There were major achievements, and one big shock, last weekend at the Georgia Independent School Association state cross country championships in Forsyth, Ga.
David Bell (right) holds the team cross country trophy that the Augusta Prep team earned over the weekend. His teammates are: Ashwin Rajendra (front, from left), Watson Folk, Alex Crean, and Clint Luckey; Aaron Crais (back, from left) Ryan Kuhar and David Levine. Coach Mike Burley is in back.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Augusta Preparatory Day School boys topped a 31-team field in the Saturday meet at Monroe County Park. The Cavaliers won the all-classification state championship by outdistancing defending champion Central Fellowship 46-74, earning Prep's first-ever team title in cross country.
''Winning state was a goal. I thought we had good enough runners. It was just a matter of the boys believing it," Augusta Prep coach Mike Burley said. ''After homecoming, when the boys ran so well, they started to believe they could do it."
Ashwin Rajendra ( 3rd place, 18:03), David Bell (4th, 18:11) and Alex Crean (5th, 18:18) paced Prep on the hilly, 5,000-meter course, and each runner earned GISA all-state honors. Other Augusta Prep finishers were Aaron Crais (16th), Clint Luckey (18th), Ryan Kuhar (25th) and David Levine (59th).
''We didn't just win state, we dominated," Rajendra said.
The Cavaliers swept the Region 4-AAA meet on Oct. 15, taking the top six places, so winning the state title wasn't out of the blue. Still, the team's best previous finish at the state meet was fifth, so the Cavaliers opened some eyes last weekend.
''We trained hard and kind of shocked some people who didn't know who we are," Prep senior David Bell said. Rajendra added, ''Cross Country is becoming cool at our school now."
Augusta Prep finished second in the girls' competition, and bested a local rival: after losing to the Augusta Christian girls in every meet this season, the Lady Cavaliers edged the Lady Lions by three points at state.
Augusta Christian won the 2001 state title, cruised through the Region 4-AAA meet on Oct. 15 at Augusta Prep, and had not lost to a GISA squad in 2002.
''The best thing wasn't so much beating Augusta Christian, it was the girls being on that winner's stand receiving the runner-up trophy," Burley said. ''At the beginning of the season, their mind-set was not like the boys. They were just out here having fun."
Augusta Prep freshman Abby Alexander led the way, finishing fourth with a time of 20:26. Other Lady Cavalier finishers were Kristen Hudson (16th), Cary Gibson (18th), Adrian Ash (25th), Anna Alexander (32nd) and Megan Craig (50th).
Central Fellowship totaled 64 points to win the girls' championship. Augusta Prep scored 95, and AC was at 98.
Augusta Christian wasn't able to defend its state title, but AC received some consolation, as sophomore sisters Sarah and Rebekah Madebach finished 1-2 in the individual race. Sarah posted a time of 19:46 and Rebekah was at 21:13.
''That was a fantastic performance by those two girls. They're amazing," Burley said of the AC twins. Augusta Christian's Annie Kim finished sixth.
Augusta Prep eighth-grader Watson Folk ran 2.1 miles in a time of 13:21 to take first place in the Junior Varsity Boys Individual Championship.
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