By Brian Paglia
The cross country region championship meets come in a flurry the weekend before the GHSA state meet. At stake is a team's or individual's qualification for the state meet, which takes place at Carrollton High School.
Here's a round-up of how Southern Crescent teams performed at region championship meets this past Saturday:
At Clinton Nature Preserve at Alexander High School, teams from Clayton County had a hard time amounting much of a threat to teams from more rural counties. But a few runners were able to be competitive.
In the boys race, Lovejoy's Jeremy Nuness was the only runner from Clayton to finish in the top 10. Nuness finished 10th in 18:18.
In the girls race, Mundy's Mill had a pair of runners make it into the top 15. Tamara Holyfield, a senior, finished eighth overall in 21:02. Rashia Powers' time of 21:46 was good for 11th.
Union Grove girls cross country team continued its recent dominance, capturing its fourth straight region title Saturday at Luella.
Rayna Green led the Lady Wolverines, winning the individual title with a time of 20:40.
Luella's girls team qualified for the state meet, finishing third.
In the boys race, Union Grove's Sony Prosper was the individual winner, finishing in a time of 16:54. The Wolverines finished third overall in the team standings to qualify for Carrollton.
Luella's boys team finished second in the team standings.
With five runners squeaking into the top 5, Stockbridge cruised to a first-place finish with 34 points, ahead of Alcovy (47) and Ola (48), at Alcovy on Saturday.
The Tigers were led by Aaron Coleman's second-place finish in 18:31. Rashaun Adams (19:36) finished fourth and Roderick Byars (19:37) followed right behind him for fifth.
Ola's third-place finish was led by Justin Irvin, who finished third overall individually in 18:39. The Mustangs also got strong runs from Devin Simpson (19:43, seventh) and Brent Huntley (19:47, eighth).
In the girls race, Ola captured the region championship with 24 points thanks to placing five runners -- including three freshmen -- in the top 10.
They were: Megan Lawhead (second, 23:57); Chelsea Noble (third, 24:46); Katie Irvin (fifth, 25:43); Amber Myers (sixth, 26:39); and Emily Kanniard (eighth, 27:19).
Forest Park finished a distant second with 59 points, but the Lady Panthers had the overall winner in Evante Belardo, who finished in 23:42.
Leave Woodward Academy out of the race and Eagle's Landing would have had quite a weekend to celebrate.
The Golden Eagles finished runner-up to the War Eagles in both the boys and girls races at Spalding High School on Saturday.
In the boys race, Eagle's Landing, which finished the regular season ranked No. 3 in Class AAA by GATFXC.com, narrowly lost to Woodward, which had 29 points to Eagle's Landing's 32.
Zack Sims led the Golden Eagles with a second-place finish in 17:16. Keanan Joyner finished third in 18:16, Ryan New finished eighth in 18:39, Lois Reyes finished ninth in 18:44 and Mckenzie Marvelin finished 10th.
Woodland finished fourth with 116 points, led by Seyroy Plaza (18th, 19:43).
Locust Grove's Michael Jacob Smith cracked the top 20 at 19th in 19:44.
In the girls race, the Lady Golden Eagles couldn't contend with Woodward's superior depth, but nonetheless finished second with 56 points.
Felishia Dyer paced Eagle's Landing with a fourth-place finish in 22:30. Emma Reardon (seventh, 22:51) and April Bagwell (eighth, 22:53) also had strong races for the Lady Golden Eagles.
Luke Baker will go into this Saturday's state meet as the presumed favorite in Class A. But this past Saturday, in his last tune-up before the state meet, Baker captured the individual region title at Wesleyan High School.
Baker finished first in a time of 16:54. His teammate Dacosta Smith finished seventh in 18:15. ELCA was third in the team standings with 86 points behind region champion Wesleyan (27) and Providence Christian (59).
The Chargers finish the regular ranked No. 6 in Class A in GATFXC.com final regular season poll.
In the girls race, Morgan Allman was the lone Lady Chargers runner to crack the top 10. She finished fifth in 22:36. ELCA was fifth in the team standings.