4 Big Meets on Tap This Weekend Including The Berry Clara Bowl


       Great Weekend of Cross Country headlined by The Clara Bowl at Berry, Covered Bridge Run, Mountain Eagle Invite and1st Annual Panther XC Invite. Berry is a monster of a meet with over 80 schools and 2036 runners entered and provides a good checkmark for teams early in the season. After a light Labor Day weekend of racing almost all of the ranked programs in each class will be battling it out in these 4 meets. Weather for this Saturday currently is forecasted to be a bit cooler with highs in the Mid 80's, Lows around 60, 10mph SSW winds and a 50% chance of scattered T-Storms. Hopefully many of you can get some great photos to post on the site at each venue.

                                                          2012 Clara Bowl Invitational     by Bruce Taylor https://ga.milesplit.com

This season the Berry Invitational has been named officially The 2012 Clara Bowl Invitational (why it changes is beyond me because everyone knows about it and there always seems to be confusion on the Discussion Board on where to get registered and get Meet Info. In the 21st century this has been 'The Event' that nearly the entire state above I-16 and Columbus at least once has competed in and scores of programs attend every season.

What makes the 'Berry Experience' so appealing for everyone? It it be the festival like atmosphere, music blaring during races, the unique college campus setting, the Chip Timing, or just the fierce competition? If one is willing to move around a few times walking briskly, the races become very 'fan friendly'. There's no denying either that the start of the large school races literally shake the ground and remind one of a herd of buffalos out of 'Dances With Wolves' heading into that first narrow turn. One better get out fast at the Clara Bowl course or you may find yourself boxed in the first loop. And whatever became of the infamous "Ketchup and Mustard' runners...and I'll never forget a certain Pius coach taking a very early lead 'Back in the Day'

                Complete  Team Lineup  https://dop3o1hd82eb7.cloudfront.net/user_files/11171/55955/race box totals .docx

                                                                          Large School Races

    Many of the 5A-6A schools will be on tap...but, no Brookwood, Collins Hill traditionally doesn't compete at Berry, Norcross may need a weekend off and Milton is at the Covered Bridge Run. Walton, Parkview, Auburn (Al), Harrison, Marietta, McIntosh, Mill Creek, Lassiter, Woodstock and Dunwoody are a few of talented large schools. Brentwood (Tn) has their Girls squad entered. St. Pius X boys squad will be testing theirselves against the big boys...Lovett has also chosen to 'run up' in class. Girls Individual faves are Alex Cameron of Dunwoody (barring an appearance by Grace Tinkey) she has to be considered a pre-race favorite for the Individual Overall as well as Marcie Merriman and Morgan Ainslie of Lassiter, Melanie Hamilt of McIntosh, and Rachel Thorne of Alpharetta, For the Boys the McIntosh duo of Brad Hort and Sydney Speir look to be strong favorites. It should prove interesting to watch Calvin Tirrell and Austin Sprague of St.Pius X challenge...

                                                                      Small School Races

      I wasn't sure combining 4 Classes in a single race at Berry would work, but...it turns out to be equivalent in entries to the 5A-6A races so good call by the Meet Director Coach Paul Deaton. Looking at entries the racing should be every bit as exciting. On the boys side of things (and I admit little knowledge of schools out of state) so the focus will be on the Georgia schools. North Hall, Chapel Hill, Westminster, Wesleyan, Athens Academy, (Chiles from Tallahassee,Fl) Cartersville, Darlington and Galloway all figure to be in the mix up front and hopefully we'll get to see a couple of A Public schools compete. Individually the trio of NH Trojans led by Witt Nix, Tucker LoCicero and Bryce Schubert figure to take it out early...Reilly Friedman of Galloway could challenge as well as Jordan Flowers of Westminster.  IndividuallyThe Girls competition will feature top ranked 3A schools St.Pius X and North Hall duking it out for class supremacy along with Coach Borg's White County squad...Pickens County is the highest ranked 4A team on deck and many Private A schools will find out how they stackup early including Darlington, FPD and Athens Academy. Westminster (untested this deason) never runs at Berry leaving Wesleyan the top 2A school in the box.  Alyssa Weaver from Pickens County is the top runner by time coming in to Berry...Devon Dabney of St.Pius X, Victoria Rogers of North Hall, and Caroline Reed of Wesleyan could all be in the lead pack.

                                               2012 Covered Bridge Invitational Meet Preview     by Coach Andy Carr

         Coach Evans and the Roswell Hornets have gathered a very talented and deep field of teams to compete this weekend on the fairly new Garrard Landing Park course.  This will only be the 5th meet held on this very fast and tight course but it is sure to be one of the best ever contested at this new venue.

                                                                               Varsity Boys

      Two of the top All-Class teams will face-off in an early test of AAAAAA supremacy. The Lions of Peachtree Ridge (6th All-Class and 3rd in AAAAAA), led by state champion Josh Brickell, will try and challenge newly top-ranked Milton (4th All-Class and the top-ranked AAAAAA team) on a course that the Eagles know well after being crowned region champions just a year ago at this venue. Nate Riech of Milton is the course record holder (16:22) and will vie for the top spot along with Pope’s Patrick Fleming who has run 16:28 on this venue’s course.  The host Hornets counter with Drew Kelley but word has it he is not running.  Other top ranked teams running include Lakeside-Evans (#2 in AAAAA), Pope (#4 in AAAAA) and Riverwood (#10 in AAAAA).  The Titans of Blessed Trinity (#5 in AAA) and Holy Innocents’ (#10 in A) should also score very well. The boy’s race is at 8:10am.

                                                                             Varsity Girls

      Garrard Landing will see a early region 5-AAAAAA (and top-4 state) battle with the host Hornets (#9 All-Class and #5 AAAAAA) being challenged by the Lady Eagles of Milton (#4 All-Class and #2 AAAAAA & the 2-time region champions at this course) and  Peachtree Ridge (#5 All-Class and #3 AAAAAA). The Lady Lions come over the Hooch after a strong run at UGA and are ready to show the other top AAAAAA schools that they are for real! Then throw in the Titans of Blessed Trinity (#8 All-Class and #1 in AAA) and this team race is going to be good!!  To add more fuel to the fire, Lakeside-Evans makes the trip to Roswell as the #1 ranked AAAAA team. The race for the top-spot could be a grand one if all the stars come out!  Marcie Merriman has run 18:43 at this venue but has yet to race this season. Annie Kelly leads the Eagles of Milton after her stunning 17:55 at Early Bird. When Kelly last ran at Garrard she was region champion in 19:19. Morgan Ainslie of Lassiter (who has run 19:26 here) and Peyton Thomas of Roswell (19:38 here) will challenge for the win along with Sarah Bowles of Lakeside-Evans, Allie Buchalski of Johns Creek, Leanne Zimmer of Lambert, Laurel Wilson of Peachtree Ridge and Savannah Carnahan of South Forsyth. The ladies lead-off the meet at 7:30am.

                                                      2nd Annual Mountain Eagle Invitational    by Bruce Taylor https://ga.milesplit.com

      This event was created by respected North Georgia Technical College Coach Bob Roller, who also coached HS many of his final seasons at East Jackson HS leading the 2009 XC Eagles to an impressive runnerup Podium finish behind AA State Champ Westminster. This event is fast becoming a favorite for area schools due to its natural beauty and moderately challenging layout. 21 schools and over 600 runners will be competing Saturday (a substantial increase over the Inaugural event) The race will be run through the lush, all natural terrain on the Northeast Georgia Tech college campus that has been a part of North Georgia' s culture for over 100 years. The course is fan friendly with a two loop circuit with some small hills and an open 800m finish.

                                                                                Varsity Boys

      This looks to be a tight race with #9 5A Winder-Barrow perhaps having a slight advantage with their depth. Hart County is a top 10 squad out of 3A, and ACS out of 1A Private is hungry to improve searching for that vital #5 runner...Lakeview Academy will look to challenge them as well. Mountain View has improved weekly and may provide a challenge for a team award. Stephens County comes in with a surprising #7 4A ranking and will have to run well to keep it.  Habersham has the depth to do well in the team race. Top Individuals to watch for are Ross Morris of Hart County, Morgan Bishoff of ACS, Dylan Forrester of Dawson County, John Gagnon of Habersham Central, Tristen Powell of Stephens County and William Wright of Winder-Barrow.

                                                                               Varsity Girls

      5 teams on the Girls side appear by data to have an advantage over the field and opportunity to bring home some hardware. Winder-Barrow is a top ranked 5A squad coming in at #5 in Class and any chances of defeating the Lady Dogs is small at best...ACS is young and will improve weekly and this week provides yet another opportunity for them to get better. Mountain View has a large program and based on their UGA race could crack the top 3. Jefferson is ranked #4 in 2A, and crosstown rival Jackson County is ranked 8th in 3A. Duluth is untested in a 5K having competed at the 2 Mile Stage Races. Individually Winder-Barrow has a foursome of runners led by Caitlin Connell, Whitley Kennedy, Anna Dean and Kiana Perez. Rebecca Winslow of Mountain View, Elizabeth Gunther of ACS, Sydney Baird of Jackson County and frosh Deanna Lewis of Stephens should be in the chase pack.



                                    Picturesque Peachtree Community Course Built Around Heritage Christian Church

                                                         1st Annual Panther XC Invitational   by Coach Don Livingston

      While many teams are headed to Berry College this week, 30 teams and 1100 runners head down to Starr’s Mill High School to run in the Panther XC Invitation. The course looks to be fast as well.The Peachtree City community just built a new Cross Country course around 77 acres at Heritage Christian church.The course is flat with rolling hills and encircles a lake. This spectator friendly course adds to the excitement.

      Both the men’s and women’s fields look fast: The Top boys teams look to be: Wheeler, Hillgrove, Union Grove, Starr’s Mill,  Alexander and Landmark Christian with Brandom Cromer, Adle Yoonis, Ryan Peck, Michael Scasny, and Josh Warren squaring off in the individual mens’ race

      The top girls teams:  Landmark Christian, Alexander, Allatoona, Hillgrove, Union Grove and SMHS with Kathryn Foreman, teammate Lindy Long, Brittany Truitt, Claire Warren, Courtney Manning and Hailey Gollnick battling for the top women’s spots The course looks to be fast as well.The Peachtree City community just built a new Cross Country course around 77 acres at Heritage Christian church.The course is flat with rolling hills and encircles a lake. This spectator friendly course adds to the excitement.