State was a Crazy Affair with Many Upsets, Perhaps Spurred on by the Cold, Breezy Conditions...


    Whitefield's Cameron Thornton Glides downhill enroute to an Individual title

Class A


It began early on the frosted tundra at Carrollton. It was cold and the wind was not helping matters much even after the sun rose above the pines. The Boys started the festivities and Joshua Jenkins and Darryn Hutchinson led nearly the entire race dropping nearly everyone but Whitefield's Cameron Thornton. After crossing the street for the final time Thornton accelerated smoothly and glided by Jenkins with less than 400 meters till the finish. Thornton continued to gap Jenkins up the final hill establishing a near 30 meter lead at the top, which was too much distance to close on the fast downhill finish as Cameron Thornton won his first GHSA XC title in 16:02.83.  Joshua was not far behind as he blazed down the hill in 16:05.92. Hutchinson stayed solid placing 3rd overall in 16:14.54. FPD's Gray Lindley had a superb firts GHSA State meet placing 4th overall in 16:27 just holding off Josiah Jenkins of ACS at 16:29.  Also running sub 17: were Jonathan Bridier of OLM in 16:32.34, Jake Grant of Galloway in 16:32.62, last year's MS State Champ Warner Ray of Holy Innocents in 16:41, state team champion frontrunner Bradley Gossett of Wesleyan in 16:48 and Zack Lindsey of Pace Academy in 16:49.

Wesleyan proved once again that solid depth can defeat 3 top individuals from a team by besting a game ACS squad that ran much better as a team than in 09'. Bradley Gossett led the way in Wesleyan's lone top 10 individual position placing 9th but soon after a slew of Wolves (5 in the top 19 team scorers) kicked to the Finish Line amassing a winning score of 71. Drew Sutton was 13th overall in 17:13 and Doug Mohme was 17th in 17:36. Athens Christian ran better than 09' but it was not enough to capture their first GHSA title instead having to settle for runnerups with 88 points. Joshua Jenkins was 2nd overall having led nearly the entire race in 16:05.92, brother Josiah Jenkins was 5th in 16:29 and Will Hayes was 11th in 16:59. Mount Paran fought hard enough to place 3rd with 110 points led by Darryn Hutchinson's 3rd place effort of 16:14.54 and Jeff Pearson's 15th place effort of 17:21 while Taylor Hall turned in a 17:30. Galloway took the last Podium spot just outlasting Pace with 121 points. Jake Grant had a top 10 performance grabbing 7th in 16:32.52.

         Ansley McDurmon leads Darlington to the A Girls Team Title


First Presbyterian Day's Grace Tinkey owned the course Saturday as she clocked an All-Time best Class A time in 18:04.74. Tinkey took the lead before the mile mark and never looked back as she pulled away in mile 3. Lindy Long of Landmark hung tough enough to turn in a great 18:39.13 placing a strong 2nd. Victoria Coppage of FPD ran well placing 3rd overall boosting the Lady Vikings efforts towards a possible team title in 19:36.13. Another newcomer to GHSA competition was Pinecrest and Jessica Zalzman enjoyed her first State meet placing 4th in 19:52.88. Destiny Jenkins of ACS placed 5th in 19:58.50 holding off Landmark's Lana Hojeij who clocked a 20:01.75. Rounding out the top 10 individuals were Lindsay Sanborn of Atlanta International (20:13.88), Janey Fugate of Whitefield Academy (20:15.89), Taylor Noggle of ACS (20:17.90) and Anna Gabianelli ofGalloway (20:20.78) But, the team Champion began its work in the next 15 positions...

Darlington's girls exemplified what a real team sport Cross Country is by winning  a Team title and not placing a single runner in the top 10 and scoring 88 points to overcome pre-race favorite First Presbyterian Day by 16 points. Ansley McDurmon led the way placing 12th overall in 20:36.95 followed by Lindsay Evans in 16th at 20:51. The victory however was sealed by the trio of Bethany Cagle, Joy Diaz and Anna Shea who ran together in a pack consuming the 21,22,23 team postions providing the margin of victory needed. FPD had a leg up on everyone early after Tinkey and Coppage combined for 4 points, but did not have the depth on this day having to settle for runnerups in their 1st GHSA State competition. Athens Christian ran much better than in 09' (where they placed 9th) placing 3rd led by Jenkins and Noggle's top 10 efforts. Wesleyan took home the 4th place cup (another squad without a top 10 finisher) led by Erika Ramsey's 20:41.


  Josh Brickell has his sights set on the leaders before the end of the 1st loop.



This was the race everyone had anticipated after Parkview knocked off Brookwood at the Region 7-AAAAA meet. Brookwood had completely re-loaded their top 5 after the 2009 team left behind a legacy of being arguably the "best ever" Boys squad in the history of Georgia HS Cross Country. All the talk at the beginning of this Fall was about Parkview as they were returning some top guys including Alec Klassen and Steven Spevacek. Peachtree Ridge had gathered steam near season's end with an impressive region win. But, when it all came down the Broncs of Brookwood packed it in scoring just 49 points led by 3 runners in the top 10 including Morgan Malanoski in 4th at 16:15.72, Michael Guiliano in 5th at 16:17.60 and Jackson Wearn in 7th at 16:20.30. Parkview was game placing 2nd overall with 76 points as Alec Klassen led much of the race finishing 2nd overall in 16:01.37 followed by fine races by Spevacek in 6th at 16:17.87 and Joseph Weiler in 11th with a 16:25.19. Peachtree Ridge started off with a bang led by Individual Champ Josh Brickell as he turned in a 15:43.90 and Matt Weickert slipped in for 8th overall in 16:22.64 helping the Lions to a 3rd place team effort with 124 points. Collins Hill just edged out Walton by 2 points to grab the final Podium spot led by Andy Gonzalez's 16:37 effort.


The big 3 of Brookwood, Parkview and Peachtree Ridge ate up 8 of the top 11 spots individually as evidenced by their points. The remaining All-Staters were Mill Creek's Austin Boetje who ran a great race placing 3rd in 16:08.61, Tift County's Hunter Honeycutt who actually led the race early before the 1 mile mark placing 9th in 16:23.12 and Woodstock's Jared Richmond at 16:24.88.

             Walton Wins the AAAAA Girls Title with a 1-5 Split of  1:05



Alot of folks had written this race off as a big Gwinnett cross region showdown involving North Gwinnett, Brookwood and a resurgent Collins Hill squad. North had been ranked in The Harrier top 25 during the season and many had projected a full strength Brookwood squad with the potential to beat them and you can never count out Andrew Hudson's Lady Eagles in a state meet. But, Walton brought it on Saturdayand left it all out on the course in bringing the Girls AAAAA title back to Cobb County. The Lady Raiders accomplished this with their top runner performing well as Mara Canning placed 9th overall in 19:22.02 and then Kelsey Taylor and Emily Bridges ran in tandem seizing the 22nd and 23rd team spots each within .37 at 20:01.41 and 20:01.78. Lia Sewell wasn't far behind in 20:16 and sealing the title was Alexa Womack in 20:27 for a total of 128 points. Amazingly.....only 8 points separated  the 2nd thru 5th team positions with Brookwood stealing the runnerup cup by 1 point over North Gwinnett (150-151) Caroline Kissell led the way placing 15th in 19:32 followed by Anakaren Lopez in  20th at 19:45. North Gwinnett was paced by an All-State performance by Jordan Humphrey placing 5th in 19:15.55 and Rose Howell's 16th overall 19:35. Collins Hill ran tough up front led by Chloe Whitworth as she brought home an Individual State title racing to a 18:57.66 along with Sydney Williams' All-State performance in 8th clocking a 19:21.43. Harrison was left just on the outside in 5th 2 points behind Collins Hill led by Kaylee Issacs 17th overall finish in 19:37.84


Individually, it was a great battle near the front as Whitworth came out on top followed by runnerup Brooke Koblitz of Centennial in 19:03.48. Lassiter's Marcie Merriman placed 3rd overall in 19:13.74 followed by Peachtree Ridge's Lauren Kelly in 19:14.24. Rounding out the All-State squad not mentioned above were Dylan Hassett of Alpharetta in 6th at 19:16, Katherine Yost of Norcross in 19:16.63 and Woodstock's Morgan O'Toole in 19:22.41.



 What a Show (l-r) Simms, Vassey, Barger and Hoban put on in AAA. Cody Barger looks to be taking a stroll...

AAA Boys


This race featured many of the top Individuals in the State and it did not disapoint. The big 4 of Cody Barger, Brendan Hoban, Zach Simms and Nathan Vassey ran together nearly the entire race. Simms took the lead early and held it for much of the race before Barger and Hoban gapped both him and Vassey the final mile. North Hall's Barger looked like he was on cruise control the final 400 meters opening up his lead a bit and flew down the finish hill in recording the top Boys Individual time of the day in 15:35.91. Hoban went on to lead St.Pius X to the team title turning in a 2nd place effort of 15:48.34. Simms held off Vassey from Woodward Academy the final 100 meters for 3rd place in 15:56.88 as Vassy claimed 4th in 15:58.44. Adam Jones of Columbus held on to 5th place throughout the race recording a 16:21. Rashuan Tanner had a great race for surprising Washington County as he outlasted both Jacob Mobbs of Carrollton and Zane Coburn of Grady (all within :01 of each other taking 6th in 16:30.17. Filling out the All-State squad were Austin Sprague of St.Pius X in 16:39.34 and Preston Jones of Columbus in 16:41.


St. Pius X was the favorite going in and even though they were without Colin O'Leary (appendectomy on Monday) it didn't slow the Golden Lions down much as they outran a tenacious North Hall squad winning the team title by 23 points. Also roaring in the effort was Calvin Tirrell placing 12th overall in 16:49. Barger of course sparked the Trojans efforts as well as Luis Gonzalez in 16:56 and both Brandon Lawson (17:11), Reese Walker (17:12). Woodward was 3rd on the Podium led by Vassey and Lukas Rees in 17:14. Coach Borg had to happy with West Hall's capturing 4th place as they edged out Riverwood by 5 points. Josh Pedley (16:49) and Jimmy Gault (17:03) sparked the Spartans team effort. Connor McDaniel led Riverwood with an 11th place finish clocking a 16:48. On a side note, props must go out to rural Washington County as they charged to 6th only 19 points out of a Podium spot and everyone of their guys passed several people down the finish.



     Kristina Delpesche and Ericka Taylor go full bore towards the Finish line

AAA Girls


Going into this race, the focus was on the Team races for a title....The sun had been out all day, but temps may have risen only about 10 degrees and the winds had began to pick up a bit. We don't hear alot about Columbus, unless, you look at all the MCSD races in the Results menu and Carrollton. And the Lady Blue Devils have had a penchant for running well at Last Chance and State. I have to kind of root for them since my older brother has dated their principal for years and I ran a pizza joint back in the early 90's where several of my waitresses were also national caliber fast-pitch softball players. Once again, Columbus put it all together winning their 2nd title in the past 3 years scoring just 65 points. Kristina Delpesche led the way in a classic duel for the Individual title placing 2nd overall in 19:26.22. Also earning All-State Honors was teamate Rio Watson placing 8th in 20:15.18 and Cynthia Walpole placed 14th aiding in the win. North Hall placed a strong 2nd with 96 ponts behind the running of All-Staters Victoria Rogers placing 5th in 19:51.82 and Ansley Lawson placing 10th in 20:17.96. St. Pius X's program continued to enjoy a great meet capturing 3rd in the team standings led by Erin Osment's 4th place overall in 19:47.03 along with teamate Devon Dabney's 11th place time of 20:19.  Once again there was joy in Oakwood as a vastly improved West Hall squad outran Heritage-Catoosa by a 12 point margin to bring home a second 4th place Cup minutes apart across the street. Providing the 1-2 punch for the Lady Spartans were Savannah Smith placing 12th in 20:20 and Ryan Sharry grabbing 16th in 20:22.


For the uninformed about Girls XC down in South Georgia, many in the crowd were doing double-takes trying to figure out who were these 2 girls leading the race. Ericka Taylor of Westover has been a relative unknown in the Metro area, but not after this race. Taylor and Delpesche of Columbus had a classic duel over the final mile often running within a stride of each other and they were hip to hip the final 400 meters until Ericka had just a bit more footspeed edging Kristina at the line by .29 of a second winning the AAA title in 19:25.93. South of the Border runners weren't finished yet as Anna Leigh Nix of 1st year school Veterans out of Warner Robins seized 3rd overall in 19:37.42. Rounding out the All-State squad not mentioned above were Jenna Wesley of Spalding placing 6th in 20:05, Elise Moffat of Allatoona placing 7th in 20:09.87 and Mallory Edwards of Heritage placing 9th in 20:15.92.


Austin Ulich kicks butt downhill in winning 4A Boys (photo by Pinion Photography)



This was another example of team depth making all the difference at State. Chapel Hill had been ranked #1 nearly all season and Marist had been quietly getting better every meet. Coach Eric Heintze has not held the reins but for a few years but he and the staff at Marist have one act down pat. Peaking the first Saturday of November....Chapel Hill put some low points down early but the War Eagles ate up 4 spots between 19-24 and this season in a much tougher AAAA class, it was more than enough to repeat as Champs. Matthew Weber started began the scoring placing 11th overall in 16:41.49, followed by a very tight pack (2-5 Split of---DRUMROLL PLEASE---3.67 seconds) Now how is that for packing it in? Big props to "the pack" including Scott Selvey (16:52.82), Ben Campbell (16:53.58), Porter Harrast (16:55.89 and Michael Thurston (16:56.49). The Panthers of Chapel Hill started off like gangbusters placing 3 in the top 10 including Chance Eldredge in 3rd (16:22.24), Wade Voyles (16:25.99) and Adonis Gaines in 7th (16:31.71), but could not overcome that pack of War Eagles finishing a strong 2nd with 107 (10 pts behind Marist) Flowery Branch was welcomed into AAAA competition this Fall and ran a strong 3rd scoring 120 points led by All-Stater Kenny Slavik as he placed 4th in 16:23.33 and Maurice Riden placed 14th in 16:46.85. McIntosh climbed the Podium for 4th overall holding off a game Lakeside-DeKalb squad by 7 points. Leading the way for them was another All-State performer in Brad Hort as he placed 6th clocking a 16:26.91.


Austin Ulich of Chattahoochee had some rough going earlier in the season as he recovered from a reported injury, but he must have had some kind of magic rehab and late season training regimen as he smoked the field in 16:01.22 winning the Individual title. Chasing Ulich was John Ewing of Lakeside-DeKalb as he had a great race in grabbing the runnerup honors in 16:21.13. Also making All-State Honors not mentioned above were Dacosta Smith of Union Grove in 8th place (16:32.69), Daniel Broadhead came across the state from way down in Wayne County placing 9th in 16:33.84 and rounding out the squad was Manuel Romero from Kell in 16:36.76.


Anna Bowles defends her 4A Title (photo by Pinion Photography)

AAAA Girls


Never count Marist out of any State meet, and I doubt anyone ever will again as they stepped onto the course and ran like a machine with 2 frontrunners including Sophie Harkins who placed 5th overall in 19:07.34 and Kate Northrop in 10th at 19:26.66. Marist had a tight little pack also with their 3-5 runners having a Split of 9.54 seconds which sealed the win with 88 points. Is Coach Heintze the next Roy Benson in the making? Time will only tell...Lakeside-DeKalb (6-AAAA also) ran very well upending race favorite Lakeside-Evans by 5 points to capture the runnerup team Cup and were led by the talents of veteran Meghan Wetterhall as she placed 7th in 19:17.34 and teamate Haley Keadey as she placed 14 with a nice race in 19:56.31. Lakeside-Evans' fleet trio went out and put the Lady Panthers in great shape early behind Individual champion Anna Bowles as she repeated clocking an 18:34.96, followed by teamates Kate Townsend placing 4th in 19:02.26 and Sarah Bowles in 6th at 19:12.70. McIntosh finished unchallenged for that final Podium spot with 150 points and were led by Melanie Hamilt as she was 12th in 19:34.37 followed by Rachel Tierney in 13th at 19:53.10


Although not in attendance for this race I heard Anna Bowles ran like perfectly tuned car in adding another State title to her resume. Allie Schaich moved up from AAA last season and once again had a great race placing 2nd overall for Lambert HS in 18:51.98. Alex Cameron of Dunwoody was very impressive finishing in 3rd place clocking a 18:55.53. Also rounding out the All-State team (not mentioned above) was Molly Schenck of Pope placing 8th in 19:22.72 and Amanda Cope of Winder-Barrow in 9th at 19:24.84. 


Leonel Ayala leads Cross Keys by defending his AA title (photo by Pinion Photography)

AA Boys


There was alot of pre-race banter on the Forum about this race weeks before Regions were even held! But was Leonel Ayala just sandbagging us all season or what. Ayala had definitely enjoyed success at the Carrollton course before as he would be defending his surprising victory from 09', but had not put up low numbers until the 6-AA meet 7 days ago as he led Cross Keys to a state berth. But on cue Ayala saved his best for State nearly besting his 09' performance (perhaps blew it away considering the wind) defending his title in 16:17.46 which should garner him quite a few offers this Winter. Tripp Hurt had his best race of the year also (considering course difficulty) and made North Oconee proud with his runnerup finish in 16:44.75 and keep an eye out for him Track season as he's the defending AA 1600 meter champ. Parker Whitlock led Lovett to a strong team runnerup finish placing 3rd in 17:04.75.


Westminster rolled over the competition yet again in fine fashion scoring just 44 points and had a few runners move up the rung at State as Tyler Cooke led the Coach Tribble's Cats on this day placing 4th in 17:13.93. He was joined on the All-State squad by teamates Jordan Flowers placing 8th in 17:20.09 and John Lambert placing 10th in 17:21.06. Westminster ate up the 11-13 spots also including Jake Candler, Sean Smith and Kyle Dhillion. Their team Split from 1-6 was a mere 14.89 seconds!! That's pretty unbelievable pack running that has been a staple for the Cats for decades now. As mentioned before, Lovett was a strong 2nd with 77 points led by Whitlock and Cross Keys was an amazing 3rd thanks to Ayala's win and fellow All-Stater Javier Garcia who placed 9th in 17:20.78. The battle for for the final Podium spot was titanic as Blessed Trinity had just enough depth to edge North Oconee by a single point.  Kyle Marchuk spurred the Titans' efforts with an 20th place finish of 17:37.75.


Rounding out the All-State squad were Ian Wraga of North Oconee placing 5th with his best outing in 2010 in 17:44.44 as he just nipped Pike County's Brett Edmondson (17:14.79) at the line. Another runner from way down South' whoI took some flak for mentioning at mid-season  was freshman Grif Rutherford (who hales from Oregon) of Thomasville as he placed 7th in 17:17.42. We should hear more about Grif if we can get some Track results from that area.


Sahara Fletcher leads Westminster to another State title (photo by Pinion Photography)

AA Girls


This was a fitting end to a great State meet full of Individual battles, frantic team competition and many upsets both mild and epic. Westminster begins each season as the "Tricksters", submits no results from their home meets and runs in only 5 meets that were considered very competitive. But, they improved marketably throughout winning Region and topping it off with a GREAT performance outlasting a very game Blessed Trinity squad by 11 points.Both teams were so superior that they consumed 8 of the top 10 places. Sahara Fletcher just ran away from everyone defending her 09' Individual title and posted the 2nd best Girls time of the day in 18:27.57, while teamates Parker Rhodes did her thing placing 3rd in 19:34.62, Catherine Smith ran to a 5th place effort in 19:41.06 and Lexy Rouse placed 10th in 20:12.10 giving the Lady Catz what would be an insurmountable task for BT. Blessed Trinity, make no mistake, had a great race and placed 4 ladies on the All-State squad including year long frontrunner Kate Beecham as she captured the runnerup individual spot in 19:25.85 along with her running mates who placed 7th thru 9th including Baley Willett (20:01.38), Anna Gandolfo (20:07.08) and Natalie Kile (20:08.09). Lovett's team depth propelled them to 3rd place overall led by freshman HaileyBranch in 20:35.67 and Emmala Moffett's 22nd place effort. Jackson County did 8-AA proud as the region champs battled hard for the final Podium spot paced by All-Stater Brittany Aikens 6th place finish in 19:52.38 and Rachel Pasco's 20:25.60.


Maya Dillard of Buford showed her XC potential after a great Track season in 09' by racing to a 4th place finish of 19:40.56 leading Buford to 5th place just out of the mix. Region 8-AA did well though placing all team qualifiers in the top 10 and watch out for North Oconee's Olivia Pigg this coming Track season.