Now, as it enters Year 4, the Buccaneers’ boys and girls programs both appear ready to challenge for top-four finishes at the state and spots on the podium.
Allatoona took the first step towards achieving a higher level in the state hierarchy when it swept the boys and girls team titles in the lower-classification (Class A-AAA) races last Saturday in the Berry Invitational at Berry College in Rome.
Winning what is considered to be the most prominent regular-season meet of the cross country season is the latest milestone for an Allatoona program that has made rapid gains in its short existence.
Coach Dave Ravenscraft, who arrived from Kennesaw Mountain to start the new school’s cross country program in 2008, is amazed by the rapid development of his program.
“We have come a long way as a program,” Ravenscraft said. “We started out (three years ago) as basically a JV team with 28-30 kids that first year. Now, we have grown to 60-plus kids. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that have contributed to our success, with the coaches and parents giving the kids a chance to develop their talent and be the best they can be.”
The Allatoona girls have moved up to the No. 1 ranking in the state among the Class AAA girls teams in the latest gatfxc.com poll, while the boys are fifth among the AAA boys.
After starting out in 2008 with ninth- and 10th-place finishes in the Region 7AAAA meet by the girls and boys teams, respectively, Allatoona has taken a big leap forward since.
In 2009, both the girls and boys teams were runners-up in 7AAAA, with the girls finishing sixth and the boys — led by Henry Stevens-Carty — placing ninth at the Class AAAA state meet.
The 2010 season was even better for Allatoona as both the girls and boys won their respective team titles in Region 7AAA and proceeded to finish sixth (girls) and eighth (boys) in Class AAA.
Now, in 2011, Allatoona appears to be more talented and deeper than ever, according to Ravenscraft.
“We have a good mix of seniors who have been with the program since the beginning, along with some talented juniors and sophomores and some promising freshmen,” Ravenscraft said.
Junior Emily Dunn is the top runner for the Allatoona girls, leading the Lady Buccaneers at the Berry Invitational with a sixth-place finish and a time of 20 minutes, 39 seconds.
Dunn finished fifth at the Region 7AAA meet last year with a personal-best time of 20:11 and was the Lady Buccaneers’ top performer at the state meet with a 54th-place finish (21:59.96).
“Emily is a tough competitor,” Ravenscraft said. “She puts in 300 to 350 miles of training during the summer, so she’s a hard worker. When we race, for her, it’s going to be the best race ever.”
Dunn leads a deep lineup that includes freshmen Meagan Hobbs and Kaleigh Leavell, junior Lindsay Ravenscraft and senior Natalie Buckshaw, each of whom finished in the top 20 individually at Berry.
The Lady Buccaneers also feature juniors Caitlin Hobbs, Jessalyn Ford and Jessica Brown.
Leading the boys is Corbin Williams, who was an eighth-place finisher at Berry with a time of 17:31. Last year, Williams was the runner-up in the Region 7AAA meet with a personal-best time of 16:44 and proceeded to finish 23rd at 17:23.23 at the state meet.
“Corbin has been with me for four years,” Ravenscraft said. “He finished second to Carty at region a couple of years ago, and finished second at region again last year, and I expect him to do more of the same. He’s a strong competitor. He might struggle with his training, but, when he races, he can shift gears and take himself to a higher level.”
Williams leads a deep boys squad that includes junior Aaron Scherf and seniors Christian Reeves, Thomas Decarreau, Boyd Wilson and Jordan Simon and freshman Matt Stanley.
Allatoona repeated its success from Berry on Wednesday, sweeping the boys and girls team titles at the Dallas Classic in Paulding County.
While Ravenscraft is optimistic about his teams both challenging for top-four finishes at the state meet in November, he said they first need to win at the Region 7AAA meet.
“If we have a goal, it is for our boys and girls to be in a position to get one of the top four spots at state in Class AAA,” Ravenscraft said. “The biggest thing for us, though, is the region meet. In order for us to have the momentum to challenge for a top-four spot at state, we have to win region. Second place won’t do it for us. We have the potential to do that, but we still have a long way to go.”