaged when they are injured and she did that better than any kid I've ever coached. She is such an incredible kid and it was so awesome to see her lead the team in the final race of her career."

Kiley Murphy from Brookstone (Columbus)

Kiley Murphy of Brookstone School quickly established herself as the runner to beat in A Private this Fall. She hung with the 'big girls' at Coach Wood placing 6th. She quickly took the lead in the race Saturday and won by almost 100 meters posting the 7th fastest time of the GHSA XC Championships at 19:10.

Cara Joyce of Atlanta International

Joyce of Atlanta International qualified an individual qualifier out region 5-A, as strangely enough,  AIS was unable to field much of a team this season possibly due to the pandemic. The junior finished a strong 2nd overall at 19:35.

Hayden Puett of Holy innocents

The Golden Bear senior moved into the #1 spot on her team and had a great season. Puett placed 3rd overall at 20:00 leading Holy Innocents to a 2nd place team podium spot. If not for losing Reese Neumann for the season due to injury, the prospects for winning state would have improved.

Kendall Lynes from Savannah Christian Prep

Junior, Kendall Lynes has not lost a race all season long and carried that confidence into the race Saturday. The hills were not much of a factor to the lowlander from Savannah as she placed 4th overall at 20:08.

Ellie Brewer of Hebron Christian

Like Joyce from AIS two years ago, Brewer was a newcomer to cross country. But actually won the first HS race she competed in at the LCA Invitational in August. The Hebron Christian junior had a strong race at State taking 5th overall at 20:16 leading the Lions to a 4th place team finish.

Davis McLanahan of Athens Academy

McLanahan of Athens Academy was the Spartans top runner on Saturday placing 12th helping secure a third-place team finish.