Posted: Saturday, November 9th 2013 at 2:49pm
STATE CHAMPS: Branch boys run way to AAAAA title; North Hall boys 2nd in AAA
By Jeff Hart and Morgan Lee
North Hall's Bryce Schuebert finished eighth Saturday in Class AAA boys state cross country meet in Carrollton. The trojans finished second overall to St. Pius.
CARROLLTON –- Four titles in six years sure has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?
The Flowery Branch boys cross country team sure thinks so, and the Falcons laid claim to being the latest area dynasty on Saturday when they claimed the Class AAAAA championship at the state meet in Carrollton.
Flowery Branch blew past runner-up Clarkston, placing three runners in the top 11 and five in the top 35.
"It was a relief, really," Falcons coach Jimmy Sorrells said. "We've been ranked No. 1 for most of the year, and we just wanted to go out there and give it our best. I couldn't be more proud of the guys."
Nicholas Ashmead paced the Falcons, finishing eighth individually in 16 minutes, 55 seconds, while teammates Miguel Martinez was 10th (16:58) and Brian Young 11th (17:02).
The times were also notable for who did not cross the finish line, as standout Jake Shewbert was bumped off course early in a tight turn and could not recover. Shewbert eventually crossed the finish line -- but the collision was a gut check moment for the Falcons.
"That shows the character of our guys that they knew one of our best guys was out and still kept their composure," Sorrells said. "I didn't even know he was out until late in the race. But kudos to Jake, he got up and finished the race."
The showing netted another championship for the Falcons and their first in Class AAAAA after claiming Class AAA crowns in 2008 and ’09 and a Class AAAA title in 2011.
"We're just blessed -- I don't know about dynasties; I don't like labels. We just work hard and take it one year at a time," Sorrells said. "I have great support from our parents, athletes and my wife. ... We're just a blue-collar team with a great work ethic, and that makes the difference."
It capped a strong day for the area's boys cross country winners in Carrollton.
In Class AAA, North Hall placed five runners in the top 13 but it still was not enough to knock off St. Pius.
Quintin Miles finished third overall for North Hall (16:44) and Bryce Schuebert (16:51) was eighth for the Trojans. But the Lions, paced by race-winner and favorite Austin Sprague, placed five runners in the top nine to finish with just 26 points to North Hall’s 46, which was good for second place overall.
The Trojans' team average of 16:58 would have been good enough for first place in any other classification.
Matt Munns of Blessed Trinity was second overall in AAA and Nik Calia and Stephen Martinez finished fourth and fifth, respectively, for St. Pius. Dylan Forrester of Dawson County was sixth. Zack Hill finished 10th and Teasley Corson and Bailey Pless were 12th and 13th , respectively, for North Hall.
Josh Thompson was Buford’s highest finisher pacing 17th overall. Austin Thompson of White County finished 29th to pace the Warriors.
In the team competition, after St. Pius and North Hall, Woodward Academy (82) was third, Blessed Trinity (128) was fourth, and Oconee County (192) was fifth. East Jackson finished seventh with 233 points, Buford was eighth with 240 points, Dawson County took 12th with 332 points, and White County finished 14th with 464 points.
Race-favorite Marist (53) finished first behind individual race winner Daniel Navarro. LaGrange was second with 75 points, Pickens (136) was third, Perry (230) was fourth, and Alexander (232) rounded out the top five just in front of Chestatee.
Johnson finished 16th, paced by a 13th-place finish from sophomore Gerardo Suarez. Lumpkin County finished 23rd overall behind a 43rd-place finish from sophomore Tristin Duckworth.
In Class AA, Riverside Military Academy's Marcus Guthro narrowly missed out on a state title finishing second, just 11 seconds behind race winner Jordan Flowers of Marist.
Guthro, a senior, helped the Eagles finish 10th with 262 points.
Jefferson would finish fifth overall with 222 points, paced by a 20th-place finish from freshman Addison Cochran.
Marist won the title with 34 points. Wesleyan was second with 57 points, Bleckley County was third with 132 points, and Lovett was fourth with 165 points.
In the Class A boys private portion, Lakeview Academy's Dustin Snyder finished eighth in 17:26. The Lions finished fifth as a team. And in the Class A public championships, Commerce finished third and Towns County sixth. Commerce's Nahum Mendoza finished fifth individually (19:04), while teammate Dominik Lageder was sixth (19:07).
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