2018 Gwinnett Daily Post Cross Country Team Previews

Peachtree Ridge’s Chase Condra runs during last season’s cross country State Championships at Carrollton High School in Carrollton. (Photo: Karl L. Moore)

Class AAAAAAA

Area 4-AAAAAAA

Berkmar

Boys coach: Madison Wolfe

Top boys runner: Ismail Mohammed, Soph.

Outlook: The Patriots and Mohammed are after a higher finish in a tough region this season.

Girls coach: Rosina Diaz

Top girls runner: Naomi Michael, Sr.

Outlook: Michael brings some experience to a lineup that will feature its share of new runners.

Brookwood

Boys coach: Ben Dehnke

Top boys runners: Luke McNeil, Jr.; Michael Hopf, Sr.; Rulon Frandsen, Sr.; Patrick Smith, Sr.; Eddie DeSandre, Jr.; Will Bray, Soph.

Outlook: A young team — the Broncos had five seniors in last year’s state lineup — aims to improve on an 11th-place finish in AAAAAAA. Among the top runners back are McNeil, who placed a team-best 29th at the state meet last year.

Girls coach: Chris Carter

Top girls runners: Hannah Gatland, Sr.; Lauren Bennett, Sr.; Emily Thisdale, Sr.; Marilyn Coughlin, Sr.; Katy Moran, Sr.; Reese Saddler, Jr.; Jessica Evenchick, Jr.; Diana Evans, Jr.; Alyssa Hall, Jr.; Maggie Thomas, Jr.; Lindsey Taylor, Jr.; Ally Smeeton, Jr.; Myra Arguello, Jr.; Shari Gasper, Soph.; Emma Rhodes, Soph.; T’Naisha Cox, Soph.; Grace Newell, Soph.; Sophia Rodriguez, Soph.; Emma Ingalls, Soph.; Lux Corrona, Soph.; Jalynn Yearby, Soph.; Ellie Ford, Soph.; Meredith Jones, Fr.; Hannah Mobley, Fr.; Addy Keszler, Fr.; Ali McNeil, Fr.; Lucy Ruff, Fr.; Kia Rivas-Bohorquez, Fr.

Outlook: Carter thinks the Broncos have improved since last season, when they were ninth at state. They return their top two finishers from state in Saddler (37th) and Gatland (38th).

Central Gwinnett

Boys coach: Demetris Riddles

Top boys runners: Conrado Del Real, Sr.

Outlook: Graduation took one of the best runners in school history, Axel Avalos, who was 17th at last year’s state meet. The lead role goes to Del Real in the first season under new head coach Riddles.

Girls coach: Clinton Womack

Top girls runner: Trish Do, Soph.

Outlook: Womack, a former Central runner, takes over as head coach this year. He is excited about the team’s chances at improvement and inherits a talented young runner in Do.

Collins Hill

Boys coach: Andrew Hudson

Top boys runners: Haylen Mann, Jr.; Joel Gregory, Sr.; Nick Ives, Sr.

Outlook: Collins Hill was sixth at state last season (and only five points away from third), but must replace graduation losses Kai Brickey (11th at state), Anthony Urmetz (19th) and Gyasi Cockrell (24th). Gregory, Ives and Mann were all members of the Eagles’ state team in 2017.

Girls coach: Monica Daab

Top girls runners: Paulina Seely, Jr.; Rebecca Schaefer, Jr.; Mikayla Dudley, Jr.; Shea Bonacci, Jr.

Outlook: The Eagles have the right mix of youth, experience and talent for a return to the state meet after missing the last few seasons.

Discovery

Boys coach: Kandra Bailey

Top boys runners: Pablo Muniz-Gutierrez, Sr.; Benjamin Reyes, Sr.; Ryan Frye, Jr.; Anthony Stefanie, Soph.

Outlook: A solid returning group has the boys team encouraged for better results this season.

Girls coach: Jessica Ursprung

Top girls runners: Sol Mendoza, Soph.; Isis Mendoza, Sr.; Amelia Stefanie, Sr.

Outlook: Discovery will build around the success of Sol Mendoza as it builds the program up under Ursprung, a former North Gwinnett runner.

Duluth

Boys coach: Steve Fairchild

Top boys runners: Connor Creedon, Sr.; Matthew Finol, Jr.; Gavin Kembel, Jr.

Outlook: The Wildcats will look to Creedon, a senior, for leadership with a talented group of young runners.

Girls coach: Brooke Wright

Top girls runners: LeeAnn Lawrence, Sr.; Christin Bowring, Sr.; Saamira Banit, Sr.; Ellie Jordan, Jr.

Outlook: A veteran group of runners will help Duluth compete in a difficult area.

Meadowcreek

Boys coach: Aimee Michael

Top boys runners: Luis Nieto, Jr.; Carlos Calderon, Sr.; Oscar Lazo, Sr.; Angel Lazo, Soph.

Outlook: A lineup of proven runners gives the Mustangs high hopes for the 2018 season.

Girls coach: Aimee Michael

Top girls runners: Kayla Rumph, Sr.; Charlotte Hope, Jr.

Outlook: Experienced runners Rumph and Hope figured to have good seasons while leading a young group of teammates.

Mill Creek

Boys coach: Andy Christie

Top boys runners: Brian Pelland, Jr.; Joseph Muck, Sr.; Paul Pollock, Jr.; Luke Pelland, Soph.; Gage McKay, Jr.; Luke Surowiec, Sr.

Outlook: The Hawks won their second Gwinnett County championship last season, but faltered in a rough state meet and slid to 13th. That finish is unusual for a program that placed in the top seven at the state championships from 2009-16.

Girls coach: Michael Sexton

Top girls runners: Hannah Marr, Sr.; Genelle McNiff, Jr.; Hannah Olive, Sr.; Kelsey Powell, Sr.; Hadley Rhine, Soph.

Outlook: Sexton was promoted to head coach in the offseason for the Hawks, coming off a 10th-place finish at state. They must replace their top three runners from last year — sisters Marisa and Camryn Petit, and Oliva Fuller, but the new coach likes his senior leadership. Rhine (78th), Powell (81st) and Olive (92nd) were contributors on the 2017 state team.

Mountain View

Boys coach: Donald Macoy

Top boys runners: Daniel Hollander, Jr.; Keenan Baxter, Sr.; Andrew Giacolone, Soph.; Logan Sanders, Soph.; Ian Sierzant, Soph.

Outlook: A youthful lineup hasn’t tempered expectations for Mountain View, which is shooting for a top-six finish at area. Hollander is the team’s top returning runner.

Girls coach: Lindsey McDaniel

Top girls runners: Chloe Hetherington, Sr.; Maddison Watts, Jr.; Amy Kim, Sr.

Outlook: All but one runner from last year’s 13th-place state team returns, leaving high hopes for the best season in school history. An impressive group of senior runners, led by Hetherington (13th at state as a junior), has the Bears aiming for a top-three finish at area and a top-10 finish at state.

Norcross

Boys coach: Nathaniel Brooks

Top boys runners: Gabriel Schlicht, Jr.; Miguel Schlicht, Soph.

Outlook: Brothers Gabriel and Miguel Schlicht lead the way for Brooks, in his second season as head coach.

Girls coach: Katherine Yost

Top girls runners: Merritt Blum, Jr.; Ana Yerbabuena, Soph.

Outlook: The girls team enters a new era with first-year head coach Yost, a former all-state runner for the Blue Devils. Yost just finished her college career as the most decorated runner and first NCAA qualifier in Georgia College history.

North Gwinnett

Boys coach: John Rowland

Top boys runners: Roman Dzikowski, Jr.; Michael Maron, Soph.; Jackson McClimans, Sr.; Brendan McCormack, Sr.; Carter Patton, Jr.; Aiden Strelekis, Soph.; Jack Wegmet, Sr.

Outlook: A trip to the state meet is the goal for the Bulldogs, led by seniors McCormack, McClimans and Wegmet. Those veterans, along with the improvement of younger runners, should make qualifying for state a realistic possibility.

Girls coach: John Rowland

Top girls runners: Erica Hambacker, Jr.; Makenna Kulzer, Jr.; Hannah Priest, Sr.; Abby Snyder, Soph.; Caroline Ursprung, Sr.

Outlook: North graduated the top two state finishers (Sarah Melkerson, Lyndsey Fowler) from a team that won Gwinnett County and area titles before finishing a county-best fifth in Class AAAAAAA. But the Bulldogs still plan to be among the state’s best behind Kulzer (33rd at state last season) and Ursprung, who had one of the best track seasons of any local distance runner. Hambacker, Priest and Snyder also are returning from the starting lineup at state.

Parkview

Boys coach: Mike Demarest

Top boys runners: Bryce Thomas, Sr.; Pete FitzSimons, Sr.; David Brown, Sr.; Zach Gooch, Sr.; Tristan Autry, Jr.; Noah Fann, Jr.; Tyler Talik, Jr.; Trey Durden, Jr.; Andrew Todd, Soph.; Ben Tesfai, Soph.

Outlook: Parkview has a goal of reaching the podium at state after a disappointing, 15th-place finish last year. It must replace its top runner the past three seasons in Christian Corsello (12th at state in 2018), but has strong senior leadership from Thomas, FitzSimons, Brown and Gooch.

Girls coach: Mike Demarest

Top girls runners: Leah Disher, Sr.; Wendy Jazo, Jr.; Elise Musser, Jr.; Claire Mills, Jr.; Kendal Sparks, Jr.; Alyssa Charlton, Soph.; Emma Gainey, Fr.; Rebecca Harcourt, Fr.

Outlook: After missing state for just the second time in a 20-year span, the Panthers hope to return with a talented junior class and the anticipated return of senior Disher.

Peachtree Ridge

Boys coach: Matt Adams

Top boys runners: Chase Condra, Sr.; Cannon Dyer, Soph.; Thomas Kennedy, Jr.; Colin Beck, Jr.

Outlook: The Lions were eighth at state last year thanks in large part to Condra, the Daily Post’s runner of the year the past two seasons. Condra, fourth in the state meet in 2017, joins five other runners from last year’s top seven on this year’s roster.

Girls coach: Matt Adams

Top girls runners: Abby Carmack, Sr.; Zoe Torio, Soph.; Karley McNeill, Jr.; Kathy Shen, Sr.; Ilaina Kim, Jr.

Outlook: Peachtree Ridge aims to return to the state meet despite the graduation of two-time Daily Post runner of the year Mary Kathryn Knott, last year’s state runner-up. The top returning runners include Carmack, the team’s No. 2 finisher at state in 53rd.

Area 1-AAAAAAA

Archer

Boys coach: John McCartney

Top boys runner: Myles Collins, Jr.

Outlook: Though James Cragin, sixth at state last year, has graduated, Archer does return Collins, who was 10th in AAAAAAA as a sophomore. Collins is the only runner in the top four back from a team that finished a Gwinnett-best fifth at the state meet.

Girls coach: John McCartney

Top girls runners: Kelley Connerley, Sr.; Olivia Henry, Sr.; Sarah McCartney, Jr.; Grace Carpenter, Jr; Nina Lewis, Soph.

Outlook: McCartney, who has worked with the girls distance runners in track the past five years, takes over as head coach. He inherits a team with hopes of its best finishes at county and state. The Tigers, 20th at state, didn’t have a senior in their state lineup last season.

Grayson

Boys coach: Mac Bradbury

Top boys runners: Chris Cherono, Jr.; Ty Freeman, Jr.; Colby Freeman, Sr.; Will Clack, Soph.

Outlook: The Rams have high goals this season coming off a ninth-place finish at the state meet. The returning runners include Cherono, who was 22nd at state last year.

Girls coach: Mac Bradbury

Top girls runners: Eva Ross, Sr.; Erica Richey, Jr.; Gracie Botsford, Jr.; Kaylah Saint-Juste, Jr.

Outlook: After qualifying for state last season, Grayson aims to return this year behind returning state team members Ross, Richey, Botsford and Saint-Juste.

Shiloh

Boys coach: Casey Ramel

Top boys runners: Robert Cranston, Sr.; Allan Bahr, Soph.; Demarian Murray, Soph.; Leo Cardona, Sr.; Jorge Quiquivix, Soph.; Danny Bennett, Sr.; Andy Salgado, Fr.; Nate Solomon, Fr.

Outlook: Shiloh hopes to challenge for the area championship and a third straight trip to the state meet behind Cranston, who was 45th in Class AAAAAAA last year.

Girls coach: Casey Ramel

Top girls runners: Hanan Jemel, Sr.; Emily Fredrick, Jr.; Zari Anderson, Sr.; Julie Tang, Sr.; Brea Humphrey, Jr.; Ania Polk, Jr.; Khalia Cowart, Sr.; Dayanara Castenada-Reyes, Soph.; Michelle Lopez, Sr.

Outlook: The girls team also has goals of a third straight state trip and an area championship with a lineup that includes previous state qualifiers in Jemel, Fredrick and Anderson.

South Gwinnett

Boys coach: Justin Hooks

Top boys runners: Larson Evans, Sr.; Daniel Owumi, Soph.; Sayda Smith, Sr.; Sean Smith, Soph.; Josue Puente, Sr.

Outlook: A solid pack of runners has Hooks encouraged about the Comets’ chances.

Girls coach: Justin Hooks

Top girls runners: Kiara Brotherton, Sr.; Nancy Irungu, Jr.; Destiny Harrison, Sr.; Tanzania Burney-Lilly, Sr.

Outlook: Hooks thinks an improving group of runners can set a number of personal bests this season.

Class AAAAAA

Region 8-AAAAAA

Dacula

Boys coach: Matt King

Top boys runners: Ben Butcher, Soph.; Matt Schenberg, Sr.; Hayden Baker, Sr.; Matt Morgenroth, Soph.; Sebastian Savage, Jr.

Outlook: Only two of Dacula’s top seven runners are back from a team that finished 11th in the state. One of those returning is Butcher, who was 62nd at state last season as a freshman.

Girls coach: Allyson Fields

Top girls runners: Brianna Thomas, Sr.; Miranda Colon, Jr.; Kristina Davis, Jr.

Outlook: Graduation took one of the state’s top athletes, state runner-up Skylar English, but the returning girls, along with some new faces, have shown promise. Thomas and Colon were on last year’s state team.

Lanier

Boys coach: Bob Gardner

Top boys runners: Luke Cranor, Jr.; Garrett Lynch, Sr.; Eduard Alvarez-Flores, Sr.; Nick Phillips, Soph.; Sean Murphy, Soph.; Gavin Lynch, Soph.; Ian Toole, Soph.

Outlook: Lanier has some experience back from a team that qualified for state in 2017, including Cranor and Garrett Lynch, who were 90th and 91st individually in Carrollton.

Girls coach: Bob Gardner

Top girls runners: Katie Kress, Soph.; Sydney Hutchinson, Sr.; Savannah Nicholls, Sr.; Hannah Morgan, Sr.; Kristen Grant, Sr.

Outlook: The Longhorns aim to improve on last year’s season, which was capped by a trip to state. Top runner Zoie Gardner (44th at state) graduated, but the returnees include Kress, the team’s No. 2 runner at state last year.

Class AAAAA

Region 8-AAAAA

Buford

Boys coach: Matthew Johnson

Top boys runners: Ben Archer, Jr.; Gavin Smith, Sr.; Bayley Hunter, Sr.; Brendon Allen, Jr.; Zach Davidson, Soph.

Outlook: Johnson, whose team was 16th at state last year, likes this team’s depth and work ethic. The top returning finisher at state is Allen, who was 68th.

Girls coach: Matthew Johnson

Top girls runners: Caroline Montini, Soph.; Jordan Sullivan, Jr.; Heidi Hyatt, Sr.; Madison Herrmann, Sr.; Olivia Sibley, Sr.

Outlook: A strong core returns from Buford’s ninth-place state team from last fall, and some newcomers will help its chances this season. Among the returning runners is Montini, the Wolves’ top finisher at state last year (35th).

Class AAA

Region 7-AAA

GAC

Boys coach: Brad Kinser

Top boys runners: Parker Hallock, Soph.; Trey Dixon, Jr.

Outlook: GAC was 10th in the state last season, but must replace some key seniors this season under Kinser, in his 30th year coaching the program. Top state finisher David Reed (19th) graduated, but Hallock is back after placing 54th as a freshman.

Girls coach: Brad Kinser

Top girls runners: Elise Karinshak, Sr.; Taylor Gulley, Soph.

Outlook: After narrowly missing state in 2017, the Spartans are hungry to qualify this season.

Class A Private

Area 2-A

Hebron Christian

Boys coach: Mike Beaudreau

Top boys runners: Brandon Potra, Sr.; Michael Fabiano, Sr.; Blake Fugel, Jr.; Preston Brown, Soph.; Michael Brooks, Soph.; Landon Camp, Soph.

Outlook: After breaking through with a team state championship last season, the Lions have a goal of repeating with a deep roster that was thinned some by graduation and by the out-of-state move from Ethan Selph, a seventh-place finisher at state last year. The returning runners include Potra (sixth at state last year), Fugel (12th at state), Brown (15th at state), Fabiano (24th at state) and Brooks (43rd at state).

Girls coach: Maranda Garrett

Top girls runners: McKenna Taylor, Jr.; Brooke Browning, Fr.; Georgia Piper, Fr.; Carson Rose McKee, Soph.; Claire McGuirt, Fr.; Emma Grace Hoffman, Jr.

Outlook: The girls have a goal of reaching the state meet with a young roster that features no seniors and three freshmen in the top group. Hebron’s only representative at state last year, individual qualifier Amanda Jackson, graduated.

Providence Christian

Boys coach: Chris Stephens

Top boys runners: Joel Duffie, Sr.; Landon King, Jr.; Luke Hudson, Jr.; Colson Drake, Soph.; Timmy Truong, Sr.

Outlook: Building depth behind top returners King, Hudson and Duffie will be key if Providence is to improve on last year’s 11th-place finish at state. King (20th at state) and Hudson (29th) had the team’s best finishes in the A Private championships.

Girls coach: Chris Stephens

Top girls runners: Jennifer Woollery, Soph.; Ayden Drake, Soph.; Maddie Wheatly, Jr.; Taylor Simmons, Soph.; Sophia McCumber, Soph.

Outlook: The Storm, fifth at state last year, look to be among the classification’s top teams once again. The lineup includes all-state runners in Woollery and Drake, who were ninth and 11th, respectively, at last year’s state meet.

Wesleyan

Boys coach: Chad McDaniel

Top boys runners: Mac Howie, Soph.; Will Parrish, Sr.; Jamarcus Turner, Jr.; Colton Villa, Soph.; Shane Kelly, Soph.; Liam Coxhead, Sr.; Cole Elsevier, Sr.

Outlook: The Wolves, annually among the state’s best, will have a revamped lineup this season after graduating four of their top seven and seven of their top 10 from last season.

Girls coach: Chad McDaniel

Top girls runners: Mary Ann Manley, Sr.; Miller Louthan, Sr.; Ashley Doran, Sr.; Caitlin Kelly, Soph.; Mary Ortwein, Jr.; Mikayla John, Soph.

Outlook: After a fourth-place finish at state last year, Wesleyan returns a deep lineup for 2018. Kelly was 19th at state as a freshman, while Kaloper (29th), John (30th) and Doran (31st) also were top finishers.

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