The cross country team made the short ride to Webb Bridge Park for the 2019 6A Region 7 meet on Tuesday, October 22, which was bittersweet for some as it ends their season, and just the next step to state for both the girls' and boys' varsity teams.The Bears came away with first place honors in five of six races, and were runner-up in the sixth. Additionally, there were four individual race winners leading their teammates to victory
At 7am conditions looked a bit troubling with rain coming down, but by 11am when the starter gun set off the first group of open runners, the sun was out and temperatures were perfect for a 5k race. The course at Webb Bridge is mostly gravel, so it was just the start and end of the race that got muddier and more slippery as the day progressed. Davis Bartels('21), with Cooper Carrow ('20) right behind him, started out leading the Bears in this race through the first mile, with a tight pack of Matthew DiPietro('21), George Tindle('22), and Reese Uribe('22) not far behind, and Luis Fettes('23) and William Floyd('22) just seconds later. These seven would hold on to be the top 7 finishers overall, with Matthew crossing the line for first place, followed by George, Davis, Reese, Cooper, Luis and William. Their perfect score of 15 (adding up the place for each of the first five runners), gave them the win over second place Pope with 51 points. Also finishing in the top 20 were Ashton Foraker('22) in 11th, Matthew McHugh('20) in 14th with a personal best and breaking 20 minutes, Jack Ritter('20) in 15th, Noah Prevallet ('22) in 18th, Ethan Danciak ('20) in 19th, and Ian Kababik ('21) in 20th. This was a co-ed race, and for the Lady Bears, they scored 30 points to win over Pope's 33 points. Freshman Ava Sanchez led most of the way, with Larkin Wynn ('22) not far behind. Larkin edged her out in the finish chute for second place with a personal best time breaking 24 minutes for the first time, with Ava taking third less than two seconds later. Kyra Gould('22) and Olivia Sanford('20) finished in 6th and 7th and Summer Merrill('23) finished in 12th to round out the scoring and secure the win.
The second starter gun for the day initiated the girls' JV race. Katie Malone ('22), Afton Hirschi ('20) and captain Leah Capomaccio ('20) held on to positions one, two and three throughout the race to help the Lady Bears secure their third team victory of the day with 26 points over second place Johns Creek at 75 points. Seven of the twelve runners finished in the top 20. Behind the lead pack, were Faith Hirschi ('22) in 8th, captain Lily Parzych ('20) in 12th, Irene Palacios-Rodriguez ('23) with a personal best by 47 seconds right at 23 minutes in 16th, and Sarah Anderson ('20) in 19th.
The boys' JV race was up next, and the Bears once again beat the other teams in Region 7 with a resounding 17 points, to Pope's second place 69 points. Sophomore Lyle Donovan was back from nursing an injury, and easily took and kept the lead throughout the race, finishing 15 seconds ahead of teammate Will Carrow ('20) who finished in 2nd place. Caelan Jones ('21) and Oscar Ng('21) crossed the finish in 3rd and 4th, and Braden Hobbs('22) closed out the scoring in 7th, with Alex Tebeau('22) two seconds behind him in 8th. The JV boys had five more runners in the top 20. Neck and neck to the finish were senior Ethan Blalock in 12th and junior Boston Grant in 13th, finishing a half second apart, with Ajai Singh('22) another second behind in 14th. Justin Doering ('21) finished in 16th, and Colin Shin ('20) was in 19th.
The final races of the day were the varsity races, to determine the four teams that will represent region 7 at the state meet on November 1. The girls' race started at 1:05, and just like in the previous races, the Lady Bears held tight in a competitive field to bring home first place region honors and secure their trip to state. From before the mile mark, captain Ashley Sechrest('20) and freshman Anna Filipek were in first and second, with a tight pack of Lola Merrill('21), Kathryn Suplee('21) and Izzy Filipek('21) not too far behind, and Emily Meeker('22) and Camilla Montes('22) just seconds later. Running her third region meet on this course, Ashley widened the lead and finished in first by 32 seconds for her third individual region champion title in cross country. Anna, with her first race at Webb Bridge, held on for fourth place to help keep the Bears' team score low. Lola, Kat and Izzy finished in 12th, 13th, and 15th to secure the win, and Camila finished in 17th. The Lady Bears score of 45 bested 2nd place Johns Creek, who had 59 points, and 3rd place Pope (who edged them out of the region title last fall) with 74 points.
The varsity boys would have a more difficult race, but the Bears held on for runner-up honors, with a new focus and solid determination for the state meet next week. Leading the Bears, as he has done most of the season, was captain Anders Law ('20). Anders held steady in the top 7 throughout the race, and finished in 5th overall, 17 seconds behind the leader. Fellow captain Josh Gargan('20) finished in 12th place, followed by Adam Schaich('20) in 14th to earn the last spot on the all-region 2nd team. Just out of the top 20 was captain Deacon Law ('20) in 21st, with Colby Jones ('21) in 24th and Kaine Dudley in 26. Rounding out the seven runners was Cole Suplee ('21) in 29th. The Bears had all seven runners finish before Pope's 5th runner, but it wasn't enough to overcome Pope having first through third place, and they finished with 76 points compared to the 49 points for first.
With both teams qualified for state, 24 runners will be headed to the state meet in Carrollton on the morning of November 1. Seven runners will represent each team, with alternates available in the event of illness or injury and to cheer them on. Both teams are hoping to be up on the podium at state, with the Lady Bears defending their state title, and we wish them all the best of luck in Carrollton!