Comets were flying across the Harlem High School campus Saturday, and you did't need a telescope to see them.
But the South Gwinnett Comets left their opponents so far behind in the Columbia County Invitational cross country meet, runners from opposing teams required binoculars to see them cross the finish line.
Greenbrier High School's Miguel Mota finished sixth in Columbia County Invitational's five-kilometer race, setting a school record with his time of 17:35.
Photo by Mike Howell
South Gwinnett took advantage of perfect weather conditions to post a perfect score of 15 and run away with the eight-team boys' event.
In cross country meets, teams vie for the lowest point total based on five runners, with one point for a first-place finish, two for second and so on.
The Comets swept the top five places, earning a perfect score. Greenbrier finished in second place with 41 points.
''A perfect score is relatively rare. The times they ran were outstanding,'' Greenbrier coach Kati Smallwood said. ''Usually you only see that in meets where there are two or three teams, but there were eight here today, so it was an incredible thing to do. I think that's definitely a reason why our kids ran such good times. We had some people out there to focus on and run with.''
South Gwinnett's Grant Eichenlaab took first place, and his time of 15:55 set a new record on Harlem's 5-kilometer course.
Greenbrier freshman Miguel Mota toured the course in 17:35 to shatter the Wolfpack's school record. He finished sixth, beating everyone but the South Gwinnett speedsters.
Wolfpack runners Boston Blake (seventh, 18:08), Pat Harmon (eighth, 18:19), David Quigley (ninth, 18:25), David Zampini (11th, 18:39) and Ty Taylor (13th, 18:49) also had strong showings.
Mota didn't mind tailing the Comets. In fact, he gives them credit for his Greenbrier record.
''They were my motivation,'' said Mota, who chased South Gwinnett's Taylor England to the wire. ''They just came as a team and took it all. I thought that was great.''
Lakeside's Ben Roth ran a time of 18:52 to finish 15th and earn a medal. Harlem's top runner was Chris Neal (17th, 18:57), while Ryan Smith (27th, 19:59) led Evans High School.
Greenbrier sophomore Addison Price finished second in the girls' meet, and her time of 20:57 helped the Lady Wolfpack place second with 47 points. South Gwinnett won with 40. Greenbrier's Kaycee Quarles (fourth, 21:45) and Blaire Peters (fifth, 21:57) posted top five finishes, while Samantha Hardy (23:33) was 11th.
South Gwinnett's Katie Almond ran a 19:52 to take first place.
The Lakeside Lady Panthers totaled 69 points to finish third in the team standings, and the school placed three individuals in the top 13: Jessica Zinskie Lauren Haynes and Sara Cermenaro.
Lakeside Middle School's Bailey Mahoney ran a 20:46 to win the junior varsity girls' meet.
Lakeside coach Bill Richey was satisfied with the Lady Panthers' showing.
''The girls have definitely improved this year. They've got a shot at going to state,'' said Richey, who admitted that rival Greenbrier still has the upper hand in this month's Region 3-AAAA meet, even against the Lakeside boys, who are defending region champions.
''Kati Smallwood has the program in Columbia County, That's what everyone else is striving to do,'' Richey said. ''Her kids are really dedicated and that's what we're trying to get at Lakeside.''
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