Lovejoy freshman Nichole Slocumb, left, won the county girls championship while Austin Gray of Morrow took first place in the boys ran. (Staff Photo: Derrick Mahone)
HAMPTON - Nichole Slocumb wasn’t sure what to expect in her first Clayton County Cross Country Championships.
As the field gathered at the starting line moments before the race, the Lovejoy freshman became nervous as she started to see runners that she had never seen before.
Once the race got underway, Slocumb had little trouble establishing herself as the runner to beat. She got out in front of the field, and was basically unchallenged as she crossed the finish line in 23 minutes, 17 seconds to capture the title.
“This was a real exciting win, because I was getting real nervous at the start of the race,” Slocumb said. “Once the race got started, and I got out in the lead, I wasn’t going to let anything come between me and the finish line.”
Jasmine Wright of Forest Park was runner-up and Angelica Rivera of Morrow placed third in the county championship. Rounding out the field was Alondran Megana of Forest Park in fourth and Mariah Scott of Morrow was fifth.
The top five runners earned first-team county honors.
Forest Park won the girls title with a score of 37 points with Morrow taking second.
On the boys’ side, Morrow dominated to capture the team title with 19 points while defending champion Forest Park was second with 58 points and Mount Zion and Drew tied for third with 114 points.
Austin Gray of Morrow was the individual champion with a time of 19:36 while Jose Torres of Forest Park was second. The Mustangs Courtland took third while teammates Cameron Pack, Kelsey Price and Lance Papillion took the Nos. 3-6 spots.
“I just feel real bless that I’m in a position to coach these runners,” Morrow coach Anthony McKissic said. “After finishing second last year, they came back real strong and worked towards winning the county. I know my runners say that I’m happy, but I’m real pleased with their effort and ability to win the county title.”
Gray’s title came on the heels of a good showing at last weekend’s Alexander/Asics Cross Country Championship at Fox Hall Farms Sports Club in Douglasville. Gray finished 11th out of 215 runners in the Class AAAAAA/AAAAA meet with a time of 16 minutes, 51 seconds.
“I felt real confident coming into the race,” Gray said. “I thought the entire team executed well. After a good showing last weekend, it gave me a lot of motivation for this meet. I thought the team came out and had a good race in the county meet. We have been working towards winning county since Forest Park has been dominating it.”
Now, the Mustangs turn their attention to the upcoming Region 2-AAAAAA meet, which will be held in DeKalb County. Last season, Morrow finished fourth int he region and earned a spot in the state championship.
“We know we are going to face some good competition in the region meet,” McKissic said. “My focus has been on getting us ready for that meet. I think this gives us some confidence going into that meet.”