From Staff Reports
Murray County’s boys cross country team was the best in two different categories among local high school teams Saturday at the state meets at Carrollton High School.
The Indians had the best overall team score and the best individual finish.
Murray County finished ninth in the Class 2A race and Servio Martinez finished 19th overall to lead the Indians. Coahulla Creek’s boys finished 11th in the Class 3A race, while Northwest Whitfield’s boys squad finished 14th in the Class 4A competition. On the girls side, Coahulla Creek placed 18th and Murray County finished 20th.
Southeast Whitfield’s Luis Perez, the only local runner competing solely as an individual, placed 20th in the Class 4A race for the second best finish among local runners.
Westminster won the boys 2A race with 34 points, followed by Wesleyan (57), Bleckley County (132), Lovett (165), Jefferson (222), Calhoun (230), Thomasville (251), Benedictine (259) and Murray County (260).
“That course is typically 45 seconds to a minute slower than what we normally run,” Murray County coach Sam Young said. “Our first four did really well. We just had a big space between Nos. 4 and 5.”
The Indians were led by Martinez’s time of 18 minutes, 18 seconds. Also scoring for Murray County in the 5K race was Antonio Martinez (54th, 19:17), Jose Ruiz (55th, 19:17), Filiberto Nunez (58th, 19:20) and Austin Pearson (95th, 20:04).
The only from that group returning next season is Antonio Martinez, a sophomore.
“I can’t say I’m happy,” Servio Martinez said, “because I think we could’ve done better. ... I don’t think we ran as good as we should’ve. I think we should’ve been in the top five or top three.
“It’s a tough course, but the competition evened it out.”
On the girls side, Wesleyan captured the Class 2A state title with 43 points, followed by Westminster (45), Lovett (61), Bleckley County (145) and St. Vincent’s (180) in the top five.
Leading the Lady Indians was Kaitlyn Richardson (59th, 24:03). Following her was Kloe Brown (115th, 26:34), Nicole Hammett (131st, 27:41), Monica Bermudez (132nd, 27:53) and Maddie Phillips (136th, 27:58).
“I’m extremely proud of the effort from both of my teams,” Young said.
Coahulla Creek’s boys, the only local team entering the state meets with a region title, scored 303 points and trailed Savannah Arts Academy’s 295 for a top-10 finish. St. Pius X won the boys 3A title with 26 points, followed by North Hall (46), Woodward Academy (82), Blessed Trinity (128) and Oconee County (192) in the top five.
Walt Douglas led the Colts in 35th place at 17:57. He was followed by Sadoth Fraire (40th, 18:02), Timothy Hooper (54th, 18:30), Missael Fraire (70th, 18:46) and Gaspar Andres (105th, 19:41).
“We were going for a top 10,” Coahulla Creek coach Josh Deslattes said. “If you look at the gap between eighth and 11th, where we finished, it was really close. We had to pull our fifth guy, Oscar Andres, this morning. He had a back injury and couldn’t run.”
Blessed Trinity won the girls 3A title with 39 points, ahead of St. Pius X (53), White County (93), North Oconee (122) and Woodward Academy (160) in the top five. Coahulla Creek’s girls scored 572 points and were led by Morgan King (82nd, 23:24). Also scoring for the Lady Colts were Evelyn Botello (116th, 24:34), Bethany Goodwin (122nd, 24:39), Hayley Hight (136th, 25:32) and Ationza Smith (142nd, 25:47).
Luis Perez, who qualified as an individual with a fifth-place finish at the Region 7-4A meet last week, had a time of 17:47 at state. That was 31 seconds slower than his region time.
“I also think the weather played into it,” Southeast coach Carrie Bishop said of the freshman. “He did great. He was coming in on the last stretch, and a kid passed him and then he just took off and earned his spot back. That was the difference between finishing 21st and 20th.”
In the Class 4A boys meet, Marist won with 53 points, followed by LaGrange (75), Pickens (136), Perry (230) and Alexander (232) in the top five. Northwest’s boys scored 372 points.
“I thought if we had a good day we’d be in the top 15,” Bruins coach Tom Sell said. “A great day would be in the top 10. It’s what I hoped for.
“Carrollton is loaded with hills. Everybody’s time is slower.”
Henson Gibbs (24th, 17:51) led Northwest, which also received scoring runs from Lane Bramblett (78th, 18:47), Brandon Balino (88th, 18:58), Kyle Roberts (93rd, 19:04) and Dylan Richards (116th, 19:23).
“It was a very tough course,” said Gibbs, a sophomore. “I didn’t expect like a 16:00 or anything, but there were about six or seven hills. Each was a challenge to get over.”
• Dalton’s competitive cheerleading team scored a 260 out of a maximum 300 points to win the Region 7-4A championship, which was held at Dalton High School.
The Lady Catamounts beat River Ridge (235). Northwest competes as a co-ed team this season, Dalton coach Tami Fleming said, and therefore didn’t compete at the region competition. Southeast also didn’t compete.
The scoring at competitive cheerleading events is based on a combination of difficulty and execution.
“You’ll have teams that don’t necessarily have difficult routines but execute them well and end up beating teams with harder-skilled routines,” Fleming said. “We’re really lucky to have all the girls on our teams executing the difficult-skill routines as close to perfect as we can get them.”
She added this was the first competitive cheerleading region championship for the school since 1996. Next up is next weekend’s sectionals and finals competitions at the Columbus Civic Center, and Dalton fastforwards to the finals due to winning the region title. The second- through fourth-place teams in each region compete at Friday’s sectionals, where the top eight in each classification advance to the 16-team finals competition. The event begins at 9 a.m. Saturday.
“It means a lot for these girls,” Fleming said of the region win. “We’ve made it to state seven years in a row, so this year to win the region is a huge accomplishment.”