The 1A Division 2 Girls Race
Continuing on with 1A Division II's "unpredictability factor," we have to talk about the individual winner of the girls race. In her first two 5K races of the season, freshman Isidora Catron of Wilcox County, ran 26:32.20 and 35:19.18. She had never been the #1 runner on her team the entire season. At the state meet, she won her first individual cross country state championship in 23:04.03. Talk about peaking at the right time. Let's delve into how Catron won the race and Atlanta Classical Academy's big team win.
Sara Neil Kirkland of Atlanta Classical Academy took the early lead in the race going toward the one mile marker. Following her were some other individuals as well as "key players," Geisha Smith of Seminole County and Isidora Catron, hanging around 6th and 7th place. Going up "Separation Slope" the first time, Smith overtook the lead from Kirkland and created some separation (pun intended). Catron in her bright yellow singlet and bright pink tennis shoes (fashion statement) was biding her time and running a patient race. Going up "Separation Slope," she was in fourth place; however, shortly after that, she was in third place and was about five to ten seconds off of the leaders.
Geisha Smith maintained her lead going into the second lap and powered her way up the central hill. Catron was decently close. There were no guarantees that she was going to get this win and Smith still had about a seven second lead on her. Kirkland maintained her third place spot and was leading Atlanta Classical Academy's "Cavalier Charge." By this point of the race, it was clear that the Cavaliers had taken control of the team battle with all five of their scorers within the top twenty-five to thirty. Chattahoochee County and Wilcox County were making it a tough race though as they also had their scorers in the top fifty.
Eventually, Catron made the definitive move to overtake the lead from Smith. She had a strong finish and won in 23:04.02. Geisha Smith ran a great race earning runner-up honors. She gave her friends and teammates the peace sign as she made her way to the finish line with a time of 23:22.45. Sara Neil Kirkland held on to third place and finished the race in a time of 23:31.57. Kirkland and fellow Cavalier, Adeline Weinheimer who also earned a top ten finish, led their team to the state championship. Their five scorers ran very well and all earned top twenty finishes. This was an impressive showing by Atlanta Classical Academy. I believe this is the school's first ever state championship in any sport. Considering the school opened doors in 2014, it is a great accomplishment to win a state championship of any kind at such a "young" school. Coach Ham and Coach Vaupel deserve credit in being able to build a successful program in a short amount of time. The final podium teams were Chattahoochee County in second place, Wilcox County High School in third place, and Atkinson County High School in fourth place.
Congratulations to all teams and individuals on your all's great season and amazing state meet performances!