GHSA XC 2A State Meet Preview: Will Pace Get Job Done?

If you've never watched the 2A boys race from 2020 it's worth a watch as it was an absolute classic between two of the best teams in the state that year. This is a new year though so we will see what happens.

Georgia State Meet Page

Meet Previews by Class:
1A Pub. |
1A Priv. 2A | 3A | 4A | 5A | 6A | 7A Boys | 7A Girls

2A Boys Team Preview

Low sticks, large splits, and pack running. These are all words you are going to hear across AA over the next week leading into the race at Carrollton. Barring a catastrophe, Pace Academy and Lovett have the first two podium spots on lockdown, with Pace getting their revenge on Lovett from last year and securing the state crown. The next two podium spots are in the sights of several public schools across the state. Bleckley County is no stranger to the podium and they are primed to be there again. The question with Bleckley is can their freshman handle the state championship atmosphere for the first time? Bremen is another yearly contender that is sharpening their skills and are ready to claim a podium spot. We know Model has a low stick and they could easily claim a spot on the podium. Banks County claimed the third spot last year and with Ledford leading the way they could be back there again, however, their over three minute split could dispel their hopes. Jeff Davis made their way to the podium last year and with all five runners returning, their experience on the course could play dividends. No matter what happens Friday morning, there will be some great racing to start off State Championship weekend. 

Boys Individual Preview

Blaha at Carrollton Ortho. Photo by Marc Logan

Back to back is the name of the game. Columbia commit Edward Blaha hopes to add another individual state championship to his resume. Last year he won with a 16:28, how much lower does he go, or if he has no one pushing him, does he coast to a victory?

Schabort at Ortho earlier this year. Photo by Marc Logan

Junior Simon Schabort laid down a blazing fast 15:22 at Darlington this year and could be the one that pushes Blaha throughout the race. Earlier in the year at the Orthopaedic Schabort finished 6th, two spots behind Blaha and only sixteen seconds behind. 

Ledford winning the Mountain Invitational earlier this year. Photo by Alex Burst

Buck Ledford knows how to win, all season he has finished either 1st or 2nd. He's never tasted the 15s, however, he will come in with a load of confidence after winning his last two races, the Mountain Invitational and 8-AA, which was held as the same course, in the hills of Helen, at Unicoi State Park.

Pace's #2, Grant Thompson was not at Carrollton in September but finished fourth at state last year. Since winning the Zach Wansley Invite in August with a 15:57, Thompson has hovered in the 16s all season long. Does Thompson try to go all out or be happy with being second on the team and help carry them to a team title?

Others to watch: Luke Churchwell (Bleckley), Hunt Shurling (Lovett), George Blaha (Pace), Evan Zupko (Worth), and Owen Clotfelter (Bremen).

2A Girls Team Preview

The girls team title is likely already decided.  The Pace program has a significant lead over the rest of the field, a lead that shouldn't evaporate even with an off day by the Lady Knights.  Only region rival Lovett and public powerhouse Bleckley County can make a run at the Ladies Knight of Pace, but even then everything must go right for either of those teams to even make it close.  Lovett is the second best team but don't count out the Lady Royals of Bleckley to make a run at the runner-up spot. Coach Crandford's Bleckley teams are always well prepared and run their best when it counts the most.  Some of the best racing however is going to be for that final 2A podium spot.  Region foes Vidalia and Jeff Davis have battled it out all year, while neither have seen Oglethorpe head to head this year; this will be an interesting scenario to watch unfold. Vidalia is the more balanced 1-5 group of the three teams, while Oglethorpe has the two low sticks in Henderson and Wadsworth.  Both of these teams however are only running with six runners so depth can be an issue if someone has an off day.  Jeff Davis on the other hand is the deeper of the three teams.  Having a solid low stick, a pack to support and a solid sixth and seventh runner that could give them the advantage.  Teams like Fannin, Rabun, and Union have had solid seasons but are on the outside looking in for that final podium spot.  Individual runners from teams not currently listed could also impact the outcome of team standings, as the individual field is deeper than it has been over the last several years.

Girls Individual Preview

Hood has already won once at Carrollton this year. Photo by Marc Logan.

Mary Parish Green from Lovett should finish high up as well. Photo by Marc Logan.

Tristen Crosby has experience on this course as the top returner. Photo by Marc Logan

A new individual champion will be crowned during the 2021 awards ceremonies as 2020 champion Sydney Lamberson (Lovett) graduated.  The top returning runners from 2020 championship race Tristen Crosby (Bleckley), Sophia Cook (Coosa), and Ellie Wildman (Lovett) will be in the mix for the title but will have some ground to make up as they are not the favorites coming into the 2021 championship.  Caroline Hood (Pace) is the clear favorite as she has the top time in all classes this year at 17:36.  Teammate Laura Arenth has the next best time at 18:34 and will have to battle with Mary Parrish Green (Lovett) who has run 18:44.  These two have only seen each other at the Region 6AA Championships.  Arenth has the clear advantage as she has more experience as a senior and also at the state course, as this will be Green's first look at the state course as the Lovett freshmen did not run the Ortho meet in September.

Others to watch: Kate Jonas (Pace), Jordan White (Pace), Abby Newton (Lovett), Zoie Marchant (Jeff Davis), Sarah Owen (Vidalia), Sydnie Henderson (Oglethorpe), Lizzie Wadsworth (Oglethorpe), Piper Simpson (Bleckley)