Path To The Podium: Roswell Boys Place 3rd in Class 6A

The 6A Boys race where Roswell placed 3rd as a team

Path to the Podium: Roswell Boys

By Andy Christie

Everyone sees the smiling faces when a team is up on the podium at State, but not everyone sees what it took to get there. In this article, we find out from Coach Whitney Sweet what it took for the Roswell Boys to place 3rd in Class 6A.

XC 2021

·       Any seniors that set a good example or laid the foundation?

o   Christian Cartier and Matthew Brunner were two seniors who set good examples for the team. Christian Cartier was a 4-time XC state meet participant. Throughout his high school career, he ran in 4 state XC meets, competed in 4 state wrestling tournaments, and ran 2 state track meets. Matthew Brunner was also a good leader and now runs at Trevecca University in Nashville, TN.

·       Any results that gave motivation (good or bad)

o   At Warpath in 2021, our JV boys went 1-7 with only 20 seconds in between. This was a big turning point for the team, as many of them realized they could compete.

o   Our state finish of 6th was disappointing to the boys. They felt like they underperformed and were capable of more.

Winter 2021

·        Mindset of non-seniors

o   Our underclassman were led by Christian Jimenez. From the start, CJ has always been an extremely hard worker and is smart in his training and racing. Several of our boys team members also wrestle. This helped us as far as toughness, but also delayed track training.   


Track 2022

·        Anyone that had a breakout season, or new additions, that changed the outlook of XC?

o   No one really had a true breakout season. CJ finished well, qualifying in the 3200. Thomas Rhodes joined us after finishing 5th at the state wrestling tournament. He, along with Chase Williams, were able to drop their 800 times under 2 minutes. Our 4x800 team did well early but underperformed at state.

·        Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

o   Ben Pope was hurt early in the season, and this impacted his overall performance. Up until his injury, he had shown that he would help us.


Summer 2022

·        Any new additions that changed the outlook for XC?

o   We added Ethan Jimenez (Christian's brother) this year. Ethan had surgery in May, so we brought him along very slowly.

·        Early goals for the season

o   Coming into the season, we had 10 seniors that had all run under 18 minutes. This group started as a bunch of average freshmen, and throughout competitiveness and comradery they pushed each other. At camp, they announced that the team goal was to win state. As coaches, we loved the ambition but knew it would be tough with the teams that were in our division.

·        How the team handled summer training

o   We had a good summer of training. Our seniors and juniors got to 50 miles per week, which is an improvement for our program. Most of the top boys were very consistent.

·        Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

o   Collin Ashmead, one of our top returners, got injured at the end of the summer. He had put in a lot of training, so this was a big disappointment.


Season 2022

·        Anyone who had a breakout season that changed the outlook?

o   Thomas Rhodes had a good season. We always knew he was a top runner, but he had to start believing. He was hurt after our second meet but did all the little things to recover and ended up having a great year.

o   CJ Jimenez also got injured around the same time. He was able to come back for Coach Wood. At Region (in just his second meet back) he held back until the last 800 meters. He went from 6th place to 2nd place, only losing by 3 seconds.

o   Chase Williams has been a leader for us all season. He became more consistent and had a great summer of training. He got sick mid-season but was able to come back to help us.

·        How early results compared to any goals

o   Our first two meets went well and then we got hit with injury. For a period, we lost CJ, Collin, and Thomas. We ran at the Southern Showcase mid-season and did poorly. As coaches, we were wondering if we needed to reassess our goals.

·        Any revision of goals?

o   After Southern Showcase we were struggling. We focused on our training and reminded them it is a long season and consistency is important.

·        Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

o   In addition to early season injuries, we also fought several illnesses. Not only were we hit with cases of Covid and Mono, but the flu also ran its course right before region. Harrison Burns (our number 5 all year) got the flu and told us to run someone else in Varsity. The person taking his place was our number 8, Ben Pope. Ben finished 5th for us that day.  

o   Two days before the state meet, our number 6 runner, Will Uhlmeyer, got the flu. In addition, Harrison (who we were planning to run) had a flu relapse and was unable to run. This opened spots for our 8 and 9 runners to replace them. These two runners were Sam Roby and Mikey Ehrhart. Sam has been our most improved runner. He ran 26 minutes in his first meet as a freshman. Mikey had not been in our top 7 all season but improved enough to be in our top 10 all year.

·        In hindsight, key moments of the season that lead to the state result

o   We tried to make sure the boys understood their competition and encouraged them to run within themselves. Thomas and CJ finished 10th. and 11th. Chase passed 10 people in the last 1K to finish 24th. Ethan held on, despite looking like he would collapse, for a respectable 42nd. Ben Pope passed two people at the line. Sam and Mikey beat Marist's number 5. Had each of the 7 boys not done what they needed to do, we would not have beaten Marist and probably not Etowah.

o   As coaches, we talk about how important every runner is and what their job is. Rarely does it come down to all 7 doing their part. Having two senior boys step up at the last minute and play such key roles- especially when they weren't originally scheduled to run, made it extra special.