With four of the five schools in The Crier coverage area winning at least one state championship in their respective divisions, a strong argument can be made that this is the cross country hotbed of Georgia.
Not only did such perennial champions as Marist, St. Pius and Wesleyan win state titles, but the Dunwoody High girls won the state title.
Cool temperatures and clear skies greeted spectators and runners alike on Saturday morning – near perfect conditions for running. The day began at 8:30 a.m. with the AAAA boys’ event. Marist and participated in this race, featuring 233 runners from 32 teams across the state.
The Marist War Eagles finished in first place with 44 points and a team average time of 16:53.02 to become the 2012 state champions in AAAA. Three of Marist’s runners finished in the top 10, two of whom boasted national silver standard times. Individual state champion Michael Thurston was first across the finish line with a time of 16:12.72, followed closely by teammates Daniel Navarro, second place, with a time of 16:16.83 and Jack Leahey, fifth place, with a time of 16:51.45. Also competing for Marist were Jim Galvin, Frank Pittman, Max Demacedo, and Graham White. Thurston’s and Navarro’s times qualified them for national silver elite runner status.
Chamblee finished in 16th place with 408 points and a team average time of 18:49.38. The next event was the Girls’ AAAA race featuring 221 runners from 32 teams. Once again, Marist claimed not only the state title with 46 points and a team average time of 20:21.06, but also the first runner across the finish line. Individual state champion Morgan Ilse completed the 5K course in 19:16.48, a time that meets national silver elite runner status. She was closely followed by fifth-place finisher, Kate Northrop, with a time of 20:12.43. Also running for Marist were Marlaina Schwab, Myriam Shehata, Courtney Marburger, Kellie Kratzenberg, and Caitie Faust.
The Chamblee Lady Bulldogs finished in 21st place with 599 points and a team average time of 25:02.44.
The next event of the morning was the Class AA boys’ race, featuring 213 runners from 31 teams. The Wesleyan Wolves finished in second place with 47 points and a team average time of 18:07.69. Competing for Wesleyan were Austin Schanen (17:55.63), who finished in sixth place overall, Matt Moratti (18:04.07), who finished in ninth place overall, and Benji Johnson (18:05.83) who finished in 10th place overall.
The Class AA girls’ race featured 190 runners from 29 teams. Wesleyan’s girls won the state championship with a score of 31 points and a team average time of 20:46.51, edging out runner-up Westminster by 10 points. A sea of green raced downhill toward the finish line as Wesleyan and Westminster jockeyed for the top positions. Wesleyan prevailed with four runners in the top 10: Caroline Reed (20:10.96), who finished in second place, Ellie Bradach (20:30.04), who finished in third place, Jordan Zimmerman (20:59.41), who finished in seventh place, and Taylor Panther (20:00.01) who finished in eighth place overall.
By the time the AAAAA events began, sunscreen instead of gloves and earmuffs were needed by runners and spectators alike. The medical tent also became busier as more runners struggled with cramps and other conditions associated with dehydration. But the Dunwoody harriers were undeterred by the unusually warm weather and the brutal hills of the Carrollton course.
The Class AAAAA girls’ race featured 223 runners from 32 teams. Dunwoody became state champions with 86 points and a team average time of 20:49.67. Leading the way for Dunwoody was individual state champion Alex Cameron, whose first-place finish was completed in 19:49.96. She was followed by Kailey Williams, who finished in fourth place in 20:15.67. Also competing for Dunwoody were Ansley Heavern, Erin Berger, Kenzie Johnson, Ann-Marie Sills, and Jennifer Hardister.
The Class AAAAA boys’ race featured 223 runners from 32 teams. The Wildcats finished in 12th place with 413 points and a team average time of 18:48.19. Running for Dunwoody were Blake Tiede, Adam Christopher, Connor McKnight, Tyler Lu, Quinton Johnson, Noah Goldstein, and Cadmiel Velazquez.
By early afternoon, the Class AAA events were starting. The boys’ event featured 213 runners from 30 teams while the girls’ race featured 201 runners from 30 teams. The St. Pius boys’ and girls’ teams both won the state championship in Class AAA.
The boys’ team finished with 36 points and a team average time of 16:58.51. Leading the way for the Golden Lions was individual state champion Austin Sprague, whose time of 16:26.29 qualifies him for the national silver elite runner. Three other harriers finished in the top ten: Calvin Tirrell (16:41.46) finished in second place, Joseph Ferrugia (15:45.81) finished in third place, and Andrew Anastasiades (17:08.47) finished in fifth place overall. Rounding out the team were Stephen Martinez, Sergei Templeton, and Thomas Glenn.
The girls’ team from St. Pius finished with 36 points and a team average time of 20:45.35. Three of the team members finished in the top 10: Devon Dabney (20:21.39), who finished in second place, Margaret Crawford (20:23.66) who finished in third place, and Emma Jayne Braxton (20:42.02), who finished in seventh place overall. Also competing for the Golden Lions were Katie Glenn, Elizabeth Pettit, Sarah Fristoe, and Rachel Pyden.