Path To The Podium: North Hall Girls Take Runner Up In 4A

The 4A Girls Race saw the North Hall Girls take state runner up against some stiff competition

Path to the Podium: North Hall Girls

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 Sam Borg what it took for the North Hall girls to place 2nd in Class 4A.

XC 2021

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

· Any results that gave motivation (good or bad)

Our state meet experience in 2021 was a negative one and the pain of that day helped lay the groundwork for our 365 day hunt for redemption. We had one girl not finish and as a group, didn't run particularly well. Despite our 2 individual podium finishers, the team finished 5th in 3A and missed the podium by 1 point. The girls are very competitive and losing is the best fuel for growth to happen. We were not ready to race for a state title in 2021. We had some fear, some mental weaknesses, and maybe some selfishness or envy that kept us from having the chemistry that we really desired. We labeled our 2021 campaign with the hashtag of #TOGETHER and our 2022 campaign with the hashtag of #FINISH. We made #FINISH our emphasis at every finish line - in every workout, at every race, and into Carrollton in November. 


Winter 2021

· Anyone that stepped up their training with XC already in mind

· Mindset of the non-seniors 

· Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

That Monday, 2 days after the 2021 state meet, the girls met and ran together to try and process what happened at state and where they were as a team moving forward. I remember that run like it was yesterday, it wasn't fun and we knew that it would be 365 days before we could get back to Carrollton and do something about it. Different girls did run well at Meet of Champions and/or Charlotte (Footlocker/Eastbay/Champs) and those races moved straight into winter training for track. 


Track 2022

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

· Anyone that was already expected to contribute, but still had a good season

· Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

Track 2022 is where we got our confidence back. As a freshman, Clodagh O'Bryant broke North Hall school records in the 800, 1600, and 3200. Those records had been held here since 1995 set by Lynn Keeper. Abi Moore had a great track season 800/1600 and we got Jessie Dubnik back from injury to perform well for us in the 4X800 along with MaKayla Jones 1600/3200. Harleigh Smith has been our Ms. Consistent, always performs, and made the state 3200 podium. With those 5 girls making progress in track, we knew we had the pieces we needed for fall XC to be special. 


Summer 2022

· Any new additions that changed the outlook for XC

· Early goals for the season

· How the team handled summer training

· Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

Our team built strength throughout the summer. We added a new grass loop farm course to train on once a week and also added PT band work 3x a week to increase strength and take a few miles off of the pavement to hopefully lessen injuries. Hills are your friend in North Georgia, we sure did run a lot of those! We remained healthy all summer and were primed and ready for the season to begin. We run our programs (boys/girls) together as one family so we were also working on re-loading a boys team to try to win a Region championship and solidify our spot in Carrollton in a new 4A for us after reclassification. Part of our summer running program includes a late July summer running camp to Hilton Head Island, where we train together and enjoy team bonding before school and racing season starts back. Summer running ended with 'NHXC Spirit Week' at practice and our annual 2M Time Trial to celebrate a summer of hard work and find out who was going to make the Varsity squads. 


Season 2022

· Anyone that had a breakout season that changed the outlook

· How early results compared to any goals

· Any revisions of goals?

· Any setbacks/challenges that had to be overcome?

· In hindsight, key moments of the season that led to the State result

The girls were on fire in August and early September and even saw a top 5 All Class ranking. They won a trophy at every meet, won Hall County, and won Region 8AAAA. We had key injuries pop up in September for a couple of our girls so training became more differentiated, which was challenging for everyone. The girls, their families, and the coaching staff all feel the weight of those tough weeks with injuries when things don't go our way. Sometimes you have to lower your volume, miss a workout, or even miss a meet or two to try to 'get healthy' in time for the Championship season of late October and November. Nobody plans for that to happen, but it's part of our sport and how you deal with that adversity really shows what kind of character you have. We had girls like Emma Morrow, Ali Moore, Ella Edwards, and Lily Kate Morgan really step up to maintain team success throughout the middle of the season. Any time we had a girl miss a meet due to injury, there was a teammate there to pick us up and have her back to keep the trophy in our hands. The girls showed great resiliency and grit and they were great teammates to one another this year, supporting one another through good days and bad days. They really came together as a family this season and ran more for their TEAM than for themselves. 

Competitive maturity - This November, although we didn't win a state title, the girls ran a fantastic race at Carrollton when it mattered most. I saw a fire in their eyes that was outward fruit of the competitive maturity that had grown in them over the past 12 months. They raced with confidence and with a chip on their shoulder. They raced with a love for one another that allowed them to conquer race pain at a new level. We are so proud of how they represented their families, the NHXC program, and their school. Of course a high schooler is just disappointed that they finished 2nd in state, but as their coach, I have tried to let them know how well they ran. They were All Class #5 in results merge and really made a name for themselves with how well they raced that day. 

To be completely honest, I'm so thankful to the Lord for guiding our program. He is with our every step and cares about every worry that our girls have. We have lots to be thankful for and whether we finish first or last, we remain thankful and humble, remembering that He gets the glory in all things. There are more important things in this life and this world than running. 

Our Middle School teams both won state titles in Bleckley this year. We have great parents and families that support us and an experienced and passionate coaching staff with Art Dacosta and Jill Borg. We don't have any seniors in our Top 10 and we pick up great talent from our Middle School program so the future is bright. The elite competition of 4A isn't going anywhere so it's going to be a tough road to get there, but we aren't afraid of hard things. 

Respect to so many strong runners and programs in Georgia that are inspirational each year to keep pushing the standard. Enjoy your winter miles!

#RunHappy and Go Trojans!