Cross country championships preview


Where: Carrollton High School

When: 7:45 a.m. Saturday

The GHSA cross country championships will take place Saturday, once again taking place 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 will try to win back-to-back individual titles.

In AAAA, Marist joins St. Pius as the only other significant favorite in both meets. The War Eagles boys have finished in the top two five consecutive years, winning a title in 2011. Marist’s girls have won five consecutive state championships. This year’s War Eagles team may feature two individual champs — Morgan Ilse and Michael Thurston.

In AAAAAA, Brookwood also is bidding to sweep both titles. The Broncos 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.

Region 6-rivals Wesleyan and Westminster will fight for the title in 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 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-private, 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.