Courtesy of www.gwinnettprepsports.com
CARROLLTON — Coming into Friday’s state cross country meet, the Brookwood and Wesleyan girls knew they had the talent for a podium finish. But when the final results were announced, it didn’t change the elation both teams had when they found out they each took home second place as a team in each of their divisions.
Brookwood (128 points), paced by Elizabeth Saliba’s fifth-place finish, finished second in the Class AAAAAAA race behind South Forsyth, which placed three in the top 10 to claim the title with 74 points.
“They ran great,” said Brookwood coach Chris Carter. “They were really relaxed all week. We tried to keep everything as normal as possible even with the meet on Friday. They’ve been running well all year, so why would we change anything?”
When describing Saliba, who finished with a time of 19 minutes, 41.48 seconds, Carter said he wishes he could take more credit for her success.
“You want to talk about a calm kid,” he said. “I’m not going to change what she’s been doing. She’s been working her butt off. She was a 24-minute kid two years ago.”
Reese Sadler (20:40.79) also ran well for the Broncos, finishing in 19th, while Avery Freeman (21:04.26) was 27th, Hannah Gatland (21:24.95) was 36th and Mackenzie Ellison (21:39.36) was 48th.
For Carter, getting the Broncos back on the podium is a huge deal.
“Two years ago, we finished 14th and it was kind of a low point as a group,” Carter said. “We talked about that tradition and how we can’t let that go. We talked about the importance of running for each other and they’ve brought us back (here). Two years ago, I thought the tradition was in trouble, but these upperclassmen brought something back that will last for many years to come.”
Other top teams from Gwinnett included North Gwinnett (222) in eighth place, Peachtree Ridge (271) in 10th, Mill Creek (272) in 11th and Archer (324) in 13th.
Individually, Peachtree Ridge’s Mary Kathryn Knott was the leading Gwinnett runner, finishing in third with a time of 19:17.32.
“I tried to go out fast with the top group,” Knott said. “I was like 15th or 16th and I just focused on picking off people in the race. At the 800 (to go), I just went.”
Other top finishers from Gwinnett included Mill Creek’s Camryn Petit (19:53.24) in seventh place and Archer’s Grace Spivey (21:03.98) in 25th place.
Wesleyan had a 19-second split from runners 1-5, edging out region and county rival Hebron Christian, 133-139, for second place.
“The pack was impressive to have our first through fifth runners eight places apart really says something about how hard those girls worked and their ability to fulfill a strategy that was put into place,” said Wesleyan coach Chad McDaniel. “I have to thank our coaches because they do unbelievable things with our kids. We didn’t know where it would shake out. We felt like if we ran out of our minds, we could finish second, but we knew it would be a long shot.”
That pack was led by Nicole Fasciana (22:12.22) in 25th, Mary Ann Manley (22:15.30) in 26th and Sophia Kidder (22:21.20) in 28th. Miller Louthan (22:30.05) finished 31st and Anna Turner (22:31.54) was 33rd.
Hebron also had a strong race with Miranda Taylor (21:03.11) leading the way in 11th, but after Wesleyan’s pack swallowed up their next runners as the Wolves had three runners in before two of Hebron’s, and five runners in before four for the Lions.
Amanda Jackson (22:29.82) also ran well for the Lions in 30th place, while McKenna Taylor (22:30.16) was 32nd. Tori Johnson (22:41.94) and Alyssa Hawkins (22:42.97) were not too far behind in 37th and 38th.