Every boys runner on the Mill Creek cross country team enjoyed a new experience Saturday at the Georgia International Horse Park.
The Hawks won the Gwinnett County championship for the third time in program history and the first since 2017, before any current runners were in high school. As for the individual race, Nathan Solomon broke an even longer drought for his school.
Solomon became Shiloh’s first individual cross country champion since Gibbs Knotts won back-to-back championships in 1987-88, well before Solomon was born.
“It meant a lot just because it was the first competitive race I’ve ever won in cross country and it just happened to be county,” the Shiloh senior said. “That’s one of the reasons why it was special, just because it was county, the second-most important race of the season.”
Solomon, whose older brother Nahom was an All-American runner at Georgia Tech, won the 5K race in 15 minutes, 48 seconds, six seconds ahead of runner-up Miles Ferguson of Archer. He has bigger goals, like a state championship, as this cross country season progresses, but Saturday’s win was a major milestone. He also wants make a run at breaking the 15-minute barrier, along with toppling his brother’s school cross country record of 15:34.
He also has a more unselfish goal for a Shiloh cross country program that also got a seventh-place finish from Andy Salgado (16:38).
“I hope what (winning county) does, really not necessarily other teams looking at us, but I just won for my school and I hope it encourages other kids to come out and run,” Solomon said. “Our team has been kind of small the last three or four years, so what excites me the most is getting more kids out to run.”
The Generals are excited to have Solomon, the youngest of four siblings to attend Shiloh, leading the way.
“Nathan is the true testament of a student-athlete and as good of an athlete as he is, he is an even more dedicated student and leader for his peers,” Shiloh coach Devin Jones said. “He comes from a great family and support system who believes in success in academics and athletics. We are always proud of his success but are not surprised due to his commitment and dedication to his personal success.”
While Solomon took the individual crown, Mill Creek dominated the boys team competition and added a 2021 county title to previous wins in 2012 and 2017. The Hawks finished with a low score of 38 points, well clear of runner-up Brookwood’s 82.
“It means a lot to us to win county, with the history of cross country excellence in Gwinnett,” Mill Creek coach Andy Christie said. “However, we also know it is early in the season. We'll celebrate the victory and then get back to work.”
Ethan Nordman was Mill Creek’s top finisher in third place with a time of 16:06, but he had plenty of support, including teammates Luke Kalarickal (sixth, 16:33), Shahzeb Rashid (eighth, 16:47) and Jacob Peters (ninth, 16:47) in the top 10. Joseph Kim rounded out the scoring in 12th (16:50), and Eli Griggs also got into the top 30 at 29th (17:36).
“I'm thrilled with how the boys performed,” Christie said. “They are completely bought in to whatever they can do to help the team succeed. They ran smart and got the job done. I knew getting all five scorers in the top 15 would be a good day, so getting them all in the top 12 was tremendous.”
Brookwood finished ahead of a competitive pack in the top five that featured third-place Archer (119), followed by North Gwinnett (124) and Parkview (132). The deep Broncos had all five scorers in the top 22 and put 10 runners in the top 32.
Jonah Harper led that group in 11th (16:49), and Marshall Bray took 14th (16:59). Kingsley Doyle (16th, 17:06), Peyton Harley (19th, 17:17) and Benjamin Roberts (22nd, 17:19) rounded out the Brookwood scoring, and the Broncos also got top finishes from Charlie Thomas (23rd, 17:22), Austin Dezwart (24th, 17:24), Don Presley (28th, 17:30), Oscar Garcia (31st, 17:43) and Carter Dehnke (32nd, 17:46).
Third-place Archer had two of the top-four finishers, getting the runner-up finish from Ferguson and a fourth-place run from Steven McCartney (16:17). Fourth-place North’s top finishers were Yianni Pothoulakis (10th, 16:48), Will Collett (13th, 16:58), Matthew Drane (21st, 17:18) and Cole Hambacker (30th, 17:40). Caden Hall led Parkview with a fifth-place performance in 16:29, and he was backed up by Martin Robles (18th, 17:16), David Garcia (25th, 17:26) and Jack Holcomb (27th, 17:28).
Sixth-place Dacula (185) put Hayden Squires (17th, 17:09) and Chance Jones (20th, 17:18) in the top 30, while seventh-place Greater Atlanta Christian (207) was led by Colton Harsh (15th, 17:05). Norcross (272) and Peachtree Ridge (284) were ninth and 10th, respectively, in the team standings.