Dalton’s boys used a pack mentality. North Murray’s Issac Pacheco easily stayed ahead of the pack.
The Catamounts edged Pickens to take the overall team title Thursday at the Region 7-4A cross country meet, Pacheco finished the Region 5-3A meet’s 5K course at Dellinger Park in Cartersville with a blistering time of 16 minutes, 41 seconds — he made sure the rest of the field was racing for second place — and seven area teams finished well enough to qualify for next week’s state meets in Carrollton.
Northwest Whitfield’s boys and girls, both teams from Coahulla Creek, the North Murray boys and Murray County’s boys all had team finishes that qualified them for their respective state meets on Nov. 10. In addition to Pacheco’s title-winning time, Northwest’s Brody and Parker Cook and Dalton’s Bekah Houston finished in the top six of their races. For Houston, that meant she was able to qualify as an individual, because only the top four teams from each region advance.
At the Region 7-4A meet at Roper Park in Jasper, three Dalton runners finished in the top nine and all five counting runners were in the top 20. The Cats took the team title by two slim points over host Pickens, winning 59-61. Northwest (74) was third, followed by River Ridge (81), which was paced by region champion Joe Mayes, who finished in 16:41.37.
Dalton coach Karen Galyon said the pack mentality paid off for the title.
“They ran hard and stayed together and did a great job,” Galyon said. “Not being spread out was the difference. Pickens, River Ridge and Northwest all had great overall races, but having that group finish as one helps out so much. When our entire team comes in at 21 minutes or less, that is a good day.”
Francisco Perez led the Cats with a seventh-place finish in 17:32. He was followed in back-to-back fashion by teammates Brandon Pineda (eighth, 17:37) and Anthony Hernandez (ninth, 17:40). Also scoring for Dalton were Trey Hurt (15th, 17:59) and Eduardo Loredo (20th, 18:09).
Northwest had an impressive finish with the Cook twins leading the way with Brody (17:18) and Parker (17:19) finishing fourth and fifth, respectively. Henson Gibbs (10th, 17:44), Lane Bramblett (25th, 18:26) and Dylan Richards (30th, 18:36) scored for the Bruins.
“It is an incredible group we have with the Cooks leading the way, and they were both in the top 10,” Northwest coach Tom Sell said. “Henson Gibbs is a freshman, and that is his first time breaking 18 minutes, so that was pretty amazing, and then Bramblett and Richards both set personal records. The boy’s race went near perfect for us.”
The Lady Bruins finished fourth overall to nab a spot at state as well. Heritage-Catoosa (31) took the title easily, followed by Pickens (55) and River Ridge (91). Northwest finished with 103.
Shelby Wilson was the top finisher for the Lady Bruins, running a 21:30 for 15th place. Others scoring for Northwest were Natalie Williams (16th, 21:31), Nancy Paz (19th, 21:56), Caroline Duffy (26th, 22:34) and Shelley Hendricks (27th, 22:39). This is the Northwest girls’ first trip to state since 2007, and Sell gave a lot of credit to the improvement of Hendricks, a senior who had “She has been around seventh for us most of the year but ... really stepped up,” Sell said.
“I’m so tickled for both teams,” the coach added.
Dalton’s girls finished fifth overall and will miss out on a trip to state, but Houston, a senior, finished fifth individually in a time of 19:58 and will be making her fourth straight trip to state. She made it as part of the team her freshman and sophomore years and has qualified individually two years in a row.
“I was very proud of the girls,” Galyon said. “They did exactly what I asked and sped up their times, but so did everyone else, and we just missed out on state.”
In addition to Houston, Ashley Parham (22nd, 22:24), Rosa Bibian (29th, 22:50), Elizabeth Queen (35th, 23:40) and Santa Ibarra (36th, 23:45) scored for Dalton.
Southeast Whitfield’s girls were eighth overall, led by Isabel Salinas at 30th with a time of 23:00. Other runners for the Lady Raiders were Ana Padilla (32nd, 23:30), Jessica Flores (44th, 24:24), Sandy Torres (48th, 25:25) and Alejandra Lerma (49th, 25:35).
The Raiders were eighth overall as well, paced by Marcos Arrendondo (29th, 18:35). Also finishing for Southeast were Enrique Ponce (33rd,18:42), Juan Ruiz (N/A,19:37), Roman Hurtado (N/A, 19:50) and Omar Ruiz (N/A,19:52).
At the Region 5-3A meet at Dellinger Park, Pacheco continued his dominance of the region and now turns his eyes to an elusive state crown.
The senior sprinted to the individual title in a time of 16:41, leading the Mountaineers to a fourth-place finish and the team’s first berth in the state tournament. Coahulla Creek’s boys finished second overall behind host Cartersville with Ringgold edging North Murray by a point to take third.
Pacheco, who has had individual success as one of the area’s top runners at a variety of distances, was as excited about his team’s success as his region title, his first. His time at this year’s region meet was nearly 40 seconds faster than his second-place finish in the Region 7-2A meet last year at Georgia Highlands College.
“I am like really happy,” Pacheco said. “Honestly, I didn’t think that we would go to state, but the rest of the team really surprised me. This will be the first time we have all gone to state and it is my last year, and I couldn’t be happier.”
Pacheco has raced at the state meet in Carrollton the past two seasons, but he has always been the lone representative of his school. He is also looking to improve on his state time of 17:53.06 from last year. On Thursday, he had no problems at all.
“The race started and I had some people following pretty close, but around mile 1, I had the lead pretty handily,” Pacheco said. “I had it by maybe 30 seconds, and by mile 2 I left the rest of the field behind me. I feel really comfortable with my run, and I have been working for this, and I was very confident that I would have another win.”
He was joined by teammates Jesus Cruz (18:48), Anthony Disantiago (19:36), Guillermo Cruz (19:55) and Chris Joaquin (20:53). Coach Matt Chambers did not have individual places.
“The boys are super excited,” Chambers said of the trip to state. “We were kind of waiting on pins and needles, but they were really excited.”
Overall in the team standings for the boys, Cartersville won with 36 points, followed by Coahulla Creek (51) and Ringgold.
All of the counting runners for the Colts finished in the top 15, earning the school its second straight trip to the state meet.
“The boys made a huge leap just from the last race to this one,” Coahulla Creek coach Ben Williams said. “It is kind of a great mix of camaraderie as well as competitiveness in that group of runners at the top. They are clumped together, but they are very competitive with each other and push each other all the time.”
J.V. Villareal led the way for the Colts with a seventh-place finish at 17:54. Also scoring for Coahulla Creek were Missael Fraire (ninth, 18:06), Caleb Carlson (10th, 18:12), Sadoth Fraire (12th, 18:30) and Blake Phillips (13th, 18:33).
Coahulla Creek’s girls earned their first trip to Carrollton, finishing third with 86 points behind region champions Cartersville (38) and Gordon Central (63). Ringgold was fourth.
Bethany Goodwin was sixth overall to lead the Lady Colts, finishing in 22:05. Also scoring were Hayley Hight (eighth, 22:31), Evelyn Botello (19th, 24:07), Elizabeth Trejo (20th, 24:22) and Gisel Maldonado (32nd, 26:37).
“We are absolutely stoked,” Williams said of the girls earning a trip to state. “We have been having a lot of time goals that we have reached to help boys and girls to get to state this year. We have planted the seed in their head that they could qualify for state, and the girls delivered.”
North Murray’s girls had just four runners and couldn’t qualify for state as a team. They were led by Jessenia Gasper (25:38), who was followed by Gabrielle Vicente (26:16), Daisy Hernandez (29:10) and Jennifer Sanchez (32:46).
At the Region 7-2A meet at Georgia Highlands College in Rome, Murray County’s boys all finished in the top 15 as the Indians took second in a hotly contested race.
Model (42) finished as the region champions, while the Indians finished a point ahead of Pepperell (59) with Dade County (108) fourth.
This is the Indians’ first trip to the state meet since 2007.
Servio Martinez was sixth overall to lead the team with a time of 18:12. He was followed by senior Martin Conteras, who was 11th overall at 18:45.
“Martin had been running as an alternate most of the season, and he ran as our No. 2 runner today,” Murray County coach Sam young said. “He wanted it bad. You talk about someone laying it all on the line, and that is exactly what he did today. He gave it everything he had.”
Also scoring for the Indians were Ivan Delgado (12th, 18:51), Jose Ruiz (14th, 19:03) and Filiberto Munez (15th, 19:04).
“We were second and I am proud and tickled and ready to go to Carrollton and see if we can score a little better there,” Young said. “We have one senior on that varsity boys team, so this should put a bit of fire in the belly of those kids returning for next year.”
For the Lady Indians, senior Nayeli Jacobo was the lone competitor, finishing ninth overall with a time of 22:29.
Morris Innovative’s results were not reported.