By Ricky Dimon
What: GHSA State Cross Country Championships
Where: Carrollton High School
When: Saturday, 7:45 a.m.
The GHSA cross country championships will take place Saturday, once again at a famed and extremely difficult Carrollton course. Action begins in Class AAA, giving St. Pius a chance to kick off the proceedings with a double coronation. The Golden Lions sit comfortably atop both the boys and girls rankings, although the boys may be pushed by North Hall. Austin Sprague of the St. Pius boys is bidding to win back-to-back individual titles.
In Class AAAA, Marist joins St. Pius as the only other significant favorite in both meets. The War Eagle boys have finished in the top two of state five straight years and they won it all in 2011. Marist’s girls have won five consecutive state championships. This year’s War Eagles may feature a pair of individual champs, as well, in Morgan Ilse and Michael Thurston.
In Class AAAAAA, Brookwood is also bidding to sweep both titles. The Bronco girls, who are defending their 2012 championship, may find themselves locked in a two-team race with Peachtree Ridge. On the boys side, Brookwood, Peachtree Ridge, Parkview, Harrison, Marietta and defending champion Mill Creek could all contend. Marietta and Harrison have been especially impressive late in the season, with the Blue Devils edging runner-up Harrison last Wednesday in Region 4 competition.
Speaking of two-team battles, Region 6 rivals Wesleyan and Westminster will duke it out in Class AA. The top-ranked Wesleyan girls finished third at the region meet but rested several of their top runners. Lovett took advantage of its opportunity by snagging the Region 6 crown and the Lions cannot be discounted at the state meet. The No. 1 Westminster boys beat Wesleyan for the region championship and posted superior times at Carrollton’s recent Last Chance Invitational, but the Wolves are not far behind.
One of the more entertaining showdowns should come late in the afternoon in the Class AAAAA girls meet. Dunwoody, Starr’s Mill and Northview are expected to be major players in the title race.
Galloway star Reilly Friedman looks to reclaim his individual crown in Class A, while Region 5 champion Landmark Christian will look to unseat defending champion Athens Academy. Landmark Christian is the defending girls state state champion, but will have to resist a formidable Darlington squad. Landmark’s Kathryn Foreman, Providence Christian’s Tayler Tuttle and Helen Willliams of Atlanta International are the top individual contenders.