28 teams will line it up Saturday morning at Clinton Nature Preserve for the 2012 Atlanta Classic. The mostly single-loop 5,000 meter course will feature 3 hay bale jumps and an exciting 300 meter spectator-friendly finish.
The girls’ field welcomes 3 of the 5 defending Georgia State Championship teams from last fall. Marist enters the meet as the clear favorite, currently holding the #2 All-Class ranking after a brief stint at #1. They’re fresh off a 19:41 team average performance at Great American, and have the potent combination of a very good front-runner and a solid supporting cast. They could be pushed by Class A #1 Landmark Christian who boasts one of the best 1-2 punches in the state with Kathryn Foreman and Lindy Long. Also making a rare trip down from northwest Georgia is 2011 AAA State Champion Heritage-Catoosa. Currently ranked 2nd in AAAA, they’ll get a chance to see if they’re within shouting distance of Class AAAA foe Marist. Other ranked teams include Whitewater (#6 in AAAAA), Woodward (#3 in AAA), Chapel Hill (#4 in AAA) and Bremen (#9 in AA).
The Marist boys accompany their girls as meet favorites, but they’ll have to work for the win as Woodward Academy stands ready to challenge. Marist is ranked #1 in Class AAAA (and #9 All-Class), while Woodward is ranked #3 in AAA and has been a Top-10 All Class Watch-List team all season. Marist will be at full strength for the first time since UGA, while Woodward brings their very solid group of underclassmen.
Oak Ridge High School brings a very solid squad from just across our northern border, and should be in the running for taking some hardware back home. Likewise coming down from the Volunteer State are Tennessee High School and William Blount, while Fairhope High School visits from Alabama. Other highly ranked teams include Chapel Hill (8th in AAA).
Top 10 Girls Seeds
** the Top 10 Girls and Boys seeds will wear bib numbers 1-10 on Saturday
The girls’ individual race could be the highlight of the meet, with arguably 3 of the top 10 girls in the state going head to head….Victoria Coppage’s 2011 course record of 18:50 appears to be in serious jeopardy.
#1 - Allie Buchalski (Senior, Johns Creek) 3 time state champion; 5:09/11:00 last spring; won last two starts at Fulton County and Wesleyan, 2nd at Covered Bridge and 3rd at Early Bird; has the most pedigree, with multiple state titles and a knack for getting stronger and faster as the season progresses; recently signed with Furman University.
#2 - Morgan Ilse (Sophomore, Marist) 5:13/11:00 last spring; 1 win this season at Double Dip, two 2nd place finishes (both to Katherine Yost) at UGA and Mercy Invite (giving Yost her only real challenge this season at UGA); 18:30 this past weekend at Great American; outstanding first 14 months of her high school career.
#3 - Kathryn Foreman (Freshman, Landmark Christian) 2:24/5:13/11:07 last spring, wins this season at Sandy Creek Fall Classic, First Presbyterian, Panther (Starr’s Mill) Invite, 2nd at Early Bird and 2nd at Wesleyan; Look up “super-frosh” in the dictionary and you’ll see her picture beside it.
#4 - Mackensie Nail (Senior, Whitewater) 5:09/11:18 in the spring; 3 recent 2nds at Sandy Creek, Battle of Atlanta and Double Dip;
#5 - Lindy Long (Senior, Landmark Christian) 5:18/11:22 last spring; won early at Luella Twilight, recent 3rd at Sandy Creek.
#6 - Kate Northrop (Senior, Marist) Closing out a solid 4 year career; sub-20:00 Carrollton performer; 19:45 at Great American last weekend. Strong 7th place finish in a tough field at Double Dip.
#7 – Leah Howard (Senior, Oak Ridge) Comes south from Tennessee with a resume of solid credentials and a solid 4 year career….hasn’t been on a quick course yet this year and seems to be ready to run something fast.
#8 - Ashton Lord (Senior, Chapel Hill) Likewise looking to close out her senior season on a high note; recent wins at Gunderson and Douglas County Championships, strong 4th at Berry.
#9 – Naomy Grand Pierre (Sophomore, Whitefield Academy) Not a name many have heard of, but opened really strong at OLM with a sub-20 and a 4th place finish.
#10 – Macy Carrier (Junior, Tennessee High School) Has posted 2 times in the low-20’s this season with a recent PR of 20:12.
Top 10 Boys Seeds
#1 - Michael Thurston (Junior, Marist) 4:23/9:27 in the spring; 2nd at state XC in 2011, 3rd Georgian at Great American with a strong 15:25; 2012 wins at Mercy and Double Dip. Seems to be the only candidate with a clear chance of taking down Wade Voyles’ course record of 15:44 from 2010.
#2 - Drew Sands (Sophomore, Woodward Academy) Super Sophomore who ran 4:37/9:47 in his spring freshman campaign; solid start in 2012 highlighted by a 16:43 on the new Carrollton layout; opened with a quick 15:49 at Early Bird.
#3 - Daniel Navarro (Junior, Marist) Part of the Super-Class of Juniors; 4:23 in the spring; 1st place at Mercy; 15:29 at UGA and recent sub-16 at Great American; also a strong 3rd at Double Dip.
#4 - Jack Leahey (Senior, Marist) A would-be #1 for most teams, adds a lot to Marist’s chances as a VERY solid #3. 15:47 at UGA, but a 16:41 at Double Dip might be his best effort. Should be rested after a couple of weeks off.
#5 - Nick Wilcox (Senior, Warner Robins) Refreshing new face from central Georgia, ran 4:26/9:51 in the spring; 3 wins this season at Mid-State, Warner Robins and Greyhound. Opened with a 16:54 at Berry and seems to have improved since then.
#6 - Cameron Lord (Sophomore, Chapel Hills) A recent 1st at the Douglas County Championships (16:17 at fast-Clinton) and a 3rd at Gunderson are season highlights; looking to lay claim to the fastest brother/sister combo on Saturday.
#7 - River Holifield (Junior, Woodward Academy) Posted an outstanding 4:30/9:41 in the spring; ready for a breakout performance this season for a very strong Woodward squad.
#8 – John Raville (Junior, Our Lady of Mercy) Late start this season, and not many historical stats (begging the question, where did he come from?) but he had a big win last week at Darlington, following up on a 5th at Starr’s Mill 4 weeks ago. Could be a big surprise.
#9 – Luis Chavez (Junior, Oak Ridge) Stats are a little mis-leading, as he hasn’t been on a fast course this season. He could be better than his numbers show and he’ll definitely be looking to make a statement on his visit to the Peach State.
#10 – Frank Pittman (Freshman, Marist) Working to show up with Kathryn Foreman in the dictionary (under super-frosh), he’s been improving every week, with a strong 17:39 at Double Dip and a 16:48 in Cary, NC last weekend. Ran 4:40 last spring as an 8th grader, so there’s obviously some talent there.
The 2012 Atlanta Classic, hosted by Chapel Hill High School, kicks off at 7:55 AM on Saturday morning at Clinton Nature Preserve in western Douglas County. The Girl’s Championship race begins at 8:45, followed by the Boy’s Championship event at 9:10. Full meet details, including a list of attending teams, can be found on our Meet Home Page on the Milesplit calendar.