Squads from Augusta Christian School and Augusta Preparatory Day School competed in Georgia Independent Schools Association playoff action last week, and the Columbia County athletes finished their fall season with a flourish.
Augusta Christian's Sarah Madebach won the Georgia Independent Schools Association individual state title in girls cross country for the second year in a row.
At the GISA state cross country meet Saturday in Macon, the Augusta Prep girls captured their first title, running past Augusta Christian by a score of 50-57.
"Last year we took second, and being so close motivated them to be No. 1 this year," Augusta Prep coach Mike Burley said. "They just put in a tremendous effort, led by senior captain Kristen Hudson."
In the individual race for state honors, AC's Sarah Madebach defended her cross country title by edging Augusta Prep's Abby Alexander. Madebach finished the difficult 3.1-mile course in 21:21, and Alexander posted 21:27.
"Abby has beaten me every time we ran this year, so I din't think I was going to win," Madebach said. "She was very strong on the hills, but I was just determined to try to catch her. Being next to her just gave me the extra energy to get past her at the finish line."
Other county finishers in the top 20 were: 3. Rebekah Madebach (AC); 5. Rebecca Shay (AP); 6. Annie Kim (AC); 11. Kristen Hudson (AP); 15. Adrian Ash (AP); 17. Sarah Beth McKinney (AC); 18. Cary Gibson (AP).
"Our two schools have really made a tremendous statement in girls cross country," Burley said. "Augusta Christian and Augusta Prep had nine of the top 20 finishers, and five of the top six!"
Meanwhile, the Augusta Prep boys finished in sixth place with 139 points. The defending state champions struggled on the hilly course, as senior Ashwin Rajendra was the only Prep runner to crack the top 10.
"We were really primed for this meet. I'm not really sure what happened," Burley said. "We've been plagued the last two weeks with injuries and sickness, and I guess I underestimated that impact on our performance."
The Augusta Prep soccer team also closed a solid season on a down note last week. The Cavaliers surged to a 3-1 lead in a first-round GISA state playoff match Thursday at Blanchard Field, but Riverside Military Academy came back to take a 4-3 victory. Augusta Prep finished the season with an 11-4 record.
The Augusta Prep volleyball team fared a bit better last week, and so did Lady Cavaliers coach Rich Bland - within 48 hours, he and his wife had a new baby girl, and the Lady Cavs finished second at the GISA state tournament in Marietta.
"I have two things to be very proud of," Bland said. "How many people can be that lucky?"
Augusta Prep advanced through early-round play without a loss, to set up a battle with top-ranked North Cobb Christian High School. Prep issued a challenge with an win in game one, but North Cobb rallied to take the best-of-five match.
"The girls played the best I've ever seen them play," Bland said. "They fought as a team and showed the crowd they were not going to lie down for anyone."
The loss set up a must-win match against Calvary Christian, and Augusta Prep posted a 3-0 win that put the Lady Cavaliers in the state finals. North Cobb topped Prep 3-1 to claim the championship.
Along with the second-place trophy, Augusta Prep earned some individual honors, as Coles Hull, Natalie Hamilton and Stevie Odom were named to the All-State squad.
Coach Bland praised the six seniors that formed the nucleus of his team - Coles Hull, Stevie Odom, Caitlin Burley, Stephanie Minor and Lauren Gibbs. "Their leadership and outstanding play carried the squad through the season, and to the championship game."
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