GHSA State Cross Country Championships Preview

ajc.com

The high school cross country season will come to an end this weekend at the GHSA Cross Country State Championships, presented by Atlanta Track Club, at the Carrollton cross country course at Carrollton High School on Friday and Saturday.

After reclassification this season, several programs will be competing in different classes which creates interesting matchups on both the boys and girls sides of the competition.

In the state’s highest class (7A), Walton’s boys and Hillgrove’s girls return to defend their titles. On the boys side, No. 3 Harrison reclassed up from 6A where it won a state title last season and will try again this year in a new class. Sully Shelton and Noah Connelly are favorites for the Hoyas. Top-ranked Denmark has thrust itself on the scene in 7A and leads No. 2 Marietta. Denmark’s Ethan Ashley, Chinmay Dongari, Hayden Hare, and Tavian Anderson are its strongest runners. Norcross is No. 4 ahead of Lambert, Mill Creek, Milton, East Coweta, Brookwood and Parkview to fill out the top 10. For the girls, Marietta is at the top with defending champion Hillgrove at No. 2. Hillgrove might have lost two top 10 finishers from last year, however Ava Brooks, Lizzy Smith, Reese Terza, Gabriela Osornio, and Reese Connelly will perform for the Hawks. Lambert is No. 3 with South Forsyth, Mill Creek, Parkview, Etowah, Harrison, North Gwinnett and West Forsyth rounding out the top 10 entering the state meet.

On the boy’s side of Class 6A, the defending champs – Harrison – are now in Class 7A and the classification is wide open. After the region meets, there seems to be no obvious favorites with quality competition at the top. Carrollton, Alexander, Cambridge, Richmond Hill, North Atlanta and Pope are all in the hunt. Carrollton tops the rankings, and its home course advantage could factor for the top runner, Collin Jones. For the girls, Cambridge has won three consecutive titles and after losing the balance of its 2017-2019 squad, the Bears have retooled their program and are very much able to defend for the fourth straight season. Pope enters the meet as the top-ranked team and Sophie Boice could lead the Greyhounds to victory. Riverwood, Allatoona, River Ridge, Sequoyah and Lakeside-DeKalb are all threatening.

In Class 5A, the Blessed Trinity boys entered from 4A this season and top the rankings entering the state meet. The Titans have three runners that could place in the top five spots including Adam Wade, Ben Rothering, and Zack Burke. Blessed Trinity is closely followed in the poll by No. 2 St. Pius X, the 4A defending champions, who have won eight titles in ten seasons. Blessed Trinity won back-to-back 4A titles in 2014-15. Decatur, Starr’s Mill and Locust Grove round out the top 5 programs entering the meet. On the girl’s side, St. Pius X tops the poll and will try to win a second consecutive championship after its 4A title last season. Mary Brady and Hannah Schemmel are the top runners for St. Pius X. Blessed Trinity, which sat its top 5 runners at the region meet and still won, is the top challenger. McIntosh, Union Grove and Starr’s Mill are chasing.

In Class 4A, two-time defending champion St. Pius X has left the class and now, Marist tops the boys poll as it looks for its 13th state title. The Eagles top runners are Diego Palmisano and Jaylen Mallett. Chestatee, Flowery Branch, Jefferson and North Oconee are the top 5 teams entering the meet. On the girls side, top-ranked Marist won 11 consecutive state titles from 2008-2018 before being snubbed by St. Pius X last season. The War Eagles enter the meet as the favorite and could place seven runners in the top 15. Jefferson, North Oconee, Flowery Branch and Columbus are in the top 5 and chasing.

Westminster’s hold on 3A is undeniable on both sides of the class and it begs the question, who can beat the Wildcats? For the boys, Westminster has won 27 state championships and the past three in Class 3A. For the girls, there are 32 cross country trophies in their case, including the past six in 3A with a tie with Wesleyan in Class 2A in 2013. On the boys side, Matthew Fernando leads a Wildcat squad which could place five runners in the top 10-15. Oconee County, Dawson County, Cherokee Bluff and Southeast Bulloch will try to spoil Westminster’s showing. On the girls side, Westminster will be led by defending individual champion Mira Srinivasa, Palmer Walstead, Cate Stevens and Janie Cooper. Oconee County, North Hall, White County and Cherokee Bluff are the top contenders.

Former 3A powers top the boys Class 2A poll with top-ranked Pace Academy and No. 2 Lovett entering the state meet as favorites. Banks County, Jeff Davis, Union County and defending champion Oglethorpe County top the poll entering the meet. For the girls, Pace Academy tops the poll and will try to upend four-time defending champion Bleckley County, which enters the state meet as the No. 2 program in the class. Lovett, Oglethorpe County, Vidalia and Jeff Davis are top contenders.

On the boy’s side of Class A Private, Wesleyan enters as the two-time defending champions and the top-ranked program. The Wolves have won 11 titles and will fend off Holy Innocents' Whitefield Academy, Paideia, Athens Academy and Deerfield-Windsor, the top challengers. On the girl’s side, Hebron Christian enters at the top-ranked program and will look to fend off Wesleyan, defending champion Holy Innocents', Athens Academy, Paideia and North Cobb Christian.

The Commerce boys won its only Class A Public title last season and enter the state meet as the top-ranked program in the class. Armuchee, ACE Charter, Towns County, Lake Oconee Academy and Georgia Military are in the hunt. For the girls, ACE Charter won its first state title last season and returns as the favored team entering the meet. Armuchee, Atlanta Classical Academy, Commerce and Georgia Military are the top 5 programs that will challenge the champs.

2019 Boys Champions: 7A Walton, 6A Harrison, 5A Decatur, 4A St. Pius X, 3A Westminster, 2A Oglethorpe County, A Private Wesleyan, A Public Commerce

2019 Girls Champions: 7A Hillgrove, 6A Cambridge, 5A McIntosh, 4A St. Pius X, 3A Westminster, 2A Bleckley County, A Private Holy Innocents', A Public ACE Charter

When

November 6-7, 2020

Where

Carrollton Course

Carrollton High School

202 Trojan Drive

Carrollton, GA

Map and Directions

Friday November 6, 2020

9:00 am - 3A Boys 9:45 am - 3A Girls 10:30 am - 4A Boys 11:15 am - 4A Girls 12:00 noon - 6A Boys 12:45 pm - 6A Girls

Saturday November 7, 2020

8:00 am - 5A Boys 8:45 am - 5A Girls 9:30 am - A Private Boys 10:15 am - A Private Girls 11:00 am - 7A Boys 11:45 am - 7A Girls 12:30 pm - 2A Boys 1:15 pm - 2A Girls 2:00 pm - 1A Public Boys 2:45 pm - 1A Public Girls

Meet Results View “live” State Meet Results by Perfect Timing Group

Course Map Download the Course Map by clicking here.