Though it is still very early in the fall season, it is pretty evident to see some trends developing.
Volleyball-wise, the county has some talented teams in public and private schools.
In the public school arena, there are two teams that have quickly risen to the top of the pile.
On top – surprising probably to those outside of the program – Maureen McCormack’s Lakeside Lady Panthers have roared out to a 12-1 start, their only loss coming in the season-opener against Greenbrier.
The Lady Panthers evened the season series, beating Greenbrier a week ago at the Lady Wolfpack’s five-team Play Day, and the two were slated to play Thursday night at Greenbrier. They play for a fourth time on Thursday, Oct. 3, at Lakeside in the match that will count toward their area record.
Greenbrier, the defending area champions, has started the year 7-3, with all three losses coming at the Lady Wolfpack’s tournament.
All of the county teams are relatively young, so they all have a chance to raise their level of play before the area tournament in the middle of October, but if Lakeside and Greenbrier do the same, it is hard to see the others getting by them.
I haven’t seen Augusta Christian on the volleyball court yet, but I’ve seen Augusta Prep, and it appears they are ready to make some noise in this year’s Georgia Independent Scholastic Association Class AAA postseason.
The Lady Cavaliers have started the season 8-1 a year after advancing to the state semifinals. The team is talented and experienced with nine juniors and three seniors. Coach Rich Bland’s squad is fundamentally sound, defend tenaciously and put pressure on their opponents with their strong serving throughout the lineup. Like last year, the Lady Cavaliers play host to the GISA state championships on Oct. 25-26.
In the cross country world, the Region 2-AAAAA boys region team title looks like it will come down to Lakeside and Greenbrier once more. It is early, and I’m just going off results from the ninth annual NEGA Cross Country Championships on Aug. 24.
Region runners-up to Lakeside a year ago, Greenbrier’s boys took fifth in the championship division while Lakeside placed sixth.
Individually, Lakeside junior Christian Bowles was the class of the race, taking first in 16:26.79, almost 13 seconds ahead of his nearest competitor.
At the same venue in the varsity boys competition, Evans junior Justin Weegar, the region defending champion, took first (17:14.78) almost 18 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher.
By the end of the season it will be interesting to see who will be crowned region champion. It could be Weegar, Bowles or Logan Hughes and Jon Townsend from Greenbrier or a dark horse who hasn’t shown himself just yet.
In the girls championship division, the Lady Panthers showed they might make noise not just in the region but also in the state, finishing third.
Freshman Alyssa Hooker (20:40.73), senior Lara Way (21:03.30), sophomore Hannah Marionneaux (21:16.95) and senior Jasmine Payne (21:23.19) all recorded top-10 finishes.
At Augusta Prep, Tom Holodak’s squads got the season off to a flying start as both his boys and girls teams won their meet at the Loganville Christian Academy Invitational a week ago. Both teams are experienced, so strong finishes at GISA region and state meets would not be a shock.
It will be fun to see how things all shake out in the end.