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Cross Country cresting toward region title aspirations

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The season’s been building toward this moment for Jones County High School’s cross country squads. Now, it’s nearly here. After once again proving their mettle in last week’s Mount de Sales Cavalier Classic, taking the top individual girls spot and boys team title, the GHSA Region 4-AAAAA meet next weekend at Locust Grove awaits.

Both teams are now in the process of resting up before next weekend. Needless to say, the Greyhounds are chomping at the bit. Last week’s performance just west of Macon doesn’t hurt late-season momentum, either.

“We’re going into what we call championship phase, we’ll back off on mileage runs and things like that,” JCHS head coach Geoff Moore said. “(After this stretch), they’re beat up and tired. We’ll get ready to go to Locust Grove, give it our best shot and try to bring home two titles.”

With four finishes in the top ten, the Greyhounds took the event’s boys title, led by Justus Boyd’s third-place time of 17:47.88 and Kyle Whipple a palace back in fourth at 18:09.20. Austin Sullivan timed in seventh at 18:44.00 and Nathan Corrigan was tenth with a time of 19:23.42 - just ahead of Joshua Barber’s 11th-place time of 19:30.33. Bayden Burns was 14th at 19:35.05, Levi Skinner was 15th via a 19:35.47, Jackson Taylor’s 19:59.30 was good for 19:59.30 and Austin Collins was 22nd at 20:26.53.

“The boys ran good. They’re fun to watch, they’re a great group. We came to do what we talked about before we came, take care of business,” Moore said. “It’s just tough to do after school in the heat.”

Also helping the effort was Aaron England in 27th (20:48.76), Joshua Elsasser was 30th (21:03.81), Travis Hill was 34th (21:20.73), Drew England was 39th (21:39.31) and Kyle Gillespe was 45th (21:51.15). Zavon Green’s 31:39.24 was 110th overall and set a personal best time.

In the girls race, the Lady Greyhounds were hit by an in-race ankle injury by Sydney Grant, and it was enough to drop JCHS to a second-place finish. Bowman is expected to be ready for the region. Laney Doster turned in another dominating showing, taking first overall at 20:18.69, and Mariah Hunter was seventh at 23:41.79.

“It’s very exciting, it’s also a little scary because the season is almost over,” Doster said. “It's exciting because this is what we work for all year - region and state.”

Halley Smith’s 23:48.21 earned a ninth-place finish and Kaitlin Malone was 15th with 24:40.76, in front of Reagan Hicks (25:44.62), Raleigh Dyer (25:44.96), Emily Patat (25:51.44) and Bowman in 23rd, 24th, 27th and 29th, respectively.

“It’s tough running after school in the heat,” Moore said. “Losing a runner during a race is probably worth about 30 points. When that happens, someone has to step up. The main thing is to have everyone healthy. Today was almost like a practice for us.”

Middle school teams win big

Running under the banner of Gray Station Middle School at the Middle Georgia Middle School Athletic League Championships, the local contingent won big, taking the over-all boys and girls team titles. Not only that, but Jones County took the top three individual spots in the girls varsity race and first, second and third on the boys side.

All but one Jones County runner in all races, the varsity and JV, set a personal best time in the meet. Camryn Wommack led the way to the finish line in the girls race at 14:14.53 ahead of Lily Palmer in second (14:25.84), and Isabella Sanchez in third (14:31.91). Sable Teague was tenth (16:21.00) with others leading being Abigail Norris (17:08.78) in 19th and Gabrielle Childs (17:39.00) in 20th.

In the girls JV race, Ashley Bennett was first (18:28.28), Allie Betts was fourth (19:47.66) while in fifth, through ninth were Lyndsie Hanner (19:49.06), Carly Mercer (19:56.03), Moriah Hursey (20:42.44), Sydney Smith (20:58.84) and Sarah Zellner (21:24.66).

Gavin Robinson led for Jones County in the boys varsity race, his time of 12:35.47 being good for the top spot ahead of Landon Steinmeyer in second (12:56.66). Jones County claimed the fourth through seventh spots. Andrew Marshall headed that pack with a time of 13:14.41 in front of Gunner Kent (13:19.62), Luke Thornton (13:42.25) and Rhett Perry (13:43.31). Tyler Marshall was 12th (14:14.15).

With a time of 14:02.00, Shaun Williams was second in the JV race, just ahead of Cam Moody (14:22.50) in third, Dawson Walker in fourth (14:34.53), Jackson Ham in fifth (14:48.00), John Rackley in sixth (14:52.31), Clayton Lacy in seventh (14:55.72), Hunter McClesky (15:05.50) in 8th, Ayden Griffin (15:07.38) in ninth and Avery Gordon in 11th (15:24.31).

A handful of others gave Jones County top-20 individual finishes. Seth Walker was 13th (15:39.69), Cayman Caldwell was 17th (16:51.69), Drew Holder was 18th (17:07.62), Javian Gibson was 19th (17:13.69) and Andrew Pecorelli was 20th (17:32.03).