Lakeside’s Sid Vaughn opened the 2011 cross country season in high style, setting a course record at Blanchard Woods Park.
Having run the Evans course countless times during his high school career, he saved something special for his final competitive race there.
Vaughn broke his own course record Saturday by nearly 13 seconds, finishing in 16:10.56 to earn the individual title at the Region 2-AAAA Championship.
He was more than 17 seconds better than runner-up Chris Wilder, of Greenbrier.
Instead of a morning start, as Vaughn and his teammates have become accustomed to, the region race was set for the afternoon to mirror that of the upcoming state meet. It will be held Saturday in Carrollton, Ga.
The boys teams raced at 2:30 p.m., followed by the girls at about 3 p.m.
“It helps you get used to what the temperature will be like,” said Vaughn, adding that the later start not only increases the likelihood of eating lunch, but also requires participants to drink more fluids to stay hydrated.
Lakeside’s squads seemed to have things down Saturday, as its boys and girls took the team titles.
The Lakeside boys had 27 points, while Greenbrier came in second with 45. Evans was fifth with 131.
Chase Fowers and Eric Stokes provided depth for the Panthers, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively.
Columbia County runners took nine of the top 10 spots on the boys side.
Lakeside’s Sarah Bowles clocked in at 19:18.78, and teammates Lara Way, Jasmine Payne and Erin Payne came in third, fourth and fifth.
Lakeside’s girls totaled 24 points to take first, while Evans placed second with 91 and Greenbrier was fourth with its 126.
Evans was led by sophomore Jackie Ramos, who finished sixth in 21:27.48.
While the course at Blanchard Woods Park is hilly, the first mile doesn’t give a hint of that. Bowles said it’s mostly downhill at the beginning, so it can be a little deceiving.
She said patience is key, because the downhill start can be tempting when it comes to wanting to push hard early.
Though the victories gave the Panthers region championships, the bigger stage is upcoming.
At the state meet in 2010, the Lakeside girls placed third and the boys came in sixth.
“It’s definitely a confidence-builder,” Bowles said of the win.
“Next week is what I’m focused on.”
Heading into the state meet, Lakeside’s boys are ranked No. 1 in Class AAAA and No. 2 among teams in all classes, according to gatfxc.com. Greenbrier’s boys are ranked sixth.
Lakeside’s girls are ranked second in Class AAAA.