Leading the pack in AAAAAA were Milton, Centennial, and Johns Creek, who are sending both their boys and girls teams to state. Roswell and Alpharetta will also be sending their girls’ teams to state.
The Milton Eagles qualified via their impressive showing at the 5AAAAAA meet at Bolling Park in Canton. Senior Annie Kelly led the Lady Eagles by claiming an individual region championship and helping her team to a second place finish — with help from top 20 performances by Blair Gelb, Jacqueline Mahoney and Maddie Butzer.
The Milton boys used a second place overall finish by Nate Reich to finish third on their side of Region 5 with 70 points — just seven behind region champion Walton. Miles Dayoub and Alex Marshall finished in the top 10 for what is a deep and experienced Milton team.
“For the first eight years I have been coaching at Milton the goal was just to make the state meet and then finish in the top 10,” said Milton coach Andy Carr. “[Because of our experience] this year we changed our focus to run more competitive meets and run faster courses, because we knew this team was special and very deep and strong.
“For our girls the state title has been the driving force all season long [and] this senior led-team knows this is the best chance they have. Everyone is healthy and hungry and not being on the podium would be hard to swallow and live with.”
The Centennial girls narrowly won a 6AAAAAA championship by two points over Johns Creek — using an exorbitant amount of depth to overcome the Lady Gladiators top end power that features Allie Buchalski, the overall region champion.
Highlighting that depth for the Lady Knights were four runners in the top 11 — Haley McKay, Haley Longo, Grace Tavani and Alex Truax.
The Lady Gladiators took second place thanks to Buchalski’s blistering run of 18:21, over 42 seconds faster than her nearest competitor.
On the boys’ side of 6AAAAAA, Alpharetta and Johns Creek will join Centennial at the state meet. The Raiders took region championship honors behind Mitchell Narro’s first place finish and Ryan Shea’s third place run.
Carter Percy (fourth) and Mitchell Smith (sixth) paced the way for the Knights while Erik Olsen (fifth) and Zachary Shroeder (seventh) sparked the Gladiators state qualifying performance.
In class AAAAA, Northview will send both of their teams to Carrollton after a pair of strong showings at the 7AAAAA meet in Canton Oct. 27.
Led by a second place finish from Lindsey Billings and eighth place finish from Shannon Marsh the Lady Titans captured the first region championship in school history.
The Titan boys made their way into the state meet with a fourth place finish. Jamie Cunningham led the way with a 12th place finish with Matt Ruhlin crossing the line in 18th.
“I am so happy for this team, especially the seniors to go out on such a successful note,” said Northview coach Michael Morris. “These kids deserve all the credit for this team.
“They have not wavered in their desire to be the best through brutal, hot summer days and early morning workouts…not to mention the killer workouts that they have completed.”
Blessed Trinity will also send two teams to the state meet after taking third on the boys’ side and first on the girls’ side at the 6AAA championships in Hampton. Natalie Kile took first overall for the girls with Bailey Willett finishing third.