Dollar and Little were amazing in the girls 6A race
The 2023 GHSA State championships are unfortunately over. But since we just can't get enough of amazing XC races, let's take the week to recap what happened at the meet. Also, don't forget to check out the state meet hub for full coverage of the meet including results, photos, and videos. Or go back to the preview articles to see just how accurate (or inaccurate) the predictions were:
Nobody is surprised by the winning team in this race, but it ended up being closer than I think most people realized. Marist ended up getting the win thanks to their depth, but Blessed Trinity gave them a run for their money, that's for sure. BT had an off day from one of their top runners, but so did Marist. So through four runners it was a pretty close race. Fortunately for Marist that 4th runner was Jude Patin who ran his best race of his life in a herculean effort to finish in 20th place as their 4th runner. Without that amazing performance, BT would have been your state champions. These two teams went back and forth all season, and while Marist appeared to have it wrapped up at times, BT never went away and it wasn't over until it was over. Marist may have had the front runners, but the BT pack sure ran with heart and never quit on this one. In the end though, it's hard to top a team that puts two in the top 5 and all five runners in the top 23. Marist was one of the best teams in the state all year, and in the end they put it together when it mattered most. Back behind these two powerhouses was a wide open race for the final two podium spots. There was literally no telling what was going to happen here. And so it's kind of fitting that it came down to one point for 3rd and 4th place. In the end, Roswell was able to take 3rd place behind a strong showing of two runners in the top ten while St. Pius X was able to snag the final podium spot by having the strongest 4th and 5th runners of the rest of the group. Two different paths to the podium, but effective nonetheless.
Individually this thing went about as you'd expect it to go. Tommy Latham is your back to back individual champion which is exactly what everybody expected. But it is worth noting that this was a slight off race for Latham and because of it the race was in doubt for much longer than anybody expected. In the end the best runner ended up winning. We're all allowed to have off days from time to time and it in no way takes away from the talent of this once in a generation runner who will almost certainly represent Georgia on the national stage next month. The real battle was on for 2nd place and it was a thrilling back and forth affair that saw at least 4 different guys in 2nd place at one point or another throughout the race. There was no telling which was this was going to go, and even on the band field of the 2nd loop this thing was not settled. In the end it was Christian Jimenez who bounced back from a sub par season last year to have his best race when it mattered more to take 2nd place overall. Not far behind was super soph Malachi Burnett who ran up front the whole way and gave this group of older runners all they could handle. He took 3rd place just barely ahead of Teddy Meredith who has had an up and down season but put it all together on the right day. And rounding out the top 5 was Liam Hanemann who very easily could have been racing a little more cautiously to make sure he got the low stick points for his team instead of taking any big risks.
In the girls team race things also went more or less as expected with Marist winning, St. Pius X taking runner up, and Blessed Trinity taking 3rd. The 3 catholic schools again swept the top 3 spots in the girls team race, something they've done every time they've all been in the same classification in at least the last 6 years. Marist girls also got some help from an unlikely star. To go along with their top 3 girls who all finished in the top 6, Freshman Kate Owens was running her first ever varsity race and placed 5th for them, sealing the deal. Two freshman in the top 5 is always nice to have. That Marist factory keeps churning them out year after year, so I hope that middle school coach gets a good raise each time it happens! St. Pius X ran well for 2nd place, which was about on par with what they've done more of the season when healthy. And Blessed Trinity also ran around where they had been all season long, placing two girls in the top ten just like they were expected to. But the battle for the final podium spot was very much in doubt and there were probably 3-4 schools who came into the meet thinking they could go home with the final trophy. In the end it was the Pope girls who got the job done thanks in big part to having two girls in the top ten behind a monster race from Aislynn Dunn who outperformed most of her regular season on the day when it mattered most.
Individually this was a CLINIC. Katelynn Dollar and Ruby Little absolutely blitzed this course in the hottest conditions of the entire weekend. This was something truly special and probably the two best races of the entire season from any Georgia runner. Unfortunately for Little, who ran 18:08 for 2nd, she was competing against Dollar who was just on another level running 17:49. But both ladies turned in jaw dropping times and completely gapped the entire field very early. Dollar took it from the gun and Little held back and chased her down after the mile. They were together at the halfway and both girls were still going strong at the two mile, but Dollar was just a little bit better in what was a truly special performance for both ladies. There have only been 10 girls to EVER run sub 18:10 on this course and we just saw two of them do it in the same race. Dollar was only 4 seconds off the all time course record of 17:45 from Emily Borsare from all the way back in 2005 (it should be noted that from 2012-2022 the course was slower than it was from 2003-2011 and slower than it is now in 2023). But even when you account for this being a faster version of the course, this is easily one of the top 3 best performances ever on this course from Dollar. The fastest time on the "slow" version of this course was 18:17 from Serena Tripodi, which is still 28 seconds slower than what Dollar ran. This was one for the ages from Dollar, that's for sure. There was a race going on behind these two legends though and that could have gone to any runner as there was still a fairly large pack at the two mile and even with 400 to go there were still 6 or more girls within striking distance of 3rd place. In the end Josie Hutchinson was able to hold off Zoe Garcia on the kick down the hill. Hutchinson was with the chase pack the entire time while Garcia moved up after the mile. Finishing behind them was Stella Chambless from Marist who get her team some very important early low score points.