Racing against the state’s best, Jones County’s cross country runners paced their way to top-ten team finishers on Saturday morning at the GHSA State Meet in Carrollton, running into the school record books as well.
While the Greyhounds posted the first top-ten finish on the boys side in program history, the Lady Greyhounds also left an indelible mark, extending their top-ten finish to a school-record five seasons.
The Greyhounds, with an average time of 17:52, placed eighth in the boys AAAAA meet with three individual finishes inside the top 53 finishing spots. Kyle Whipple’s time of 17:25.05 was not only the best of the JCHS boys runners in 24th - it was also the program’s best individual time at the state meet.
Austin Sullivan was 38th with a time of 17:46.56 and Justus Boyd in 53rd by way of a time of17:55.12. A time of 18:05.22 gave Levi Skinner a 65th-place finish.
It capped a meteoric rise to finish the season for Skinner, who just a few weeks ago was slotted with the JV group of runners for JCHS.
“He ran the race of his life, “ Jones County head coach Geoff Moore said. “He was not even on our varsity roster until the region meet, and now he’s our (fourth) guy.”
Nathan Corrigan was 68th (18:10.56), Joshua Barber was 141st (19:29.13) and Marquise Hunter was 145th (19:32.07).
Laney Doster added yet another accolade to her storied career for the Lady Greyhounds. With a time of 19:30.20, she was fifth in the girls AAAAA meet, her third finish within the top six in the past three seasons.
“She saved her best for last, that’s the toughest field in the state to run against,” Moore said. “The top two teams (St. Pius X and Blessed Trinity) in our classification are the best two in Georgia, and she ran with them.”
It was also her best finish at the state meet by 35 seconds. Doster was also among the top ten runners time-wise across all classifications.
Led by Doster and the 46th-place finish of Mariah Hunter on a time of 21:58.97, the Lady Greyhounds were tenth overall by virtue of an average time of 22:14.06.
“The pace she was on, she felt like was comfortable for her. She was very aggressive the whole time,” Moore said of Doster. “That’s a great time for anybody.”
Aiding the effort as well was Kaitlin Malone in 63rd (22:29.27), Sydney Grant in 89th (23:15.12), Halley Smith in 112th (23:56.40), Reagan Hicks in 138th (24:42.47) and Raleigh Dyer in 175th (26:49.70).
While Doster is among those graduating, a strong nucleus returns for the Lady Hounds next year with Grant, Malone, and Hicks set to return next season as they lose four of their top seven runners. The outlook is even brighter on the boys side with each runner that competed at the state meet back for 2021.
“The next few years are going to be really fun with his group,” Moore said. “Our goal is to get a podium finish next year. They are already asking when we’ll start training again, that’s what you want - kids that are eager to compete.”