CARROLLTON — The Norcross boys cross country team, along with a pair of Brookwood runners, provided the biggest highlights for Gwinnett at Saturday’s Class AAAAAAA state championship meet.
Brookwood sported the top local finisher in both the boys and girls races — Will Bray was fourth overall and Allie Wardle was sixth — while the surging Norcross boys program earned a third-place trophy by putting five runners in the top 40.
“They worked really hard,” Norcross boys coach Nathaniel Brooks said. “Our goal from the beginning of the season was (to make) the podium. We had a younger team last year and to be able to get seventh at state last year, we felt really good about that. We just had kids who have been working really hard to get in that mix and get in the top group.”
Miguel Schlicht led Norcross with a 13th-place finish in 16 minutes, 50.30 seconds, and teammates Eric Van Ness (19th, 17:00.76) and Delfino Juarez (21st, 17:04.78) weren’t far behind. Yonas Chimbanda (38th, 17:27.64) and Elliott Januzelli (39th, 17:27.66) were in the top 40, and Irving Murueta was 87th (18:09.30).
It was the highest AAAAAAA finish for the Blue Devils.
“It feels like the fastest team we’ve had (in Norcross history) just based on PRs and how well they competed in such a big race,” Brooks said.
Bray led Gwinnett boys runners with his fourth-place finish in 16:20.66, easily the best time among Gwinnett runners. Wardle accomplished the same feat with her Gwinnett-best showing of sixth in the girls race in 19:50.22.
“Allie executed the race plan really well,” Brookwood girls coach Chris Carter said. “The plan was to go out solidly in the top 10, which she did. I’m especially proud of the determination she showed late in the race. She moved up from 11th to sixth in the last 600 meters. She showed she can run with the state’s best. What’s even more exciting is that, as a sophomore, she’s got some areas in which she can still grow for the upcoming spring and next fall.”
Mill Creek also had a nice day with sixth-place finishes in the boys and girls races.
The Hawks’ got back-to-back finishes in 14th and 15th from Ethan Nordman (16:51.54) and Jake Peters (16:55.23) in the boys race, and also had Aidan Van Derhei (30th, 17:18.06), Lance Wells (80th, 18:04.76) and Joseph Kim (84th, 18:06.68) in the top 100.
Emily Guy (20:36.74) led the Mill Creek girls in 21st place, and Edith Kahiga (20:47.97) was 29th. They were backed up by five other runners in the top 100 — Jordyn Purnell (42nd, 21:03.21), Kathryn Scales (58th, 21:21.49), Isabelle Hahn (79th, 21:47.92), Alex Surowiec (81st, 21:48.84) and Andrea Montes (97th, 22:03.60).
The Mill Creek girls edged out North Gwinnett, which finished just behind in seventh place. The Bulldogs were led by Tori Meyer in 20th at 20:28.69, along with Marianna Gazzara (38th, 20:58.10), Jewel Lewis (44th, 21:04.85), Abigail Snyder (60th, 21:26.86), Maddy Tilson (74th, 21:42.21), Avery Clabaugh (84th, 21:50.20) and Reese Robertson (92nd, 21:57.17).
Parkview’s boys team ended up in eighth thanks in large part to a pair of top-10 finishers, Andrew Todd in eighth (16:38.63) and Caden Hall in 10th (16:41.08). The Panthers’ Martin Robles was 54th (17:39.37) and Antonio Valenti was 96th (18:17.93).
In addition to Bray, Brookwood had four other top-100 runners — Jackson Harper (41st, 17:29.39), Seth Wheeler (55th, 17:41.77), Kadin McAllister (88th, 18:09.54) and Peyton Harley (98th, 18:19.04) — and finished 11th in the team standings.
North Gwinnett’s boys team was 16th behind Yanni Pothoulakis (32nd, 17:18.69), Michael Maron (44th, 17:31.50), Aiden Streleckis (72nd, 18:01.82) and Matthew Drane (97th, 18:18.60).
Archer, 17th in the boys race, got a 12th-place run from Sebasthian Rodriguez (16:50.03), as well as 31st place from Skylar Taylor (17:18.08) and 93rd from Steven McCartney (18:15.05). Mountain View’s boys were 21st with Andrew Giacalone (74th, 18:02.55) and Marcus Lasey (99th, 18:19.95) leading the way. Peachtree Ridge’s Aldi Susanto was 62nd (17:53.06) to help his team to 23rd place, while Discovery was 24th led by Jorge Patino in 56th (17:46.12).
In the girls standings, Parkview (13th), Brookwood (14th), Norcross (17th), Archer (19th) and Duluth (20th) ended up in the top 20.
Parkview was led by Abi Debebe (23rd, 20:39.30), Jaimie Chen (26th, 20:43.68) and Haley Primm (37th, 20:57.15), and Brookwood backed up Wardle’s top finish with Macy Felton (69th, 21:36.76), Emma Ingalls (77th, 21:46.63) and Addy Keszler (85th, 21:52.12).
Claudia Gatti led the Norcross girls with a 13th-place run in 20:17.93, and teammate Kyra Andrews was 32nd in 20:50.48. Archer’s Ashley Annis was 35th (20:53.00) and Paige Sandidge was 67th (21:34.54). Lyric Minter was 50th (21:11.94) to lead Duluth, while the Wildcats’ Sabrina Mejia was 76th (21:45.44). Peachtree Ridge took 21st led by its top finisher, Kaitlyn Laney Pierce (98th, 22:04.68).