THE JEFFERSON girls’ cross country team left little doubt regarding its region dominance.
With four placers in the top five and a five overall in the top 10, Jefferson coasted to the region title — and clinched a spot in the state meet — Thursday at Oglethorpe County. The Jefferson boys also finished in the top four as a team in their race, qualifying for state.
Reese Bowles led Jefferson with a second-place finish, running a 20:47, for the Lady Dragons who will compete in the Class AA meet in Carrollton this Saturday.
“It wasn’t my goal but it was pretty close,” said Bowles, who had hoped to break 20 minutes at region.
Bowles finished 1:25 behind Union County’s Emma Garrison.
“I wanted to beat her but she’s pretty good,” she said.
Following Bowles with third through fifth-place finishes were Morgan Mitchell (21:29), Olivia Yates (21:22) and Sasha Parker (21:35). Kaylynn Rainey also enjoyed a top 10 finish, running a 22:38 to place ninth.
Kesley Reschly also ran, finishing with a 23:58 (15th overall).
This is the first region cross country title in recent years for the Jefferson girls.
“It was a great feeling just because they’ve worked so hard,” coach Katie Sellers said.
Sellers said the team has “finally learned how to pack.”
“They’ve realized that’s what makes a win a win,” she said.
Bowles, Mitchell, Yates and Parker were named all-region.
Sellers said the goal now is to “get on the podium” at state, an honor which goes to the top four teams.
Bowles would like to do a little better than that.
“We want to come in third,” she said. “That’s where we’re ranked right now, so hopefully we’ll get it.”
Six Region 8-AA girls’ teams competed at the event. Following Jefferson (23 points) were Union County (38), Rabun County (79 points), Oglethorpe County (99 points), Social Circle (127) and Washington-Wilkes (144).
On the boys’ side, Cain Lorenzo finished seventh overall (18:27) to lead the Dragons back to state.
Lorenzo won’t run with the team at state Saturday in Carrollton as a nagging season-long injury will force him out of the Class AA meet.
Sellers said the sophomore runner will be missed.
“I’m sad for him and I told him, ‘you have taken the team this far and I wish you could just take it on to the end,’” Sellers said.
Lorenzo was followed by Jonathan Ray (19:01), Josh Reid (19:05), Andrew Ocock (19:14) and Pate Sheppard (19:17). Others running were Will Breese (19:19) and Jared Brown (19:22).
Jefferson (91 points) beat out fifth-place Greene County 33 points for the fourth and final spot out of Region 8-AA for the state meet.
Eight Region 8-AA schools participated in the event. Riverside Military won the region with 45 points. They were followed by Oglethorpe County (59) and Union County (74). Finishing behind Jefferson were Greene County (124), Rabun County (150), Social Circle (152) and Washington-Wilkes (250).
Sellers said she’s proud of both squads making it back to state.
“Both teams have had exceptional seasons, especially since I consider both teams to be young,” Sellers said. “We are only losing one senior boy, and will be gaining some great upcoming eighth graders that have spent the rest of their middle school season running with our JV.”