CARROLLTON — The Marietta girls cross country team defended its Class AAAAAAA state championship and won its fourth title in the last five years at the state meet at Carrollton High School on Saturday.
The Blue Devils fell just short of repeating its sweep of the boys and girls’ titles as the boys finished a close second to Mill Creek.
Whitefield Academy also brought home a state championship to Cobb County as it won the Class A Private boys’ title, while Harrison’s Samantha McGarity was the lone individual champion with her win the Class AAAAAAA race.
The Lady Blue Devils, with 107 points, edged out a couple of local and Region 3AAAAAAA rivals – runner-up Harrison (116) and third-place Hillgrove (128). Milton (197) also earned a spot on the awards podium with a fourth-place finish.
“What can you say, they really dug in and delivered,” Marietta coach Jack Coleman said. “We ran the way we wanted to run. I’m very, very proud of them.”
McGarity came out strong and never let up as she quickly pulled away from her competition and claimed her title with a time of 18 minutes, 39.48 seconds – finishing over 40 seconds ahead of runner-up Carmel Yonas of South Forsyth (19:20.71).
“I was going to try to stay with that top group for as long as I could and just hold on,” McGarity said. “But I had something in me today that was like a drive and I just got out there and after that first lap, I knew I had more in me and I knew I could just keep going.”
Other Cobb runners in the girls Class AAAAAAA top 10 were Hillgrove’s Reese Terza (seventh, 19:50.91), Marietta’s Kristal McQueen (ninth, 19:52.45) and Hillgrove’s Gabriela Orsonio (10th, 19:53.76).
The Marietta boys made a surprisingly strong run at a formidable Mill Creek team that was the heavy favorite. The Blue Devils, finished just two points behind with 104 points.
“The boys came in as pretty big underdogs and to give Mill Creek a run at it – it was an exceptional day by the boys,” Coleman said. “I felt that we ran a really good race – Mill Creek is just a very good team and they held us off.”
Harrison (182) just missed a spot on the awards podium with a fifth-place finish. Walton also finished in the top 10, finishing ninth (255).
James May led the surge for Marietta with a runner-up finish. The senior ran 16:09.41 to place behind champion Ethan Ashley of Denmark (15:46.78).
Marietta’s Jared Fortenberry finished seventh (16:36.91), while Harrison’s Andrew Cole was ninth (16:43.85).
It was a historic day for the Whitefield Academy boys as they won their first state championship in the program’s history.
Whitefield, with 60 points, finished far ahead of runner-up Holy Innocents’ (105). Paideia (127) placed third and Athens Academy (163) was fourth to join the Wolfpack on the awards podium.
“It is absolutely exciting for these boys,” Whitefield Academy coach Jesse Holthus said. “This is my first year coaching and I just kind of stepped in. Most of the credit coaching-wise goes to Kelly Rothwell, my assistant who trained them up. I’m super excited for these guys – they’ve worked really hard. Most of them have been in the program for many, many years and to see them reach the top, reach the goal – it’s very exciting. They love to run, they love to run together and it’s easy to coach them. They just do their work and they do it well. Everyone came out and performed today to the best of their ability and, thanks be to God, nobody got hurt, no one was sick and we got it done.”
The Wolfpack’s Peyton Golden was the Class A Private boys’ individual runner-up with a time of 16:26.42, finishing a close second behind champion Joe Sapone of Holy Innocents’ (16:22.25).
Whitefield had two other runners in the top 10 – sixth-place Taylor Wade (17:04.70) and ninth-place Andrew Rothwell (17:12.49).
Pope finished third in the Class AAAAAA girls’ team standings with 117 points to place behind champion North Atlanta (70) and runner-up Cambridge (72).
The Lady Greyhounds placed three runners in the top ten – fourth-place Lorel Golden (19:24.17), fifth-place Addison Adair (19:26.27) and sixth-place Charlotte Dunn (19:29.63).
Other Cobb teams finishing in the team top 10 were Allatoona (seventh, 223) and Lassiter (eighth, 228).
Kennesaw Mountain’s Ryan McKee led the way among Cobb runners in the Class AAAAAA boys’ race with a third-place finish and a time of 16:21.10, placing behind champion Nathan Solomon of Shiloh (15:55.97) and runner-up Bryson Gates of Creekview (15:56.24).
Pope’s Carter Spohn (ninth, 16:40.40) was the only other top 10 finisher.
Pope (seventh, 262) was the only team in the Class AAAAAA boys’ meet to finish in the top 10.
In the Class A Private girls’ race, North Cobb Christian’s Elizabeth Shaylor led the way among local runners with a fifth-place finish (20:26.26).
North Cobb Christian (ninth, 302) and Whitefield Academy (10th, 307) were the only local teams in the top 10.