Cara Joyce leading the girls race at about 1200m into the race. Photo by Erin Petkash
Lambert defends the Eagle Cup with a narrow tie-breaking victory!
The 8th Milton XC Invitational was the largest meet ever contested on Milton's course with 26 schools and over 1300 runners and the Longhorns of Lambert were able to defend their Eagle Cup Title.
The Lady Bears of Cambridge (1st 81 pts) got a 1-point win over host Milton (2nd-82 pts) as the in-town rivals did battle on the Lady Eagles tough on-campus course. Cambridge (ranked 4th in 6A) used a tight group of their 3-5 finishers to just edge out Milton (ranked 11th in 7A). But those two teams easily separated themselves from some very strong programs as Lambert (3rd-129 pts) (ranked 4th in 7A) and Dunwoody (4th-130 pts) (ranked 10th in 7A) and South Forsyth (5th-147 pts) (ranked 5th in 7A) were way in arrears from the top-2 teams! Individually senior Cara Joyce (1st-20:17) of Atlanta International led a big group of 9 girls through 2 miles and then began to assert herself but couldn't shake sophomore Clare Shelton (2nd-20:22) of Dunwoody until the last 400 meters of the race to get the overall win. Joyce & Shelton ran the 9th & 11th best times ever on the Milton course. The Yonas sisters of South Forsyth followed (Carmel-3rd-20:32 & Isabel-4th-20:39) with Anna Filipek (5th-20:46) leading the Bears of Cambridge just ahead of Milton's duo of Ella Grace Malcom (6th-20:53) & Farrah Frith (7th-20:56) with Malcom running a 1-second course personal best.
The Wolverines of West Forsyth (1st-70 pts) continued their winning ways with a 19-point win over region rival Lambert (2nd-89 pts) with their first two finishers in the top-10 & their 3rd in 11th. The Longhorns put themselves into the picture to win the Eagle Cup with their 38-point spread over 3rd place Sequoyah (3rd-127 pts) who in-turn upset 7A Milton (4th-147 pts) that put the Eagles into a tie for the Eagle Cup with the Longhorns! The Bears of Cambridge (5th-176 pts) the defending state 6A champions were well behind this top-4 group of teams. Leading the boys and continuing his undefeated season was South Forsyth's Ben Bergey (1st-17:05) running the 6th best performance ever on the course and just missed making the top-5 billboard sign that sits at the home Eagles finish line. Bergey took command early and was never really threatened. The runner-up race between Lyle Donovan (2nd-17:23) of Cambridge & Trent Bell of West Forsyth (3rd-17:29) was a good one with Donovan pulling away very late in the closing stages of the race. Donovan's performance was the 11th best all-time on the course so the great conditions produced some historically significant times on the tough Milton layout. Dillon Watson (4th-17:46) of Woodstock & Josh Helms (5th-17:48) of the surprising Sequoyah squad rounded out the top-5 individual finishers.
The Eagle Cup is awarded to the winning team that places high in all six races conducted at the meet with Open/JV/Varsity races a part of the team scoring with emphasis on the varsity teams getting significantly more points. After the dust settled from the boys' varsity race, both Lambert (1st-11 pts) & Milton (2nd-11 pts) were tied with Cambridge (3rd-10 pts) & West Forsyth (4th-7 pts) & Chamblee (5th-4 pts) out of contention. The first tiebreaker is the combined team scores from BOTH team's varsity points. Lambert (218 pts, combining their 89 pts from the boys & 129 points from the girls) narrowly edged Milton (229 pts, combining their 147 pts from the boys & 82 points from the girls) to retain the Eagle Cup Award for another year.