7A Girls Recap: McGarity & Marietta Dominant Performances

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7A Girls State Meet Recap

I have been a coach in Georgia for 13 years now and a 7A coach for 9, and when I tell you that this was the craziest, most 'victim of circumstance' State Meet I've ever experienced, I mean it.  It was just under 70 degrees at the start of the boys' race and over 70 by the time the girls' race went off.  The grass was soft, and you could just tell that times would be out the window on this day.  Then, we had the restart in the boys' race.  The leaders must have been nearly 400m into the race before they knew for sure the race was recalled.  I saw multiple athletes racing with one shoe, one racing with no shoes (he was wearing orange, too...), multiple athletes hacking up a lung while they raced, multiple teams' coaches reporting illnesses ranging from COVID to the flu to a cold on steroids - one team with FIVE athletes missing large gaps of school in the week leading to the race.  "Carnage" is one word to describe this meet.

And that's where, despite all the noise and all the pressure and all the outside influencers that affect high schoolers on the daily, one team as of late always just seems to get it done.  Marietta.  Marietta comes in and steals a victory on the boys' side and establishes themselves as the alpha dog on not just the girls' side in 7A but in all of Georgia.  Should we be surprised?  I mean, seriously.  Are we surprised?  Did we really know that when Maximus Decimus Meridius screamed "Are you not entertained???" in Gladiator that he was actually referencing Marietta Cross Country and not himself?  Just an absolutely masterful performance on both sides.  Let's see how it all went down:

Girls pack early. All Photos by Alex Brust

As I said before, by the time this girls' race began, it was already north of 70 degrees with minimal cloud coverage and minimal wind yet a maximum of desire.  Over 200 of 7A's finest were about to embark on a journey through the heat and hills that even the most prepared kids probably still weren't 100% prepared for - unless you happen to attend Marietta High School.  Individually, early on, the race shaped out exactly as I predicted it would; it was a duel between Samantha McGarity of Harrison and Carmel Yonas of South Forsyth - both former Cross Country state champions and both trying to add another one to their resume. They were closely followed by a myriad of girls including sister Isabel Yonas, Bella Cammarota of Lambert, Marietta's entire top 4 of Maddie Jones, Mary Nesmith, Kristal McQueenNora Hart, and many others.

Marietta Girls looked dominant the whole way

It should be noted that Harrison's girls were doing all they could early on to hang on and there were many Hoya sightings up in the top 15 early, including Lidia Longo and Peyton Reeves.  Mad, mad respect for these ladies for trying to 'run with the devils', but it was just not to be on this day.  By the time the ladies hit separation slope for the first time, it was clearly already just all McGarity all the time.  Yonas wasn't able to withstand the early onslaught and appeared to be trying to hang on for 2nd.  Carmel Yonas was in 3rd with Maddie Jones and Mary Nesmith closely in tow.  Tori Meyer of North Gwinnett can be seen stretching out her arms, perhaps trying to work out a cramp?  Reports of her illness surfaced in the lead up, and it unfortunately just wasn't meant to be for one of the most improved 7A runners of the entire year.  Cammarota, Longo, and the Brookwood duo of Allie Wardle and Macy Felton were next to be seen with Kristal McQueen and Isabelle Gaharan of Lambert coming in next.  I just cannot stress this enough:  these girls already look over-heated at this point.  I would argue nobody truly looked relaxed.  We try to prevent our athletes from "pressing" early on at Carrollton, but I think it was impossible on this day.  These girls had to dig down and find something deep within themselves they may not have even known was there.  So much respect - and deservedly so. 

Samantha McGarity on the final hill

Maddie Jones at the finish

McGarity had a commanding lead on the field by the time they hit "the wall" after the 2 mile mark with Carmel Yonas trying to hang on for 2nd as Jones and Nesmith were quickly gaining on her step by step.  Cammarota, McQueen, and Meyer were trying to hang on with Farrah Frith of Milton leading a massive clump of Marietta-filled stripes.  Team-wise, it was already over at this point as Marietta was set to flirt with a sub-30 point performance.  The question actually started to become:  Can Harrison hang on for 2nd overall?  Down the final hill, it was a dominant win by Samantha McGarity.  18:34 in those conditions and was 1 of only 2 girls who broke 19:00 by the end of day 2.  Maddie Jones was able to break away from Carmel Yonas as these 2 went 2-3 respectively.  Bella Cammarota of Lambert was next and then it really began to be a Marietta party as Nesmith, McQueen, and Hart came in 5-6-7.  Farrah Frith (Milton), Allie Wardle (Brookwood), and Isabelle Gaharan (Lambert) rounded out the top 10.  Time wise, this year's 7A girls wasn't that off of last year's when looking at the top 15 which goes to show just how stud-heavy this years' 7A girls' race was and how tough these ladies were on a day where toughness was tested unlike any race prior during this season.  Phenomenal work, ladies.

Carmel Yonas

Bella Cammarota of Lambert

Thankful for our Cross Country family - both locally at my school and across the entire State.  I had some great conversations with a variety of coaches as the day progressed.  May your athletes get healthy, and may those who didn't have the days they wanted still be able to put it all in perspective.