2022 GA HS Meet Of Champions Preview

The boys race from Meet of Champions last year was a really exciting one

2022 Meet of Champions Preview

As I mentioned in my State Meet recaps, this was probably the craziest and snake-bitten State Meet that I can remember in 13 years of coaching. Hopefully, all of the injuries and illnesses have been figured out, and the cream that maybe couldn't rise to the top last week can rise this Saturday as we embark on another edition of the Meet of Champions!  Let's get to it.


Nearly half of the 145 girls entered in the Girls Invite race have broken 20:00, so this will be a competitive meet (as it should be).  Individually at the top, we have our 2 Armuchee studs in Shelby Green and Marissa Kimple who famously went 1-2 at Coach Wood earlier this year and were 2nd and 3rd at State behind a surprising, yet not surprising, performance by Bleckley's Ella Gibbs (not entered in this race).  These 2 ladies have been at or near the top of GA competition all season, and they enter as 2 of the heavy favorites at the Meet of Champions.  My thinking is if they can do it at Coach Wood, they can do it again.  North Hall's Clodagh O'Bryant was 3rd at State 4A which propelled her squad to a runner up finish behind Pace Academy.  Speaking of Pace, Zahara Bernal of Pace broke 18:00 at her Region meet and then followed it up with a strong 4th place individual finish at State 4A.  State Champion of 4A, Palmer Walstad of Westminster, also features heavily here and has the 6th fastest career PR in the field.  She was 8th at both ASICS and Wingfoot and should be up near the front this weekend.  Claire Shelton of Dunwoody nearly won the 6A State meet, taking Hannah Schemmel to the wire.  Could she do similar on Saturday?  London Ray of Blessed Trinity was 5th at State in a super competitive 6A, just behind last year's Meet of Champions winner Katelynn Dollar (not entered this year).  Ray was also 5th at Coach Wood which is a nice resume builder.  Catherine Townsend of North Atlanta was 7th at 6A State and also should be seen pretty close to the front.   Other big name individuals include Clara Heppner (Johnson Ferry Christian Academy), Morgan Grace Sheffield (Denmark), Allie Wardle and Macy Felton (Brookwood), Lottie Chappell (North Springs), Kyra Andrews and Emily Rodriguez, (Norcross), Anna Filipek (Cambridge), Shari Brown (Landmark), and Haley Primm (Parkview).

Team-wise?  Your guess is as good as mine.  We will not see Marietta, Pace is not full strength, no Harrison, no Marist, no St. Pius X... but we do still have some big talent featured here.  I'll go off the results merge since it's recent (and admittedly, easy...).  Based off of that, North Hall enters as the 5th fastest team and the fastest full strength team in the field.  Decatur appears to be pretty loaded in this field, and they emerged 7th overall in the merge.  Blessed Trinity (8th), also appears to be running at least most of their top girls, so be sure to keep an eye on them.  Walton, Brookwood, and Richmond Hill could also be contending for top 3-5 spots.


30 entries have broken 16:00 before, so this should be another run race. GIAA State Champ Hayes Trapp of Augusta Prep enters with the fastest career PR of 15:04 which he did at ASICS and was also the top GA finisher in that field; it stands to reason that he should easily be considered among the favorites for the individual title.  Noah Martinson of Carrollton was right behind Trapp at ASICS and had himself a really strong season but fell back a little bit at State.  He will absolutely be looking for redemption this weekend, so I strongly suspect that he will be sticking himself up near the front early and will be trying to get himself back to where we all know he belongs.  6A State runner-up Dru Moore and 3rd place finisher and teammate Andrew Balogh (Etowah) were among the fastest times all-class at State, and they are a dynamic duo that will be up near the front of this competition.  7A State Champion Memphis Rich surprised many with his title win (except himself, I assume) and could be looking to double dip and win himself a Meet of Champions championship to add to his growing and impressive resume.  Diego Fernandes of West Forsyth is another strong name of ASICS fame with his 15:22 and also a top 10 finisher at State 7A.  Houston Hamby of East Coweta is a name we typically see near the top in big competitions; he likely wanted more out of his 7A State experience, so look for him to try and get up there.  Speaking of 7A, guys like Will Jennings of Carrollton, Ben Sydell of Denmark and Marc Petrucci of Collins Hill both had strong top 10 finishes and will look to be at the front.  And then there's North Atlanta.  The trio of Sumner Kirsch, Truman Thompson, and Teddy Meredith of North Atlanta led their team to prominence and will try to do the same individually as well on Saturday.  Rounding out top billing here is Luke Churchwell of Bleckley County who has won 7 of 9 races he's entered in this year and finished a strong 7th place at Wingfoot.  He doesn't get the attention he deserves due to being in a lower classification, but he could prove on Saturday that he's worthy of such attention.  Others that will be near the top and trying to go top 10 or so include Gabriel Best of Whitewater, Nathan Smith of Athens Christian, Tucker Wright of Rome, William Carlton of Decatur, Cole Schmoyer of West Forsyth, Sterling Sellier of Harrison, and Cooper Timberman of Oconee.

From a team perspective, we could see a showdown among host Starr's Mill, Carrollton and North Atlanta.  Starr's Mill was 2nd overall in the Results Merge only behind Westminster who is not competing.  Grant Dougher and Denver Oates will lead Starr's Mill after having strong State performances.  North Atlanta was 3rd in the Merge, and the aforementioned trio should give North Atlanta a huge 1-2-3 punch near the top.  Carrollton was 6th overall, and following what they may perceive as a disappointing finish at State (which, in my opinion that nobody asked for, is far less about Carrollton's day and far more about Marietta' day), they could be looking for redemption.  They seem to be full strength, and Jennings and Martinson will look to Joshua Sipes, Hagan Russell, and Daniel Neill will try to see that redemption realized.  West Forsyth, Harrison, Decatur, Richmond Hill, and Paideia could also find themselves in the top 5 or so with strong days.

Hopefully, the course doesn't get too saturated thanks to Hurricane Nicole.  I'll see everyone out there!