The 6A 2017 state championship girls' and boys' cross country teams opened their season by bringing home all four first place trophies in the varsity and junior varsity races Saturday, August 25, at the Bob Blastow Early Bird Invitational. Jack Filan ('19) and Ashley Sechrest ('20) led the varsity teams with second place finishes against two of the top runners in the state. Adam Schaich ('20) and Delaney Goodell ('19) won their junior varsity races to help those teams to victory. In the open races, newcomer to the team, Will Carrow ('20), won the boys' race in his first cross country meet to lead the boys to a second place finish, and freshmen Lannah Johnson finished in 9th place, as the open race girls finished in third place overall.
The team met at the school at a very early 5am to head down to McIntosh Nature Preserve for this annual first meet of the season, with the boys varsity race scheduled to start at 8am. Jack Filan took an early lead, and at the first mile marker, was just ahead of a tight follow pack of three. He maintained the lead for all but the last 400 meters, when he was overtaken by the top 5k runner in the state. Jack's finish in 15:22 broke his previous school record by 4 seconds, and improved on his time from this meet last year by 31 seconds. It is also currently the second fastest time in Georgia just two weeks into the season. Helping the Cambridge team capture the first place trophy against 5A state champs, McIntosh, and 7A state champs, Milton, were Carson Ertwine ('19) in 12th, Anders Law ('20) in 13th, Lyle Donovan ('22) in 16th, and Josh Gargan ('20) in 21st place. Team scores are determined by adding up the place each runner earned, and the lowest score being declared the winner. This was the first time Cambridge has beaten Milton at a Cross Country meet, edging them out by 5 points.
The girls varsity race was second on Saturday morning, and the Lady Bears had their work cut out for them against 5A state champions, McIntosh, and 7A state podium finishers Milton. First place finisher Nyah Hernandez, previously from Creekview and now running for Milton, took an early lead, but the Bears' Ashley Sechrest didn't let her widen the gap after the first mile and finished in second place with a time of 18:42. This bested her school record by 30 seconds and her time at this meet last year by 41 seconds. It was also the fourth fastest time run across the state by Georgia runners so far this season. Close behind Ashley, and edged out at the finish line by less than half a second, senior Grace Gerlach finished in fourth place with a time of 18:48. After an injury last fall, a sub-19 minute 5K to start this season from Grace should help the defending 6A state champs in their quest to repeat. Afton Hirschi ('20) ran a personal best time by over half a minute, with a 19:16 finish for 11th place, followed by Izzy Filipek ('21) in 19:41 for 14th, also a personal record. Newcomer Lola Merrill ('21), in her first race for Cambridge, placed 19th to secure the Lady Bears' first victory of the season.
The Cambridge boys dominated the junior varsity race, with a pack of four runners taking the lead early on and maintaining it to the finish line. Junior Adam Schaich left the pack of runners in the second lap to take first place with a 17:39 finish, besting his previous personal record by just under 30 seconds. Deacon Law ('20), Yahya Merchant ('20) and Cole Suplee ('21) captured 2nd through 4th place, and freshmen Alex Tebeau was edged out by a couple runners to finish 7th. Their team score of 17 was incredible, and Justin Doering ('21) and Colby Jones ('21) also medaled even if not contributing to the score, placing 13th and 14th.
Senior Delaney Goodell led the junior varsity girls to their first place finish, taking a commanding lead from the start, and finishing 50 seconds ahead of second place. The amount of time between places doesn't matter in scoring though, so performances by the next four Cambridge girls was critical to the team win. Maggie Morgan ('19) and Katie Malone ('22) finished neck and neck, with experience having the edge, for 7th and 8th place, followed just four seconds later by freshmen Faith Hirschi in 10th. Emma Flynn ('21) set a personal record, finishing just out of medal contention in 17th, to cement the first place trophy for the JV girls.
The fifth and final race of the day was a mixed race, with the remaining boys and girls on the team competing together. Newcomer to cross country, Will Carrow ('20), found his stride to beat the field of 193 boys and finish in first place. A great way to start his cross country career! Returning runner Kaine Dudley ('21) finished in fourth, with newcomer Caelan Jones taking home a medal as well with his 14th place finish. The team managed to get second place in the open race, with the final two scoring runners being Braden Hobbs ('22) and Ashton Foraker ('22), both in the top 20. On the girls side for this race, freshmen Lannah Johnson medaled with her 9th place finish, followed by fellow classmate Kyra Gould in 24th, juniors Allie Maloney and Lily Parzych in 37th and 38th, and Kate Tweedy in 48th out of 156 runners for a team score that earned them third place.
The Cross Country team will take Labor Day weekend off from racing, and will compete next at Roswell High School's Covered Bridge Run on September 8.