By Doug Hawley
Northwest Whitfield High School cross country coach Tom Sell may have found the winning formula Tuesday night in the school’s first Bruin Invitational at Edwards Park.
“I was so concerned about the meet as the director that I basically ignored my teams,” Sell said. “That might be the key. Look what happened. They really stepped it up.”
What happened was Northwest swept both the varsity boys’ and girls’ action.
Northwest’s boys finished with 45 points and Coahulla Creek and Murray County had identical scores of 55.
However, Coahulla Creek claimed second due to a sixth-man tiebreaker.
The rest of the field, in order of finish, were Dalton (108), Southeast Whitfield (152), Gordon Lee (232), North Murray (233), LaFayette (234), Christian Heritage (239), Trion (252) and Ringgold (265).
The Lady Bruins emerged as champions by scoring 72 points.
Following Northwest were Coahulla Creek (91), Trion (92), Southeast (96), Dalton (98), Murray County (173), Gordon Lee (198), North Murray (205), LaFayette (226) and Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (263).
“In the past, we have had a meet here each year at Edwards Park, but we only had four or five teams,” Sell said. “This is the first time that we’ve given awards. We had a lot more teams.”
Awards went to the top three teams and top 15 finishers.
On the rugged 5-kilometer course, Murray County’s Katlyn Richardson claimed top honors in 24 minutes, 42 seconds against a field of 69 for the girls. Coahulla Creek’s Morgan King was second in 25:23.
“I’m enjoying my first year in cross country,” Richardson said. “I hope that it will make me better for track where I primarily run the 1,600-meter race. These hills are pretty tough.”
Rounding out the top 15 were: Jen Rivera, Northwest, 25:31; Katie Shelly, LFO, 25:37; Sarah Meadows, Gordon Lee, 25:39; Isabel Salinas, Southeast, 25:49; Jenna Chance, Trion, 26:01; Ana Podilla, Southeast, 26:08; Bethany Goodwin, Coahulla Creek, 26:31; Caroline Duffy, Northwest, 26:39; Santa Ibarra, Dalton, 26:56; Katrie Smith, Ringgold, 27:06; Bitia Paz, Dalton, 27:16; Rachel Cherry, Coahulla Creek, 27:22; and Jessica Flores, Southeast, 27:24.
Dylan Smith of Gordon Lee edged Coahulla Creek’s Sadoth Fraire to take top honors in the boys field of 81 as both clocked 19:22. But Smith’s kick down the stretch allowed him to overtake Fraire with the two stride for stride at the finish line.
“I got the lead just before the finish line,” said Smith, a senior. “It’s certainly one of the hardest courses that we’ve run all year.”
Other awards recipients included: Walt Douglas, Coahulla Creek, 19:31; Henson Giles, Northwest, 20:02; Lane Bramblett, Northwest, 20:12; Antonio Martinez, Murray, 20:18; Ivan Delgado, Murray, 20:20; Dylan Richards, Northwest, 20:21; Eduardo Loredo, Dalton, 20:25; Missael Fraire, Coahulla Creek, 20:36; Luis Perez, Southeast, 20:43; Servio Martinez, Murray, 20:49; Luke Stevens, Northwest; Jose Ruiz, Murray, and Kyle Roberts, Northwest, both 21:13.