Edward Blaha

Pace Academy’s Edward Blaha won his second consecutive Class AA individual state championship to lead the Knights to the AA team title at the state cross country championships in Carrollton Nov. 5

Westminster and Pace Academy led the way among local teams as they won both the boys’ and girls’ team championships in Class AAA and Class AA respectively at the Georgia High School Association state cross country championships in Carrollton Nov. 5 and 6.

The two Northside powerhouses were among a large group of local squads that won girls state titles in their classifications, including North Atlanta (AAAAAA), St. Pius X (AAAAA), Marist (AAAA) and Wesleyan (A Private).

Individual girls’ champions included Westminster’s Palmer Walstad (AAA), Pace’s Caroline Hood (AA), Atlanta International’s Cara Joyce (A Private), St. Pius’ Grace Von Biberstein (AAAAA) and Marist’s Ruby Little (AAAA).

Whitefield Academy (A Private) also won a boys’ state team championship, while Westminster’s Matthew Fernando (AAA), Pace’s Edward Blaha (AA) and Holy Innocents’ Joe Sapone (A Private) were boys’ individual champions.

Westminster thoroughly dominated the field in the AAA boys’ competition with 19 points, finishing far ahead of runner-up Greater Atlanta Christian (126) to claim fifth consecutive state title and 29th overall.

Fernando won the AAA boys’ individual title with a time of 15 minutes, 59.06, with teammates Joseph Jacquot (fourth, 17:01.53), Jack Ramsey (fifth, 17:05.68) and Noah Chen (sixth, 17:19.32) also finishing in the top ten for the Wildcats.

The Westminster girls won by a somewhat slimmer margin than their male counterparts, scoring 43 points to finish ahead of runner-up Savannah Arts Academy (61) to win the AAA girls team title. It’s the ninth state crown in a row and 34th overall for the Wildcats.

Walstad won the AAA girls’ individual race with a time of 19:22.64, finishing just ahead of teammate and runner-up Janie Cooper (19:55.57).

Northside rivals Pace Academy and Lovett were the top two teams in both the AA boys’ and girls’ competitions.

Pace, with 28 points, won in convincing fashion over runner-up Lovett (76) to win the AA boys championship – its first state title since 1994 and sixth overall. Edward Blaha was the individual winner at 16:09.62 to claim his second straight AA state title.

Blaha was among five Knights to finish in the top 10 – with George Blaha finishing fourth (16:46.71), Grant Thompson sixth (16:55.25), Robert Mallis eighth (17:15.24) and Matthew Wells ninth (17:18.20).

Hunt Shurling was the lone Lovett runner in the boys’ top 10, finishing fifth (16:55.13).

Pace was equally dominant in the AA girls’ race, scoring 27 points to win by a convincing margin over runner-up Lovett (61) to clinch its second straight state title and 13th overall.

Hood won the girls’ individual crown with a time of 19:09.32, finishing ahead of teammate Laura Arenth (19:38.94).

Two other Pace runners were in the AA girls’ top ten – Kate Jones (fifth, 20:05.46) and Jordan White (seventh, 20:35.89) – and were joined by Lovett runners Mary Parrish Green (third, 19:47.06), Abby Newton (eighth, 20:39.56) and Ellie Wildman (ninth, 20:49.56).

Marist – in addition to winning the AAAA girls’ team championship — also finished runner-up in the AAAA boys race.

With 17 points, Marist finished by a wide margin ahead of runner-up Jefferson (101) to win the AAAA crown – the second girls state title in a row, the 12th in 13 years and 21st overall for the War Eagles.

Little crossed the finish line in 18:54.24 to win the AAAA girls individual title.

The Marist sophomore led a War Eagle sweep of the top four AAAA girls’ individual places, with Johna Grisik finishing second (19:40.66), Nicole Rizzo third (19:45.21) and Kate Selover fourth (19:49.33), with War Eagle runner Maeve Wittell placing seventh (20:32.60)

In the AAAA boys’ competition, Marist (38) finished slightly behind champion Chestatee (38) to take runner-up honors.

Three Marist runners placed in the AAAA boys’ individual top ten – Tommy Latham (third, 16:50.26), Caden Strickland (sixth, 17:00.03) and Everett Markwalter (ninth, 17:15.93).

In the AAAAAA girls’ competition, North Atlanta — with a total of 70 points — edged out runner-up Cambridge (72) to win the first state cross country championship in school history. Riverwood (203) was fifth.

North Atlanta runners Clara Heppner (19:05.96) and Catherine Townsend (19:07.36) finished second and third respectively behind champion Simone Rojas of Evans (18:56.33), with teammate Heidi Heppner (20:04.10) placing 10th. Riverwood’s Alexa Hoppenfeld (19:51.54) was eighth.

The Warriors also placed third in the AAAAAA boys’ team standings, scoring 208 points to place behind champion Richmond Hill (106) and runner-up Alexander (168).

Whitefield Academy won the Class A Private boys’ team championship with 60 points to outlast runner-up Holy Innocents (106) and win the first state cross country title in school history. Wesleyan (178) was fifth and Galloway (327) 10th.

Sapone won the A Private boys’ individual crown, running 16:22.25 to place ahead of runner-up Peyton Golden of Whitefield (16:26.42).

Whitefield runners Taylor Wade (sixth, 17:04.70) and Andrew Rothwell (ninth, 17:12.49) as well as Wesleyan’s Stafford McDaniel (seventh, 17:06.25) also placed in the boys’ A Private individual top ten.

In the A Private girls’ race, Wesleyan (96) won the team championship – the second in a row and sixth overall for the Wolves, who finished well ahead of runner-up Landmark Christian (122). Holy Innocents’ (154) placed fourth, while Mount Vernon (292) was eighth and Whitefield (307) 10th.

Joyce won the A Private girls’ individual championship with a time of 19:18.89 after finishing runner-up the previous two years.

Holy Innocents’ Tatum McKinnis (10th, 20:41.26) also placed in the A Private girls’ top 10.

In AAAAA, St. Pius X won the girls’ championship and placed runner-up among the boys. St. Pius, with 36 points, finished far ahead of runner-up Blessed Trinity (81) to win its third straight girls’ team title and sixth overall. Woodward Academy (404) was 13th. Von Biberstein won the AAAAA girls’ individual title with a time of 18:56.64.

Three other St. Pius girls placed in the top ten – Hannah Schemmel (third, 19:24.83), Margot Humphrey (sixth, 19:35.86) and Jessica Sheehan (seventh, 19:48.08) – while North Springs’ Lotte Chappell finished ninth (20:01.04).

Meanwhile, St. Pius (77) finished runner-up in the AAAAA boys’ race behind champion Decatur (46), with Woodward placing 11th (340).

Three St. Pius runners finished in the AAAAA boys’ top ten individually – Ryan Boyle (sixth, 16:44.50), Nicolas Moore (eighth, 16:48.72) and Brian Knoth (10th, 16:52,89).


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