Mill Creek Boys immediately after they found out they won the 7A State Title by 2 points.
Editor's Note - This is just a quick recap of the biggest highlights of the day. full recaps of all races will be posted next week.
This was an absolutely thrilling race individually and was also an excellent team race. Nathan Solomon of Shiloh and Bryson Gates of Creekview started out cool and composed with many other top athletes in tow. They basically ran stride for stride the entire way until the final hill where Solomon created just enough separation to open up a lead. Gates turned the corner and accelerated and pulled even with Solomon but Solomon had one final gear too to hold him off 15:55.97 to 15:56.24. Ryan McKee of Kennesaw Mountain held strong in 3rd with a 16:21 while Noah Sybert and Memphis Rich of Richmond Hill took 4-5 to lead their team to the win with 105 points. It was a giant cluster of teams (as predicted) after that with Alexander taking him 2nd with 168 points. North Atlanta and Sequoyah rounded out the podium with 208 and 216 points, just ahead of 5th place Creekview who scored 220.
The boys were followed up by another fantastic race. The 6A girls made it very interesting from the gun. Clara Heppner of North Atlanta and Simone Rojas of Evans very quickly got up front and started to duke it out with Catherine Townsend of North Atlanta in tow. The Pope trio of Lorel Golden, Addison Adair, and Charlotte Dunn were clearly sitting back early and working together, but still within striking distance. Heppner and Rojas just kept hammering the pace the whole race, trading punches until the final stretch in the woods. Rojas emerged onto the band field with the lead and ended up with the win in 18:55. But Heppner and Townsend held on for huge team points in 2nd and 3rd running 19:05 and 19:07. Golden, Adair, and Dunn came through in the next 3 positions running 19:24, 19:26, and 19:27 followed closely by Anna Filipek of Cambridge in 19:37 trying to help get as many girls as possible in pursuit of the team win. In the team battle, there were many teams with a shot, but it ultimately came down the front runners of North Atlanta versus the pack of Cambridge. It was obvious the entire race these were the top two teams and it was way too close to call for most of the race. In the end North Atlanta took the win with 70-72 over Cambridge. Pope was a strong 3rd in 117 while Lakeside, Dekalb was 4th with 199.
Next up we got to see if anybody could hang with the Decatur Boys. We didn't get the answer immediately, but ultimately Decatur was just too much for anybody else taking the win with 46 points. They threw down a 16:44 team average which is the 3rd fastest team average on the current course layout (behind 16:36 from 2017 Milton and 16:40 from 2013 Pius). And speaking of, St. Pius X put up a strong challenge and was almost even with Decatur through the halfway, but they just couldn't handle how strong the Bulldogs were and had to settle for 2nd with 77 points. Blessed Trinity also put up a fight but ultimately fell short too with 97 points in 3rd. Starrs Mill got the final podium spot with 139 points. Individually, the favorite Christian Gonzalez absolutely delivered. He bided his time the first half before blowing the field away on the 2nd loop to take the win in 15:56. The race behind him didn't have much drama as it strung out for much of the race with BT senior Benjamin Rothering securing 2nd place in 16:19. But behind him teammate Zack Burke was attempting to hold off William Carlton coming down the hill when Carlton dove at the line to take 3rd place and Burke got 4th, both in 16:25 separated by 0.03 seconds. Harris Co senior Kaleb Ellis took 3rd in 16:37.
This race had a big team battle on tap between two Catholic schools. Blessed Trinity got out to the early lead but the Pius girls were definitely lurking and made their move after the mile. Ultimately Pius pulled away putting four in the top 7 to secure the win with 36 points to BT's 81 points. The Pius girls ended up running the fastest team average of the meet this year with 19:39, the 5th fastest on this course layout (record is 2018 Marietta with 19:30). The battle for 3rd was thrilling as Midtown has been coming on strong late in the year and was able to catch Decatur girls in the end beating them 112 to 118. Individually this race had many moving parts to it. The top four seeds of Grace Von Biberstein of Pius, Katie Hamfeldt and Kelly Ann Sutterfield of BT, and Jamie Marlowe of Midtown, established themselves early on. Von Biberstein separated a little before the halfway and never looked back taking the win in 18:56. Hamfeldt held on strong for 2nd place with a 19:14. But the surprise came with 3rd place finisher Hannah Schemmel of Pius, who was making her season debut after an injury and ran a very strong 19:24 after starting slow and moving up the entire race. Marlowe was able to take 4th in 19:26 while Sutterfield held on for 5th in 19:34.
1A Private Boys
This one was closer than I personally thought it would be. Joe Sapone of Holy Innocents' led wire to wire, but credit to Peyton Golden of Whitefield Academy for pushing Sapone to the line. But ultimately Sapone took the win in 16:22 while Golden got runner up in 16:26. Evan Prince of Tallulah Falls was able to follow closely as well taking 3rd in a very strong 16:35. In the team race Whitefield took the lead early and controlled the whole race taking the win with 60 points, the first title for the boys program. Holy Innocents' had very good day in taking second with 105 points. Paideia was able to take 3rd with a good score of 127 points and Athens Academy got the final trophy with 163 points.
1A Private Girls
This one also went very close to what was expected. Ellie Brewer of Hebron Christian and Cara Joyce of Atlanta International got out front early and were trading punches all race. Finally as they were heading to the playground behind the school for the last time Joyce was able to deliver the winning move pulling away to win with a 19:18 as Brewer held on for a strong 2nd place in 19:30. Behind them we had a good back and forth battle for 3rd with Brooke Browning of Hebron and Shari Brown of Landmark Christian. Browning took 3rd in 19:59 to Brown's state debut in 20:17. In the team battle Wesleyan girls were able to pack it up with only a 46 second team split and not a single runner in the top 15. But they stayed close together the whole race to take the win with 96 points over a strong Landmark team with 122 points. Paideia took 3rd with 148 points and Holy Innocents took 4th with 154 points.
What a race! This thing had it all on the team side. All of the top five teams absolutely had a shot to win this thing. Early on it appeared that Denmark or Marietta may have been in the best position with the strongest top 3. But by the halfway it looked like Harrison or West Forsyth could have been in control with the best top 4. Harrison was in it the whole way and maybe appeared to have the the lead with about 1200m to go. But at the end of the day it's the 5th man who wins the race and this day belonged to Mill Creek as their 5th man (with only one shoe) came down the hill to pass 5+ runners and secure the win with 102 points. Marietta almost had it again today but came up just short with 104 points, a phenomenal race from a great team. Denmark was a very strong 3rd with 127 points while West Forsyth was able to take 4th with 137 points. Heartbreak for Harrison today who really left it all on the course but had to settle for 5th with 182 points. All five of these teams deserve a round of applause for the show they put on today. Individually this was incredibly interesting as Steven McCartney and Miles Ferguson of Archer blasted the first mile in 4:48 opening up a huge lead on the rest of the field. But the pack worked together and slowly moved up on them and passed them around the halfway point in the race. From there Ethan Ashley took control of the race and slowly pulled away from everybody to take the win in the fastest time of the meet - 15:45. James May followed Ashley the entire race but just couldn't keep it close enough to win and ended up having to hold off a late charge from Ethan Nordman on the final kick with May holding on to 2nd with 16:09 to Nordman's 16:11. Behind them was the surprise of the meet as Caden Hall, who apparently just loves this course, took 4th in 16:17, which is easily his best race of the year. Nate Verska ran strong the whole way taking 5th in 16:26 to Trent Bell's 16:29.
Much like the boys, I couldn't quite tell who won this thing right when it finished. I had to wait for results. Marietta and Harrison appeared to be going back and firth the entire race and it was hard to tell who was winning in the moment. But lurking close behind was Hillgrove who was hiding in their new uniforms, making it hard to spot them as a fan. In the end Marietta was able to hold on with 107 points over Harrison's 116 points. Hillgrove took a very strong 3rd in 128 points. The battle for the final trophy was crazy as the next 6 schools were only separated by 27 points. It could have been anybody's day on this one. But Milton was able to dip under 200 points with 197 and the last available trophy. Individually I have to say I was a little surprised by this one. Early on it was Emma Geaney of Parkview and Kyra Andrews of Norcorss leading. Defending champion Carmel Yonas was sitting back and appeared to be biding her time to copy last year's strategy. But coming onto the band field it was Samantha McGarity of Harrison who was leading and looked to be pulling away from everybody, which she did to take the top time of the meet in 18:39 while Yonas had to settle for 2nd in 19:20 and Geaney was a very strong 3rd in 19:23. Farrah Frith of Milton and Emily Guy of Mill creek got 4th and 5th in patient races running 19:40 and 19:43 respectively.
1A Public Boys
This race went almost exactly as expected as Trace Harris of Armuchee took the win with 17:47 to 18:07 from ACE Charter's Nathan Hallar. Armuchee got the team win with 37 points while ACE Charter was 2nd with 69 points. Barrow took 3rd in 105 and Commerce took 4th in 154.
1A Public Girls
Upset Alert! Shelby Green was the defending champion but teammate Marissa Kimple was going to be the victor on this day, flipping the order from last year. Kimple threw down a very respectable 20:03 to take the win to Green's 20:48. Fortunately for them this didn't change anything with the team score as Armuchee still got the win with 67 points. Barrow gave them a great race though putting up only 75 points for 2nd place. ACE Charter was 3rd in 105 points and Atlanta Classical Academy was able to hold on for 4th in 142 points.