A Sprint Finish to November: Unsung Heroes Week 9

Zakariye Abdulahi (#484) from Decatur is one of the boys winners this week. Photo by Alex Burst.

A Sprint Finish to November: Unsung Heroes Week 9

The last week before the region meets begin has come and gone, and it did not disappoint. An amazing 21 high school meets were held around the state this week, not counting the middle school championships. There were county championships on the line, pre-region tune-ups, and, of course, Coach Wood, which was billed as the "All-Class state meet." While that might be a slight exaggeration, it was an incredibly fast and exciting meet. In the Championship races, Mill Creek edged Decatur on the boys' side (and both took down Alabama powerhouse Scottsboro), and Caroline Hood came out on top over Ruby Little in their trilogy race, but Little could be satisfied with a massive team victory. While the top runners on each team deservedly garner most of the attention, today we will focus on runners who were not the top runner for their team this week. These runners are just as essential for team success--after all, it takes at least 5 runners to even score in a meet. Without further ado, here are the Unsung Heroes for Week 9! 

As always, "Unsung Heroes" recognizes some great individual or team performances from this past week across the state of Georgia that might have flown under the radar or gone under-appreciated  One "winner" or "honorable mention" is selected from each of the 8 GHSA classifications for both boys and girls. Enjoy!

Boys Winners

Keyvian Davis, Wilcox County (1A Public): 19:11 at The Red Flame Classic, 6th

With most of the Georgia XC eyeballs focused on the Coach Wood meet this weekend, it was easy to forget the many smaller schools that were battling it out elsewhere. At the Red Flame Classic, Keyvian Davis was busy running a lifetime best by about 40 seconds. The senior from Wilcox County packs a potent 1-2 punch with fellow senior Kadarreous Coney, and his improvement from last season is remarkable, as he has improved his personal best by two and a half minutes! That is a difference of almost a half-mile in a 5k, and definitely deserves special mention.

Zakariye Abdulahi, Decatur (5A): 16:44 at Coach Wood Invitational, 80th in Championship race

Well, just what the rest of the state was afraid would happen came to fruition this past Saturday. Decatur dominated two weeks ago at the Asics Invitational-until their fifth runner was scored. Abdulahi fixed the fifth-runner problem for Decatur in a hurry with an almost unbelievable performance. His 16:44 was over 50 seconds better than his previous season best and went down as the third-best #5 runner performance in the Championship race. Good luck stopping Decatur for the rest of the season!

Diego Fernandes, West Forsyth (7A): 16:51 at Pickens & Grinnin' Invitational, 3rd (Friday)

The Pickens & Grinnin' Invitational always draws some great competition, even when it is held during the same weekend as Coach Wood. The Friday race was packed with large schools with great XC programs like Milton, Creekview, and Woodland. West Forsyth, however, easily won the meet with 3 of its runners in the top 4. Fernandes finished second for the Wolverines, and with a PR of 16:10, he will be a key contributor as West Forsyth attempts to win their first-ever state title this fall. 

Boys Honorable Mention

Drew Beedle, Athens Christian (1A Private): 18:09 at Kent Kramer Classic, 4th

Conner Mullen, Worth County (2A): 17:21 at Red Flame Classic, 2nd

William Knight, East Forsyth (3A): 17:48 at Mountain Invitational, 10th

Hugh Carney, Columbus (4A): 17:32 at MCSD City Championship, 5th

Dylan Overbey, Richmond Hill (6A): 16:04 at TraXC 2021, 2nd

Girls Winners

Kate Britt, Savannah Christian (1A Private): 22:11 at Mile Farm Invitational, 2nd

The 7th Mile Farm Invitational saw 103 women duking it out in Statesboro, and Britt finished second, just behind teammate Kendall Lynes. This was nothing new for Britt, as it was her fourth race this year finishing second behind Lynes. Britt ran a season-best 21:12 two weeks ago, and if she continues beating runners from every other team in the state, Savannah Christian Prep could find themselves with two top-10 runners in the state meet. 

Nicole Pizzo, Marist (4A): 18:34 at Coach Wood Invitational, 9th in Championship race 

As large as the Championship race at Wingfoot was earlier in the season, Coach Wood's Championship race was more than twice as large. It's that that much more impressive, then, that Pizzo improved her place from 16th at Wingfoot to 9th at Coach Wood. Running a 40-second season best time surely doesn't hurt! Pizzo looks to cap off her season competing with the lead pack in 4A led by teammate Ruby Little, and lead Marist to their 13th state title in 14 seasons. Relatedly: Marist now has 7 of the top 10 runners (by season PR) in 4A this year.

Sydney Lowe, Alexander (6A): 20:54 at Douglas County Championship, 3rd

Alexander dominated the Douglas County Championships, placing 5 runners in the top 6 places. While stellar sophomore Brooklyn Crabtree will grab most of the attention for Alexander, senior Lowe is putting together a very impressive campaign herself. Her time this weekend was her fastest of the season and just eight seconds off of her lifetime best. Lowe is a key component of Alexander's tight 2-4 grouping that will have to be on their "A" game to deliver the Cougars a podium spot at the state meet. In the meantime, Lowe can admire her bronze medal from the county championship.

Girls Honorable Mention

Madi McMahan, McIntosh County Academy (1A Public): 22:54 at TraXC 2021, 7th

Zoie Marchant, Jeff Davis (2A): 20:47 at Wayne County Home Meet #3, 7th

Emma Lightsey, White County (3A): 22:17 at Mountain Invitational, 12th

McKinsey Spinks, Cartersville (5A): 21:59 at Cass-Cartersville Invitational, 1st

Calista Cacciatore, Milton (7A): 20:04 at Pickens & Grinnin' Invitational, 3rd (Friday)