By Ricky Dimon
Marist, whose boys and girls are both ranked No. 1 in the state, swept titles at last weekend’s Darlington CC Festival in Rome. The Marist boys held off Etowah by eight points after putting three racers in the top seven overall. Michael Thurston of the War Eagles finished first in 15:52. Etowah also posted a runner-up performance in the girls meet, although Marist completely dominated the field. Led by Morgan Ilse’s second-place run in 18:01, the War Eagles posted an average time of 19:29. No other school was faster than 20:14. Tayler Tuttle of Providence Christian broke the tape just ahead of Ilse in 18:00.
The Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers hosted a dramatic Aubrae Gunderson Invitational last Saturday. In the boys’ championship heat, Flowery Branch edged Mill Creek by two points to take home the title. Mill Creek posted the fastest average time (16:07) thanks in part to Tyler Woodrome capturing top individual honors in 15:11, but Flowery Branch’s depth proved to be the difference. The Falcons placed all five of their point-scorers in a 14-second span between 10th place (James Slavik in 16:09) and 21st.
Mill Creek did one better on the girls’ side, racing away in the championship division ahead of runner-up Westminster and third-place Starr’s Mill. The Hawks had three runners in the top seven overall and five in the top 20, including individual champion Lauren Hovis in 18:31. Morgan Mihalis crossed the line second in 18:37 and helped Lakeside-DeKalb to a fifth-place showing.
Several top-ranked teams are heading out of state this weekend to participate in prestigious events. Marist is traveling to Cary, N.C. for the Great American Cross Country Festival. The Peachtree Ridge boys will be competing in Jacksonville, Fla. at the Bale N Trail Cross Country Original. Westminster’s boys are running at the Wendy’s Invitational in Charlotte, N.C. On the home front, the 32nd Annual Westover Invitation will welcome Centennial, Creekview, Lovett and Pace Academy.