Class A Preview
The 2010 Cross Country Class A state championship will be defined by the amount of depth. Both boys and girls races will have a number of teams competing for a top 4 trophy. Individually, there are a number of top notch runners looking to place in the top 10. With temperatures expected to be in the low 30’s, anything can happen. The most heavily contested races just might be the first two of the day in Class A!
Girls - Team
The easiest prediction of the day might be the individual and team champion of the girls race. Grace Tinkey has led First Presbyterian Day all year. The top runner in the state of Georgia, Tinkey has run 18:30 or better in every race including a 17:55 at Great American. She is easily the favorite to bring home the individual title. What make FPD the favorite for the team title is the depth they have. Their second runner, Victoria Coppage, has a great shot at finishing in the top 10 and their number 3, 4, and 5 runners could all break 22:00 at State. That would make them the favorite.
The challenge for FPD is that there are several schools nipping on their heels. Athens Christian, led by Destiny Jenkins, has a solid and deep team. Their number 2, 3, and 4 runners are freshmen who might find another gear in the excitement of the day. Darlington might have the tightest pack in Class A. At region, their top 5 runners finished within 1:08 of each other. With that kind of bunching at the state meet, they might sneak up on some teams and could earn a trophy. After Darlington, there is a log jam of teams who have been up and down this year. Providence Christian, with 5 freshmen, snuck up and won region 5. Might they be peaking at the right time? Wesleyan always seems to rise to the top at State. Pinecrest Academy ran great at the Last Chance Invitational and seem to love that course. Could they make a run? Landmark Christian would easily win the meet if we only scored 3, but can their 4 and 5 move up enough to earn a top 4 team finish? By 9:45 am, we will have the answer to these questions.
Girls – Individual
As mentioned in the team section, Grace Tinkey is the prohibitive favorite to turn in the fastest time of the day. In fact, she will likely have the fastest time all-class. It will be exciting to see whether she can go under 18:00 on a tough, cold day. Following Tinkey, there will be a number of runners competing for the top 10 podium. Lindy Long, the defending State Champ, ran the second fastest time of the day at the Last Chance Invitational (18:54). She seems to like that course and will be running with confidence. Anna Gabianelli of Galloway, Jessica Zalzman of Pinecrest Academy, Lana Hojeij of Landmark Christian, Victoria Coppage of FPD, Ashley McDurmon and Lindsey Evans of Darlington, Destiny Jenkins of ACS, Emily Blom of Mt. Paran, and Lindsey Sanborn of AIS should be some of the runners you will see in the front.
Boys – Team
The first race of the day, Class A boys will likely be the most unpredictable race of the day. There are as many as 6 teams who could bring home the state championship. With the forecast of 26 degrees, anything could happen. It will come down to which team can fight through the bitter cold and focus on racing. That might sound simple, but none of these runners have experienced this type of cold weather so it is difficult to predict how they will react.
Athens Christian heads into the State meet with the number one ranking. They have a strong top 3 who look to finish in the top 15. However, they need their 4 and 5 runners to have a good day to assure the top spot on the podium. Wesleyan is again poised to peak at the state meet and bring home the State Championship. They always seem to have a little more juice to pull out come race time. With six runners under 18:00, they should compete. Galloway, Darlington, Mt. Paran, and Pace Academy are also competing for one of the top 4 trophies and could possibly sneak into the #1 slot. Don’t be surprised if FPD or Whitfield surprise some teams and bring home some hardware. This is by far the deepest field in a while for Class A.
Boys – Individual
Unlike the girl’s race, the Class A boy’s race does not have a clear cut favorite. The individual race looks to be as competitive as the team race. With more than 15 runners who have the potential to break 17:00, it is almost impossible to predict what will happen. Given results of previous races, any one of these runners could rise to the top Saturday morning. Cameron Thornton of Whitfield, Darryn Hutchinson of Mr. Paran, and the Jenkins brothers of ACS seem to have the strongest resumes and would be considered the front runners. However, Gray Lindley of FPD, Jake Grant of Galloway, Bradley Gossett of Wesleyan, Ray Warner of Holy Innocents, Johnathan Brideer of OLM, and Sam Reilly of Mt. Pisgah have all run under 17:00 and have the potential to pull an upset. On top of these runners, there will likely be 10-15 more who have the potential to break 17:30. With such a competitive top 10, the outcome of these individual races will have a huge effect on the overall team placements.
Good luck to all on Saturday!