The GHSA state cross country meet takes place Friday and Saturday in Carrollton and 21 local boys and girls’ team will make the trip in hopes of solid performances.
“I think our boys team has a great opportunity to get a top five finish,” said Mitch Horton, who along with David Shepherd, is one of the cross country coaches at Veterans, whose team is coming off of a 17th place finish a year ago. “Our times are pretty good and if things fall in line we could have a chance to finish even higher. Our mindset going in is that we are going to Carrollton and we are just going to get after it and go for it.”
Veteran’s strength is the depth of the five runners they use. Robbie Griffin, Aamari Ducksworth, Brett Horton, Griffin Hodges and Andrew Bos have all had high finishes in different meets this year. “We feel like we are in good shape with these guys and we really don’t have one standout,” Horton said. “All five of these guys are very capable of having great performances this weekend.”
The Veterans girls’ team is also making the trip and they will be led by sophomore Kenzie Walls. “We are hoping that Kenzie will finish in the top 10 overall and as a team a top 15 finish would be great,” Horton said. “Cross country is a big deal for us and we have a group who has worked hard to be ready for the state meet.”
The FPD boys and girls teams also have high hopes for the state meet. The boys team has had a strong year, finishing in the top four in eight of 10 races this year, and hasn’t lost to a Bibb County school this season. They are led by freshman Jack Beeland and senior Cooper Martin, with Camden Lashley, Jack Hardy and Wyatt Hicks rounding out the top five.
“I think it would be a miracle if we were able to finish in the top five because Class A Private is absolutely loaded,” said FPD head coach Derek Lashley, whose team is ranked 13th heading into the meet. “We just want to go and see what we can do against the state’s best runners and I have confidence that my guys will rise to the occasion.”
The FPD girls came into the season hoping to qualify for the state meet and now will be looking for a top 15 finish. They are led by freshman Reese Lefholz and junior Mia Ferro, with Mary Jane Bonfim, Karsten Herron and Anna Grace Reeves rounding out the top five.
The Jones County girls probably have the best chance to actually have a runner to win a state championship with Erin Leonard, who won three state championships at the state track meet last year, and won at the state cross country meet a year ago. Along with Laney Doster, who is the top ranked freshman in the state, the Greyhounds are hoping for a high finish.
“We have a real chance to be in the top five,” Jones County head coach Geoff Moore said. “Our girls have worked hard and have improved every meet. And I am expecting a great performance out of all of them this weekend.”
Other local teams at the state meet include:
Girls: Stratford, ACE, Northeast, Central, Peach County, Mary Persons, Howard, Perry, Northside
Boys: Northeast, Peach County, Central, Perry Mary Persons, Warner Robins, Northside