The Lady Hornets are seasoned, returning all seven runners from a top 10 team in the state last year, while the boys are a youthful bunch, comprised of news faces and a roster littered with underclassmen.
But in another sense, they have more in common that they might think.
Placed in 5AAAAAA, both teams are running in what may be the best cross country region in the state, and head coach David Evans said that while both groups have their eyes on qualifying for state, they know they will have their work cut out for them to get there.
“It isn’t going to be easy,” said the Roswell coach. “The girls have been placed in what some are calling the region of death, with five of the top nine teams at last year’s state meet in the region.”
“The boys’ side isn’t quite as tough, but we’re still up against three top teams with a pretty young group.”
The Lady Hornets — who have three straight top 10 finishes at state — are ranked No. 5 in Class AAAAAA by gamilesplit.com and joined in 5AAAAAA by Milton (No. 2), Walton (No. 3), Woodstock (No. 8) and Lassiter, who finished fifth in the state last year.
To return to state this year, they’ll have to run past at least one of those teams and finish in the top four at the region meet in October.
“One really fast team is going to be left at home, so in that sense we’re lucky to have all seven girls back this year. We definitely expect to get to state and perform well though; it should be an exciting year for them.”
Seniors Peyton Thomas and Morgan Green lead the girls’ pack with Erin Gant, Erin Simons, Grace McCarty and talented freshman Sunshine Flamer providing depth to the roster.
The boys’ team has just one senior (Andrew Patterson) in their top 10, and their talented junior Drew Kelley has battled injuries in the early portion of the season. In his place, Evans said sophomores like Brandon Tardif, junior Jack Hayes and a number of other young runners are coming on strong.
“We are talented, but historically youth doesn’t favor the boys’ teams that much. The good thing is that these kids are going to improve a considerable amount and if they do that I think they have a good shot at region.”