Jackson County cross country coach Joseph Brubaker had hoped for a top-five finish in the state out of his girls’ team. The Lady Panthers delivered that and a little bit more, placing fourth in Class AA Saturday in Carrollton with 127 points.
Brubaker couldn’t have scripted it better.
“Everything went according to plan,” he said. “The girls ran very hard. It’s good to see hard work payoff at that level.”
Jackson County finished behind a trio of Atlanta-area private schools — state champion Westminster (33), Blessed Trinity (44) and Lovett (115).
Just like the regular season, Brittany Aikens led the Lady Panthers. The senior posted a 19:52 to place sixth in Class AA in her final high school race.
Jackson County’s no. 2 runner, Rachel Pasko, nearly earned a top 10 finish, placing 11th with a 20:25. Rounding out the scoring were Sydney Baird (25th, 21:22), Michayla Scollon (34th, 21:58) and Maddie Newton (59th, 23:00).
Three runners ran season-best races — Aikens, Baird and Scollon. Baird and Scollon’s times were personal-bests.
By finishing in the top 10, Aikens earned a spot on the Class AA all-state team.
Aikens, Pasko, Baird and Scollon were all-region selections.
As for next year, Jackson County will have to add more depth, Brubaker said. The recent success of the program the past three years – two runner-up finishes in 8-AAA, an 8-AA title and a fourth-place in Class AA – could potentially attract more runners to the team though.
“You’d like to think so,” Brubaker said, noting that some potential runners may be emerging from the middle school ranks.
But Brubaker doesn’t have any predictions for 2011, when his team will defend its region title.
“We have some strong teams in this region … I’m just going to see how next year plays out.”