Weekend Meet Previews Oct 7: Still Big Meets Over Fall Break

The girls race at the Atlanta Classic last year

Fall break is a relatively new concept. I think the first time I heard of it was less than 5 years ago. But once the big county schools in the metro area started doing it, it really took off. As a cross country coach, I have to admit that at first I hated it. I hated the idea of my kids being away from me for workouts or runs. And I still wish it was in September instead of October. But for some kids this rest period comes at the perfect time. They've been grinding for months now and have an opportunity to take a breath and relax before the championship push. Sometimes rest is exactly what you need to take that final step. So I've learned to embrace it, although my school only does a four day weekend whereas others go longer and some schools take an entire week off. I think that would be too stressful for me, but we all seem to survive spring break ok, so maybe fall break is fine too.

Anyway, while most of the metro area schools are off this weekend, there are still some that are racing. I know there are a few Georgia schools heading up to Cary for the Great American XC festival or up to Charlotte for Wendy's or over to Alabama for Jesse Owens. These are all fast courses with great competition that should produce some PR's and it will be exciting to see what those kids do, especially if they haven't run a blazing fast course yet like John Hunt. But there are also a few exciting races right here in Georgia this weekend, so here's what we've got coming up.

Atlanta Classic

The Atlanta Classic has been around for quite some time now and I think it's in it's 14th year or so. It is held at one of Georgia XC's oldest venues: Clinton Farms. This venue has had multiple layouts over the years and while the current layout is not the fastest ever for this venue, kids seem to really like racing on the course and it still produces some good times. It definitely has a real cross country feel to it, so that's fun.

The boys race has seven boys who have already broken 16:00 so this should be a pretty competitive race. The obvious favorite is Jacob Pullen who is fresh off his runner up finish at asics where he was the top Georgia boy in the race. He's had a really strong season with only one or two slightly off races and looks like he could be the favorite for the 5A crown this fall. But Ben Sydell is not just going to hand this race over to him. Sydell was only 10 seconds back, and when you put them back on a course that has hills, it's entirely possible that Sydell can handle them better than Pullen. So your guess is just as good as mine in terms of who wins this thing. Joseph Minecci could also factor in for the win in this race. He doesn't quite have the times that the other two have yet this year, but he's certainly a proven runner who could use his experience to pull off the win. Other athletes who look to factor into the top 5 race include Ethan Bridge, Finn Herlihy, Ben Winn, and William Herlihy.

In the team race Denmark is the favorite as they rank 5th in our overall team rankings and look like they're one of the teams who will come away with a trophy in 7A this year. They have a very strong top 2 runners who could both figure in the top 10 mix at state. They've also got the depth necessary to make a run in November. They're the team to beat. But South Forsyth is ranked 9th and will definitely try to push them in a race like this. They also have a strong top 2 so if they can get more out of their 3-4-5 then they could come away with the win here. Cambridge is the only other ranked team in this field, but there are a few others who are just on the outside looking in that could vault themselves into the rankings. Look for Walton, Maynard Jackson, and Chapel Hill to all put up a fight and try to come away with a trophy in this one.

On the girls side there are a few girls who could all be thinking they'll come away with the in in this one. I see this as a very tight and wide open three girl race and any of them could come away with the win. Morgan Grace Sheffield has the fastest time and is the only girl who has gone under 18, which she did for the first time last week at Asics. But Natalie Tully was very close behind her and that was just a big PR chase whereas this week they'll be racing for the win which definitely changes the race dynamic. And then there's Isabel Yonas who is the only girl of the three to get a win in a 5k this year. Yonas hasn't run quite as fast as the other two, but she also hasn't run the faster courses those girls have run. This thing is too close to call so we will just have to wait and see what happens when the dust settles in the end. There chase pack is very strong as well with several girls who have run around 19:00 so far this season and will be led by Grace Danser and Anna Blaich. But there are probably 5 or more other girls who could all place in the top 5 of this race.

In the team race Walton figures to be the top dog as they're led by Daniela Delgado who could come away with a top 5 individual finish in this one. They're ranked 6th overall in the state and are the top ranked team in this one. But Decatur will be looking to prove a point that they're underrated at 11th. They have run mostly smaller meets so they can definitely make a statement here by beating Walton. Cambridge is also ranked and should come away with the 3rd place finish in this one, but there are several schools who are just outside the top 25 and will be hungry to get into the rankings by beating one of these teams. Expect Maynard Jackson or South Forsyth to figure into the overall team battle.

Other Meets

Ben Davis and Jefferson will look to defend their home turf at the Jefferson Invitational today. Jefferson has been impressive so far this season and ranks 11th overall on the boys side. On the girls side this race is Audrey Hotard's race to lose while Chattahoochee will be aiming for their first team win of the season.

The Cherokee county Championships are tomorrow and could see Creekview sweep all four wins. Individually Malachi Burnett and Katelynn Dollar are the heavy favorites so we will see if they're running just for the win or if they will try to put up a fast time at Bowling Park. The creekview boys are big enough favorites in this one that I expect them to win, but the girls will have a battle on their hands as Etowah and Sequoyah are both right there positioned to knock them off. This should be an exciting race.

And finally Adam Lippe and Westminster Schools of Augusta will look to have a strong showing at the Braves Invite this weekend. Molly Bramhal is the favorite on the girls side but that team race should be much closer overall.