Georgia XC 6A State Meet Preview: Another Cluster Of Crazy?

The 6A Boys race last year was pure chaos. And it's set up to be the same again this year

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Meet Previews by Class:

1A Pub. | 1A Priv. | 2A | 3A | 4A 5A | 6A | 7A Boys | 7A Girls

6A State Meet Preview

The 6A race last year produced the most unpredictable results of any classification, especially the boys race (see video above). They really had the worst conditions of anybody last year, and yes that includes those who had to race in the rain on Saturday. The heat that came at the noon hour last year just made them see so much carnage. This year they get the first race of the day on Saturday. Sure, it's be early and cold, but at Carrollton that means things often go a little more according to plan. The problem is that there is no "plan" for 6A this year. There are a number of teams and individuals who are capable of winning each race. I don't think anybody who wins will be considered an upset and I don't see a clear cut favorite going into the race. Of all of the team rankings, this is the one where there has been the most movement this year.

Boys Individual

Nathan Solomon looking for the win. Photo by Alex Burst.

Bryson Gates could come away victorious as well. Photo by Marc Logan.

Let's start with the race that could set the tone for the entire day as we have two definite studs squaring off. Nathan Solomon of Shiloh and Bryson Gates of Creekview are 1-1 against each other so far this year and both have run fast times. This one will be for all of the marbles though and both of them are racing for their first ever state title. Pick with your gut on this one as both runners are capable of not only winning but putting up the fastest time of the day. Coming up with a favorite for third is kind of difficult as some kids had massive PR's at region. I will put the threats in order of time, but I highly doubt this is the order they finish.

Corn at Starrs Mill. Photo by Marc Logan

Eli Corn (East Paulding) threw down his first sub 16 winning his region meet in 15:44. Kaden Harris (Alexander) was next up behind him in that meet, but he has been up near this level all season long with his signature race coming in a win at the Douglas County Championships.

McKee at Pickens Preview. Photo by Marc Logan

Ryan McKee (Kennesaw Mountain) also won his region and has several wins on the year with his only finish outside of the top 2 coming at his debut in the Pickens Preview where he still finished a respectable 8th in a strong field.

Kurilko at Ortho. Photo by Marc Logan

Ethan Kurilko (Lakeside Evans) could be overlooked with his PR coming early in the year but he did win a race at Carrollton already once this year showing that he knows how to run that course.

Spohn at Carrollton Ortho. Photo by Marc Logan

Carter Spohn (Pope) has been nice and consistent this year with his strongest race probably coming at the Cobb County Championships where he took a very strong 3rd place

Donovan at Atlanta Classic. Photo by Marc Logan.

Lyle Donovan (Cambridge) is definitely a little underrated right here by time. He has not had a bad race yet this year and while he's not a region champion, it's because he finished second to Gates. He also got a big win going 16:02 at the Atlanta Classic

Wright at Carrollton Ortho. Photo by Marc Logan

 Tucker Wright (Rome) is the last 6A boy who has been under 16:00 this year and is used to being at the front of the field too. Other runners who will be eyeing to either take the final podium spot or will be looking to knock guys off of this list include Memphis Rich (Richmond Hill), Tyler Phillips (South Effingham), Nasrudin Mohamed (Grovetown), Adam Grisch (Lakeside), Hagan Russell (Carrollton), Cailan Howard (South Effingham), Noah Sybert (Richmond Hill), and Tyler Goode (Alexander).

Girls Individual

This thing is WIDE open and anybody could come away with the win. There are eight girls who have gone sub 19:00 and I'll go through why each of them could win or could fall short.

Townsend at Coach Wood. Photo by Alex Burst.

Catherine Townsend (North Atlanta) - Pro: she has the fastest PR with her 8th place finish against a loaded field at Coach Wood. Con: She lost her region meet to her two teammates so she might not even be the biggest threat on her own team.

Hoppenfeld at Warpath. Photo by Marc Logan.

Alexa Hoppenfeld (Riverwood) - Pro: She is experienced as the junior triathlete knows how to compete. Con: She's been beaten by multiple 6A girls at some big meets this year.

Simone Rojas duking it out with Clara Heppner at Coach Wood. Photo by Alex Burst.

Simone Rojas (Evans) - Pro: She's the top returner from last year. Con: She was only 13th at Coach Wood and 17th at Carrollton Ortho.

Clara Heppner (North Atlanta) - Pro: She won her region championship. Con: She too has two teammates who might be better than on any given day (which is good for their team chances, see below)

Adair at Wingfoot. Photo by Marc Logan

Addison Adair (Pope) - Pro: She's a freshman who just knows how to run and give her best effort rather than get caught up in the mental battle since this is her first season. Con: Nothing Major sticks out as she's been very consistent, but she too has two teammates capable of beating her.

Golden at Coach Wood. Photo by Alex Burst.

Lorel Golden (Pope) - Pro: She ran a great state meet last year and has been consistent so far this year. Con: She also lost to her teammates this year meaning she can again.

Dunn at Coach Wood. Photo by Alex Burst. 

Charlotte Dunn (Pope) - Pro: She killed it at the Carrollton Ortho and Cobb County meets. Con: She finished 3rd to her two teammates at the region meet (seeing a theme?)

Heppner at Coach Wood. Photo by Alex Burst

Heidi Heppner (North Atlanta) - Pro: She seems to be getting better each week and gaining steam. Con: She has the slowest PR on this list and also, see the other 5 ladies on this list who have lost to a teammate this year.

I should mention that team strategy can also help girls so if the North Atlanta or Pope trio are able to execute a good team race, either could finish 1-2-3.

After those 8 we have a good group of girls who could spoil the party. Knowing Carrollton and how it traditionally runs, history suggests at least 1-2 of these girls will get caught by somebody who is having a great day. Waiting in the wings and vying for one of those all important top 10 podium spots should be Brooklyn Crabtree (Alexander), Anna Filipek (Cambridge), Cayden Crismon (River Ridge), Lucia Loarca (Rome), Audrey Hotard (Habersham), Nina Ouellette (Riverwood), and Jillian Strickland (Centennial)

Boys Team 

This one is also hard to predict. Richmond Hill has been the favorite for much of the year and backed that up with a win at their region meet and a win over other competitors at Wingfoot and Asics. But their race at Carrollton Ortho left a little something to be desired out of them. Rich and Sybert look to score low points up front, and they don't really have any weak spots in their lineup. Alexander boys shot up the rankings thanks to their win at region. They've had a little bit of an up and down season but they competed very well at the Asics Invitational which bodes well for them in a field like this. Kaden Harris leads a strong lineup that has a nice 2-3 punch with Tyler Goode and Leon Waine. North Atlanta has also been an up and down team this year. They won their region meet handily and also performed very well at Wingfoot. But their performance wasn't quite as strong at Coach Wood or Asics. They are led by Sumner Kirsch who is a strong 1, but they do appear to have a relative weakness in the 5th man spot compared to others on this list. Carrollton kind of came out of nowhere here, but anybody who has been following Coach Sorrells knows to never be surprised with how his team finishes. They were a strong 2nd place to Alexander by only a point at their region meet. They are led by Hagan Russell and only have a 26 second 1-5 gap. They might not put anybody in the top 10, but they could put everybody in the top 25 which is how this race was won last year. Don't write them off just yet. Sequoyah is a team I've personally been a little surprised by this year but they clearly have it and might be the more consistent of the teams on this list. They are led by Josh Helms and Aiden Ingram. The knock against them could come at the 3-4 positions, but if their 3-5 run as a unit they can certainly move up and pick people off the second half. And last, but certainly not least, is Pope. The Greyhounds are led by one of the best in the business with Coach Monk and she can get them ready. Her boys won two years ago and her girls won last year. She knows how to get a team to the top of the podium and this team is certainly capable of making a run after a solid season with big performances at Wingfoot and their region meet. They are led by Spohn who could contend for a very high position. And while their pack doesn't appear to be quite as fast as others, they haven't run on courses that are quite as fast as what others have run this year. Keep an eye on them the second half if they are moving. Also in the mix for a trophy are Chattahoochee, Creekview, South Effingham, and Lakeside, Evans.

Girls Team

Cambridge Girls will look to pull of the upset. Photo by Marc Logan

North Atlanta sure is a solid pick after they pulled off a podium finish taking 3rd at both Asics and Coach Wood. Their top 3 are very good, but they do have areas where they can be beat as evidenced by what happened at Wingfoot. Pope and Cambridge are lurking and ready to pounce if North Atlanta gives them any sort of an opening. Pope is a very similar team to North Atlanta. They basically match them with a 3-headed monster of their own, but their 4-5 don't appear to be quite as strong on paper. But that's why we run the race, anything can happen at state. Cambridge is kind of the opposite type of team to these two. They lack multiple front runners but make up for it by having a very solid pack (or Sleuth). They watched their boys win that way last year and I'm sure are hungry to copy that success. They are led by Anna Filipek who could break into the top 10 to give them at least one low stick on the day. I suspect those will be the top 3 teams and that we will have two more fighting it out for the final podium spot. Sequoyah is led by Ella Grace Cothren and is similar to Cambridge with a pack of four girls separated by just 18 seconds. If they can find a strong 5th on this day they'll walk away very happy. Lakeside, Dekalb is close behind them and another similar team. They are led by Ellie Skelton and could steal the show with a big day. Lurking behind these five are some solid programs who will look to spoil the party with Alexander, Allatoona, Carrollton, Riverwood, and Rome all giving it their best efforts on Saturday. Should be a good one!