State Meet Recap- Walton's Girls Magical, Brookwood Boys Romp to Titles


Walton's Girls defended their AAAAA crown with an impressive pack putting 5 Lady Raiders in the top 17 slots including a valiant effort by Alexa Womack who was the overall runnerup in 19:04. There was never much doubt after the 1 mile mark as Walton singlets were in abundance thru a fast start and with 900 meters to go as a Harrison coach exulted his runners to pick it up as they were now running for 2nd place. Also making the difference for Walton with top 10 individual finishes were Kelsey Taylor for 7th place in 19:18 and Sarah Hardin in 10th place in 19:29. It was a huge win for Coach Gower as his harriers had a 1-5 split of just :49 and team average time was 19:27.47.

Kaylee Issacs of Harrison drafts a Lassiter runner at the 2 Mile mark with Alexa Womack of Walton in contact...

Harrison fought it with Brookwood and Milton coming out with a second place place team finish led by the Overall Individual Champion Kaylee Issacs who raced to a 19:01 providing an early cushion for the Lady Hoyas. It was a tougher day for her teamates but they rose up and ran well enough scoring 132 points to best Brookwood's 143. Maria Boff was the 2nd Harrison runner to score with a 19th place finish in 19:56. Brookwood took the 3rd podium spot led by Caroline Kissell's 5th place overall in 19:16. Milton outdueled both Lassiter and Parkview to secure the last Podium spot scoring 153 points led by the 6th place finish of Anna Kelly in 19:17. Lassiter's duo of Marcie Merriman and Morgan Ainsley had a personal battle down the final hill with Merriman just nipping her with a 19:10.11 to Ainsley's 19:10.90.


Josh Brickell decides to push the pedal to the floor as Morgan Malanoski hangs tough with 900m left..... 

Brookwood's boys squad did not disapoint and in typical fashion their 2-5 runners worked their magic in miles 2 and 3 as the Bronco's blew away the field with 32 points and a 16:13 average. perhaps, more impressive was that they placed 4 runners in the top 9 overall Individual spots and had a 1-5 Split of just under :30....Morgan Malanoski was the top Bronco as he was engaged in a heated duel with Peachtree Ridge's Josh Brickell until they hit the 900 meters to go mark and Brickell put it in another gear and disapeared down the the steep little hill. Nonetheless, Malanoski motored on to a 15:59 for 2nd place overall. Gabe Gomez was locked in his own battle with Walton's Brian Sullivan but he must have shifted in overdrive also running under the trees next to the creek as he placed 3rd overall in 16:05. Sullivan hung tough for 4th overall in 16:12 as more Broncos began their last drives including Matthew McClintock who almost caught him in 16:13 and Matt Barudin sealed the win with a 10th place overall finish in 16:20.

Mill Creek won the team battle for the runnerup Podium spot scoring 142 points outdistancing a game and surprising Norcross squad with 151. Leading the efforts for the Hawks were the duo of Eric Westog and Mitch Flammang both who posted 10 overall finishes. Westog crossed the line in 8th place overall in 16:17 with Flammang just a little over :01 behind him in 16:18. Norcross was one of the surprise teams even after they came in a close 2nd in region 7 a week earlier as they seized the opportunity Saturday placing 3rd atop the Podium led by Arman Rehmann's 12th place finish in 16:24 and Nick Delguarcio's 16th place effort in 16:30. Walton's boys took home more hardware for the Raiders back to Cobb County as they ran well ascending the Podium for the final spot with 159 points led by Sullivan's 4th place effort.

Josh Brickell of Peachtree Ridge was in from the start gun as he led a huge pack to the 1st mile marker and with 1000 meters to go was locked in with Malanoski until he just took off passing the Split clock and motored in for the top performance of the day in 15:40.68. Rounding out the top 10 overall spots were Shiloh's Brian Kamau in 6th place with a 16:13 and Milton's Nathan Reich in 16:16. 




In the final races of the day the wind had died down a bit and it had warmed a bit to 62 degrees as I had been at the Mile mark all day operating a split clock. The biggest upset of the day was soon to come as everyone had wondered if Marist was again going to peak like crazy at State and win yet again or would season-long and ranked as high as 2nd All-Classes Lakeside-Evans would break the War Eagles mystic, BUT...the Falcons of Flowery Branch soared high during the race and when the race was done had achieved the first AAAA title under Coach Jimmy Sorrells tutelage. The Falcons did it with team running as they had 1-5 Split of just :24! Their average team time wasn't too shabby either at 16:53. Leading the flock was Drew Garland as he placed 8th overall in 16:37, followed by teamates Taylor Fiorello in 12th at 16:49, Luis Teran in 15th at 16:57 with Nicholas Ashmead and Austin Webber closing out the scoring in 17:00 and 17:01 respectively.

Brad Hort of McIntosh took the lead before the Mile mark and never looked back.....

Marist did have a titanic battle with Lakeside-Evans albeit for 2nd, and ran well enough  to barely take the runnerup spot on the Podium by a single point led by the 2nd place overall finish of Michael Thurston in 16:11 as he stalked winner Brad Hort of McIntosh. Marist's 2-5 runners did have a split of :17 which provided the strong showing led by Daniel Navarro's 16:59. Lakeside-Evans was led by a strong effort from Sid Vaughn as he hung tough for 4th overall with a time of 16:25 and teamate Chase Fowers placing 20th in 17:02 helped the Panthers efforts. The battle for the last Podium spot was also razor close coming down to a 6th man tiebreaker between McIntosh and Chapel Hill. Brad Hort of McIntosh did his part by taking an early lead and maintaining it throughout winning the overall Individual title in 16:05 but the final difference was 6th man Ian Murphy's 74th place finish in 17:55 besting Chapel Hill's 6th finisher by a considerable margin.

Rounding out the top 10 (All-State 4A Individuals) were Greenbrier's Chris Wilder as he pladed 3rd in 16:16, from Wayne County was Daniel Broadhead placing 5th in 16:33, Kell's Chris Summey was 6th in 16:35, Chance Eldredge was 7th overall for Chapel Hill in 16:35, Dacosta Smith of Union Grove placed 9th in 16:38 and Loren Teachey of Creekview was 10th in 16:38.

Rounding out the top 10 overall Individuals were Luella's Paige Rankine placing 8th in 19:18 and Roswell's Peyton Thomas in 19:25.

Allie Buchalski of Johns Creek (in the garnet and gold 2588) had her eyes on early race leaders Molly Schenck (Pope) and Alex Cameron (Dunwoody)

If there was ever any doubt as to what squad owned this race it was quickly dispelled as Marist was far too strong and deep for their 4A competition winning with 75 points for an 87 point margin of victory. Morgan Ilse, a freshman who won the MS State title in 2010, had many fans wondering what her status would be as she had ran on the JV squad all season (though posting team best times) as she was involved in Club Soccer, but made her choice between the 2 sports (I'm guessing) and by regions was on the Varsity squad. Her 4th place effort propelled the Lady War Eagles to a 6th straight state title as she clocked a 19:09 for 4th overall. However the brunt of the damage came from the 2-3 runners who placed in the top 20 including Kate Northrop in 11th at 19:57, Myriam Shehata in 20th at 20:25. Also making a difference was Courtney Marburger in 20:27 and Catie Faust at 20:27. So, the 2-5 runners had an impressive Split of :40 which was just what the doctor (Heintze) ordered.

Once again, Flowery Branch made this a day they will all remember as the Lady Falcons after cheering their Boys to victory must have found some inspiration and without a single top 20 overall finisher placed 2nd with 162 besting a game Dunwoody squad by 6 points. Megan Kirk led the effort for The Branch placing 21st overall was Megan Kirk in 20:27, but again it was a total team effort making the difference (much like the Boys) as Brittany Wells 25th place finish (20:33), and Lauren Kirk's in 27th (20:37) were the catalysts for success. Dunwoody ran well enough for a 3rd place spot on the Podium led by sophomore Alex Cameron's 3rd place overall finish in 19:07. Lakeside-Evans again took more hardware back to the Augusta area placing 4th overall in the team standings led by Sarah Bowles in 5th place overall in 19:23.

Rounding out the top 10 (All-State Individual 4A) were of course first and foremost Allie Buchalski as she won her second Individual State title for John's Creek. Buchalski was not among the leaders at the mile mark but mad some great moves during the 2nd mile to have a nice lead at the 2 mile point and kept pushing to victory clocking a 18:44.02 (the 2nd best Girls time of the day). Molly Schenk of Pope (who led at the mile mark) stayed close throughout running very strong to place 2nd overall in a time of 18:56. the last 5 of the All-State squad were as follows: Nicole Smith of Creekview (19:24), Ashton Lord of Chapel Hill (19:43), Union Grove's Rayna Green (19:43), Amanda Cope of Winder-Barrow (19:46) and Southwest DeKalb's Greciana Cooper in 19:48. 



Bailey Roth of Eagle's Landing sucks it up with 900m to go enroute to his State title....

The Boys team title race lived up to all the pre-race hype..Would it be St.Pius that had ran on the faster tracks (perhaps) or would it be Hall County AAA powerhouse North Hall??  That would not be determined of course until each schools #5 had crossed the line and coaches frantically reviewed their finish places with the winner being by a measly 1 point margin...St. Pius as young Coach Ryan McClay had his 2nd consecutive Boys AAA title.But amongst this team battle may have emerged another star in Georgia XC....Bailey Roth of Eagles Landing absolutely just took off from the pack with nearly a 75-80 meter lead at the Mile mark having a split around 4:40ish. This strategy paid off as he led wire to wire abd was nver challenged clocking the 2nd fastest Boys time of the day in 15:54.13.

St. Pius frontrunners did not give much chase to Roth focusing on being up near the front throughout and it paid off as Austin Sprague's 3rd place effort in 16:05 and Calvin Tirrell's 7th place finish in 16:34 got the Lions in good position early. The NH Trojans were not without their stars making noise up front also led by Luis Gonzalez's 4th place overall in 16:11 along with teamate Brandon Lawson's 6th place effort at 16:27. North Hall's 3 and 4 runners beat St. Pius' by 9 points but Pius #5 runner made all that up and 1 point extra thanks to Chris Beach's 27th place overall in 17:33 for the margin of victory.

Riverwood peaked at the right time this season placing a strong third outracing 4th place Podium finsher Woodward Academy. Riverwood had 2 runners crack the top 10 overall spurring their efforts led by Robert McConnell's 8th place overall in 16:42 with runningmate Said Hernandez :01 behind him in 9th place overall. Woodward was led by the 11th place finish overall by Drew Sands in 16:55.

Rounding out the top 10 overall Individuals for All-State status was Roth's former teamate at Grady, Zane Coburn as he competed as an individual and had made up alot of ground on Roth the final 900 meters placing 2nd in 16:03. Columbus put 2 runners in top 10 including Adam Jones in 5th at 16:16 and Preston Jones (no relation) in 10th place at 16:48.


AAA Girls was wide open as many teams went into Saturday having excellent chances to grab the Gold as well as the Individual overall title. The story for this race has to go to the Heritage-Catoosa girls who often do not compete against the more metro area schools being as they are nested in the NW corner of Georgia and actually are a part of the Chattanooga area XC Leauge (hope that's correct!) But Heritage had been ranked atop AAA a week or two which meant one ranker had a good idea of what they were capable of which they proved on the course Saturday winning the team title with 101 points. Natalie Espinoza led the way with her 9th place overall effort in 20:14. The difference maker were their 2-4 runners including Mallory Edwards (20:37), Caitlin Craft (20;43), and Brandi Thompson (20:49).

Kristina Delpesche of Columbus powers her way to the AAA State title...

St. Pius gave their all to defend their 2010 title but ran strong enough to emerge 2nd on the Podium with 128 points led by Devon Dabney's 11th place overall in 20:20 and Emily Thurston's 20:53 (21st). Allatoona, had been ranked atop AAA a few times and were just 3 points behing St. Pius in a tight race and were stoked by Emily Dunn's 10th place effort in 20:14. Columbus always seems to run well at State and they placed 4th led by Kristina Delpesche as she absolutely dominated this race and was never seriously challenged after the 1.5 mile mark and then proceeded to lengthen her lead the remainder of the race as she clocked a 19:03.96.

Gabby Roth of Eagle's Landing (frosh, and Bailey's sister) turned it on the final 900 meters passing a very game Anna Leigh Nix of Veteran's HS who led nearly 1/2 the race. Roth nipped her at the finish line by just .43 of a second to take the runnerup overall Individual in 19:33.88. Nix, has to be commeded for having the courage to take the race out early and clocked a 19:34.31. Rounding out the top 10 were a host of NE and Central Georgia runners including Taylor Long of West Hall placing 4th in 19:50, Abby Booth of Perry HS in 20:20, Jessie Dotson of White County in 20:20.75, Allyssa Weaver of Pickens County in 20:12 and Victoria Rogers of North Hall in 20:13.



Grif Rutherford of Thomasville hones in on Westminster's Jake Candler at the 2m Mark.....

Can we just say Westminster repeats and their Boys get to twirl around on the Podium with their "Victory" sweat tops? Yep, and deservedly so. Westminster trains every XC season for 1 goal only....winning the State Championship. And though the Boys and Girls programs are not linked with each other, Westminster continues to achieve excellence in whatever class/region they dominate.

In the Boys race Jordan Flowers led the Cat Attack as he stalked  Chris Akins of Model. Big race experience was on Westminster's side as all the Cats made moves after the 1 mile mark. With 1K to go it was a battle for the final 3 Boys team podium spots. Jordan Flowers did pass Chris Akins in the final 1K adding another Individual state title to their resume and he  clocked a 16:32 enroute to his first Individual State title. Akins of Model hung tough though and seized the runnerup honors posting a sweet 16:40. Westminster placed 3 individuals in the top 10 including Jake Candler as he placed 3rd overall in 16:52 and Sean Smith who placed 7th overall in 17:06.

Lovett continued to be a force in AA with a strong 2nd place team effort scoring 78 points led by All State Individuals John Hale pacing 5th overall in 16:57 and Hugh Van Heeswijk placing 10th overall in 17:08. Blessed Trinity ascended the Podium in the 3rd place team position continuing to solidify the stranglehold 6-AA has on the top 3 team spots. the Titans were led by Matt Munn's 16th place overall finish in 17:33.  North Oconee once again grabbed the final Podium spot  led by the young legs of frosh Cole Thornton as finished in 9th place overall clocking a 17:10.

Making the Top 10 and All-State Individuals asides from the athletes mentioned above were: Grif Rutherford of Thomasville,as he placed 4th in 16:55. I believe if Rutherford had opportunity to compete against faster competition and trained on hillier trails he could be the man to beat in 2012... Also running well was GAC's Chris Woodard as he seized the 6th place spot at 17:04 and Joey Ronca of Decatur ran as an Individual placing 8th in 17:07 after being runnerup in the 6-AA meet.


Sahara Fletcher of Westminster continues to frustrate her peers as Bailey Willet and Madalyn Waters give chase....

Westminster's Girls pretty nuch repeated what their boys did, by winning the team title comfortably and by having the Individual title also wrapped up in a nice little package. The Lady Cats scored 35 points in displacing any challenge from Blessed Trinity thanks to Sahara Fletcher who took off early and never looked back in winning the Individual title in 19:08 followd by teamate Michelle Sullivan's runnerup performance in 19:33. Their 3- 5 was just too good with a Split of :40 which in AA is more than enough after your top 2 go 1,2.

Blessed Trinity was game up top though placing second thanks to Bailey Willet's 19:34 3rd place overall and Anna Gandolfo's 20:27 8th place finish. Lovett once again capped their season off with a 3rd place team position maintaining a 6-AA stronghold at the top. Making the All-State squad for the Lady Lions were Hailey Branch in 9th place overall in 20:08 and Emmala Moffet in 10th clocling a 20:15. North Oconee was bolstered by Olivia Pigg's 5th place overall finish in 19:48 and the timely return of Dorie Faber from injury all season who placed 18th in 20:50 to give the Lady Titans a Podium spot for the first time since 2008.

Earning All-State Individual status were also Madalyn Waters from Dawson County as she closed out her HS XC career by placing 4th overall in 19:42 and Greater Atlanta Christian's Kelsey Fervier ashe placed 7th in 20:05. Congrats also to Bleckley County for placing 7th overall in the team standings and Thomasville as they cracked the the top 10 maybe being the first 1-AA school in history to accomplish that feat.