THE JEFFERSON girls showed why they were a preseason top 10 in Class AA, winning the varsity race at Saturday’s Northeast Georgia Cross Country Championships at Athens Christian. Meanwhile, Jackson County’s girls finished 10th in the more elite championship race.
Jefferson, ranked seventh in Class AA, averaged a 23:00 in the varsity race, while Jackson County’s girls, ranked ninth in Class AA, ran an average time of 23:05 in the championship race.
The Jefferson duo of Reese Bowles and Morgan Mitchell paced the Lady Dragons in the varsity competition. Bowles ran a 22:07.47 to place sixth, a mere 51 hundredths of a second faster than Mitchell, who finished seventh-place.
In fact, six of Jefferson’s runners finished in the top 26 to propel the Lady Dragons to the top spot.
Following Bowles and Mitchell were Sasha Parker (11th, 22:43), Kaylynn Rainey (17th, 23:57), Olivia Yates (19th, 24:04) and Kelsey Reschly (26th, 24:20).
Reschly’s 26th-place finish broke a first-place deadlock with Chestatee to give Jefferson the win.
Others running for Jefferson’s girls were Emily Mendoza (62nd, 26:16), Ansleigh Potts (82nd, 27:00), Taylor Lee (109th, 29:04) and Monica Pizano (138th, 33:31).
“It was a great race with lots of tough competition,” Jefferson coach Katie Sellers said.
In the championship race, Jackson County’s Sydney Baird led the Lady Panthers with a time of 21:19 to finish 24th. The next closest was Maddie Newton who ran a 22:45 to place 56th. Also providing points were Monica Jimenez (73rd, 23:23), Allison Freeman (83rd, 23:42) and Michayla Scollon (92nd, 24:06). Others running were Kourtney Axelberg (104th, 25:03) and Savannah Shaw (108th, 25:17).
Jackson County’s boys also ran in championship competition instead of the varsity race and finished 18th out of 21 teams. The Panthers averaged a time of 20:02.
J.T. Wood led Jackson County with an 18:50 to finish 68th, followed by Dusty Haralson (112th, 19:56), Anthony Allen (122nd, 20:08), Trevin Sweat (135th, 20:34) and Zack Sears (138th, 20:42). Others running were Tyler Manculich (146th, 20:57), Bryce Hughes (150th, 21:01) and Jacob Dearman (180th, 22:32).
“I was pleased with our opening weekend,” Jackson County boys’ coach Joseph Brubaker said of both his teams. “Our boys should be encouraged by their performance. We hope to continue to see improvement. It is the best start to a season I think we have ever had at Jackson County. I plan to really push us through September and I think they will stay hungry.”
Brubaker pointed out that all returning Jackson County boys runners ran over a minute faster than they did at last year’s championships.
He said his girls team ran well too.
“They will have to work harder to see improvement at this point in their veteran careers,” he said. “The new runners all preformed well too. I am excited about how many new runners ran well. Both teams need leaders to step up in September as the season can become a grind.”
The Jefferson boys — who came in ranked fourth in Class AA — ran in the varsity race, finishing 13th out of 26 schools.
Cain Lorenzo paced Jefferson with a 19:33 to finish 49th. Rounding out the scoring were Josh Reid (66th, 20:08), Jonathan Ray (82nd, 20:31), Will Breese (95th, 20:51) and Zach Parrish (111th, 21:14). Others running were Chandler Stephenson (119th, 21:29), Andrew Ocock (147th, 21:58), Bruce Logue (153rd, 22:12) and Justin Harrison (154th, 22:18).
Jefferson moves on to the Spartan Ekiden at Athens Academy Thursday.
Jackson County doesn’t run again until Sept. 8 at the Mountain Invitational at North Georgia Technical Collee. Jefferson will also run in that event.