2012 Clarke-Oconee XC Championship Preview

Henry Dwyer of Athens Academy is on a tear in Class A....

                                                        Clarke-Oconee Preview  by Coach Tom Pee

                                                                       History of the Meet

      The annual Clarke-Oconee Cross Country Meet will take place at Athens Academy Tuesday Oct 16th.   The meet, now in its 5th year grew out of the long standing Athens City Meet, which had been contested annually since 1984.  That meet was the brainchild of Harry Buford (Cedar Shoals) and Fred Black (Athens Academy) and was an extension of the long standing competition between Athens rivals Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central.   Those two schools won 5 Boys State Championships in the 70’s and waged a very heated completion within their region in those years. The original “Athens City Meet” was held in 1984 with Athens Academy taking the boy’s team title and Cedar Shoals winning the girl’s race.  The Spartans also won the next two and the Lady Jaguars won 6 more times before their streak ended.   In the subsequent years Clarke Central has won nine boy’s titles while Athens Academy and Cedar Shoals both have captured six.   In the girls meet the Lady Spartans have won fifteen titles including an incredible 13 straight from 1993 to 2005.  Cedar Shoals has won the girl’s meet  8 times. 

      As other Athens area schools joined the GHSA, the meet was expanded to include them and in 2008 it was expanded further to include all GHSA schools in Clarke and Oconee Counties.  Oconee County High School won both divisions of the inaugural Clarke-Oconee Championships and Athens Christian captured both titles in both 2009 and 2010.  Last year, Athens Academy’s boys won for the first time since 2002, while the ACS girls made it 3 in a row.  Spartan Henry Dwyer captured the individual title leading his team to the victory, while Olivia Pigg of North Oconee captured the girl’s title helping the Titans capture 2nd place in the team standings.

       The individual champion has been a Clarke Central Gladiator ten times, and the girls champ has been a Lady Spartan twelve times.  There have been 3 boys who won three titles, Paul Deaton of Athens Academy (’84, ’85, ’86), along with Brandon Griffin (’91, ’92, ’93) and Alan Hendrick (’96, ’97, ’98) both of Clarke Central.  Two girls, Kristin Austin of Athens Academy (’96-’99) and Whitney Bishoff of Athens Christian (’04-’07) have won 4 straight titles.  


The Meet Schedule will be as follows:
4:15 MS Races (Boys with Girls starting at 4:23)
5:00 Varsity Boys
5:30 Varsity Girls
6:00 Junior Varsity Boys and Girls

                                                                  HS Boys Championship Race       

      This year’s races should be very competitive in both divisions.  In the boy’s meet Athens Christian looks to recapture the title led by Morgan Bishoff and Chaney Westbrook.  Also running well  for ACS are brothers Steven and James Corsaniti along with Jay Acker.  The Eagles are currently ranked 6th in Class A Private Schools and have posted some impressive times this past weekend in winning the Viking Invitational in Macon. 

     Athens Academy, currently ranked #1 in Class A, has looked strong in the past month, winning at the FPD Invitational in Macon, the Aubrae Gunderson Invitational in Conyers and at Wesleyan.  In those events the Spartans have bested some of the top teams in larger classes including Westminster, Wesleyan, Chapel Hill and Alexander. They are led by senior Henry Dwyer, who has won this event last year and has looked strong, especially when posting a 16:03 in the meet in Macon.   Following Dwyer the Spartans send fellow senior Kurt Crymes and sophomore Adam Hearn who have both broken the 17 minute barrier this season.  Behind them are Sam Williams and Will Miller who have also posted impressive times in recent weeks.

      Oconee County has enjoyed success of late with a solid finish in Conyers in the most competitive division, where they finished 8th. The top competitors for the Warriors have been Matthew Morris, Wake Roberds, John Isaac Smith and Marshall Reed.  That group is followed by a tightly grouped pack and makes the Warriors a strong threat.  They are currently ranked 9th in AAA.

      North Oconee has been led all year by sophomore Cole Thornton, who has been followed closely by two talented freshman, Harper Sigler, Thomas Moore and fellow sophomore Tyler Jones.  Not far back have been Robby Bray, Scott Bowden and Preston Devaney.  The Titans have been ranked 4th in Class AAA for much of the season and look like a real threat to win their first Clarke-Oconee title.

      Prince Avenue has run mostly local meets and has been consistently led by a pair of sophomores,  Thomas Clements and Silas Stocks who both had strong days at the Oglethorpe County Best in Class race last month.

      Returning most of last year's top seven, the close-knit Clarke Central team continues to show what practicing and racing as a pack can produce.  At any given race, this team could have a different runner lead the way shown by its average time gap of forty seconds from runners 1-7.  Seniors Jacob Cona and David Fisher have continued to set the tone they established last year while fellow senior Daniel Collier has quietly worked his way into the team's top five through his consistency and determination to succeed.  Also very much in the mix in this squad are seniors Carver Goodhue and Henry Siebentritt as well as sophomores Joe Aubry and Tomislav Zabcic-Matic.  This crew of young men hope their hard work will pay off at the Region Championship to bring the Gladiators back to the State Meet for the first time since 2007.

      The Jaguars of Cedar Shoals should be led by transfer Josiah Jenkins who has looked impressive running sparingly for his new school.  Running individually at the Great American Cross Country Meet in North Carolina, he posted at 15:54 which makes him a real threat to challenge for the title.  His teammates have competed well this year with top finishes coming from Jordan Coleman, Jack Schramski and Kenneth Adams, who all ran well at the Gunderson Invitational in Conyers.

                                                              HS Girls Championship Race

      The Girls race should be wide open for both the individual and team titles as ACS looks to win their 4th  straight and last year’s individual champion has moved out of state.

      The Lady Eagles of ACS have been running well.  Taking up the lead role has been sophomore Elizabeth Gunther who has been a top finisher for ACS most of the season.  She has regularly been joined at the front of the pack by freshmen Kristen Westbrook and Destiny Burns.  The ACS girls are currently ranked 4th for the Class A Private Schools and are coming off of a solid race in Macon where they placed 2nd close behind Class A #2 First Presbyterian.

      The Lady Spartans have been steadily progressing, earning several strong finishes in competitive meets in the last few weeks.  They run in a tight pack led by senior Emily Hansford and junior Natalie Busener followed closely by seniors Sarah Whatley, MacKinsey Cole and Caroline Laboon.  The Lady Spartans are ranked 8th in the Class A Private School division.

      The Lady Warriors have enjoyed recent success as well, running well at Conyers and the Asics meet.  They are currently ranked 8th in AAA.  They tend to run in a fairly tight pack which has been consistently led this year by Sydney Brady.  Also running well have been Maria Kreisel and Bethany Walshe who was second overall in this meet last year.

      The Lady Titans of North Oconee were looking for a replacement for last year’s champion Pigg, whose family moved away this summer, and they have found her in freshman phenom Rachel Sigler.  She has stepped into the role and looks to be a strong challenger for the individual title.  Her season best of 20:02 at Oglethorpe County in September is the best local time this fall.  Close behind her is usually a tight pack including Kara Thornton, Emily Measel and Emma Lowring.  This tight pack has earned the Lady Titans a ranking of 7th in AAA thus far.

      After losing 5 of their top 7 Region runners to graduation last year, the girls' team from Clarke Central seemed to be in a rebuilding phase, but thanks to good health and good fortune this year's team has a strong squad driven by four freshman and a junior.  Junior Gabrielle Saupe has returned from injury this year to be a consistent example of hard work and mental toughness for the rest of the team. Freshman Allie Dominicali has led the team in almost every race this year as a result of Saupe's leadership.  Other surprise notables for the Lady Gladiators are freshmen Ella Sams, Magda Striepen, and Mary Merritt.  As a result, this team will compete hard for a state qualifying spot at the Region Championships for the second consecutive year.

      The Cedar Shoals Lady Jags are led by junior Anna Shramski and sophomore Savanna Crane and are coming off a solid victory at Athens Academy on October 3rd, where they bested a 7 team field.  Shamona Brown and Jackie Umana have been the next finishers most consistently for the Lady Jags.