8-AA champion JCCHS girls running at state Saturday
This past Thursday’s 8-AA meet was a confirmation of something long established during the regular season: Jackson County’s girls are the class of the region.
Led by Brittany Aikens’ second-place finish (20:37), Jackson County — ranked sixth in the most recent coaches’ association poll — won the Region 8-AA girls’ championship at Crow’s Lake with 61 points, 13 points better than second-place Jefferson which hosted the meet. The Lady Panthers run at state this Saturday in Carrollton.
“I feel really proud of the girls for running the way they did,” coach Joseph Brubaker said.
Jackson County certainly had expectations coming into the meet.
The Lady Panthers didn’t lose to a region foe during the entire regular season and didn’t want to start at the Region 8-AA meet.
“I think we would have been disappointed to have not won it considering what we’d seen all year,” Brubaker said.
Jackson County boasted three finishers in the top 10 and four in the top 15 to carry it to the victory at the 13-team event. Following Aikens was Rachel Pasko, who finished fourth overall with a 21:35; Sydney Baird, who took ninth with a 22:29; and Michayla Scollon, who placed 14th with a 23:05. Maddie Newton rounded out the Lady Panthers’ scoring with a 33rd place finish, running a 24:48.
Brubaker noted that Scollon and Newton ran despite battling some recent injuries.
Brubaker, whose team finished as runners-up two years in a row in 8-AAA, said this is the first region title Jackson County has captured “in a while.”
“That’s quite an accomplishment and something they can be proud of,” Brubaker said.
Now the season continues on an extra week.
Jackson County runs at 3 p.m. in Carrollton Saturday in the final meet of the day. Brubaker said that the strength in Class AA lies in Region 6-AA out of Atlanta with several teams in the top five. But he also points out that Region 8-AA boasts four teams in the bottom half of the top 10.
The ultimate goal is to finish in the top five in the state, but Brubaker said the team is just excited about the opportunity.
“It’s kind of fun to go over there and shoot to be in the mix,” Brubaker said.
As for the boys’ team, the Panthers’ season ended Thursday with a 12th place finish in 8-AA. J.T. Wood (19:31) led Jackson County with a 29th-place showing.
Rounding out Jackson County’s scoring were Jonathan Mayfield (55th, 20:28), Tyler Ledford (68th, 21:18), Brian Nunez (73rd, 21:23) and Dusty Haralson (80th, 21:36).
“I think we improved upon last year, which we needed to do,” Brubaker said. “I think we’ve turned the corner a little bit. Hopefully, we can improve next year.”