For every season, there is a purpose. For Columbia County's high school athletic teams, fall and spring were times to excel, while winter was less than heavenly.
There were exceptions, but by and large, the county's six prep programs started and finished well during the 2002-3 school year and struggled through some lean times in between.
Following is a breakdown of each athletic season, with some background on team and individual performances that accounted for each high school's point production.
Greenbrier - 110
Augusta Prep - 105
Abbie Alexander (left) and Sarah Madebach keep pace with each other through the first lap of a cross country meet.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Augusta Christian - 65
Lakeside - 30
Evans - 20
The Brierpatch proved to be fertile ground in the fall, as Greenbrier's cross country, volleyball and softball teams accumulated 110 points to top all Columbia County high schools.
Coach Kati Smallwood's runners cruised to cross-country titles in both boys and girls divisions, Garrett Black coached the Lady Wolfpack to a Region 3-AAAA softball championship, and Coach Debbie Born led the Greenbrier volleyball squad to the best record in the county and to the Class AAAA state semifinals.
Augusta Prep almost caught Greenbrier, thanks to a Class AAA Georgia Independent School state cross country title by the Lady Cavaliers. Augusta Prep's boys and girls earned 65 points in cross country, the Prep volleyball team added a second-place finish at state, and the Cavaliers picked up an additional 10 points in soccer, to lift Prep's fall total to 105 points.
Lakeside - 90
Augusta Christian - 30
Evans - 25
Greenbrier - 20
Augusta Prep - 15
Harlem - 10
Randy Hill didn't taste victory during his first season as Lakeside's head football coach last fall, but winter brought happier times for the veteran wrestling coach.
The Lakeside wrestling team piled up 50 points with a region title, three individual region championships, the best in-county record, and, a Class AAAA state title by senior Justin Otis.
As it turned out, several Lakeside squads warmed up during the winter months and boosted their school to the top in Columbia County. The Lakeside swim teams stroked past all local opponents, and the Lady Panthers posted the best basketball record among county teams.
Other than the exploits at Blue Ridge Drive, most county prep teams were left out in the cold. The Augusta Christian Lions won a region title in basketball and had the best record in Columbia County, but AC still languished 60 points behind Lakeside's 90-point total.
Augusta Christian - 210
Augusta Prep - 135
Greenbrier - 125
Lakeside - 115
Evans - 115
Harlem - 40
Spring was the time for titles in Columbia County, and those performances made each school's point totals soar.
Augusta Christian's total really shot through the roof in track and field, which is why AC finished atop the heap in Columbia County.
Rebekah Madebach captured two GISA state track titles, and Sarah Madebach added a third state track crown for the Lady Lions. Sarah also picked up points with a runner-up finish at the state track-and-field meet, as did AC's Annie Kim.
The Madebachs also combined for three individual region titles in track, Crystin Cromer won the region discus crown.
On the boys side, Brandon Ford was second in the state triple-jump, Cole Rabun was second at state in the 200, and the Lions added eight more individual region track titles, plus a state title in the 400-meter relay, to garner a whopping 60 points.
The Augusta Christian boys and girls teams seized Region 3-AAA track titles, and AC athletes also swung a mean racket in tennis. Behind the strength of team titles in region and state competition, the Lions racked up 60 points on the court.
Every AC ace proved crucial in the overall spring-sports ranking in Columbia County, because Augusta Prep's golf team also had a few aces up their sleeves.
The Cavaliers cruised to the Region 4-AAA championship, and the team went on to take the state title as well. Those showings, along with individual medalist honors at region and state, plus the best record in the county, gave Augusta Prep 60 points on the links.
With solid production from its tennis teams and girls soccer squad, Augusta Prep made up ground on local rival Augusta Christian, but AC took top honors in the spring, thanks in part to a region title and state berth by the Lions in baseball.
Greenbrier, meanwhile, was on top of its game this spring.
Lady Wolfpack junior Tesha Thurmond aided the cause with a state title in discus, a second-place finish at state in shot, and region titles in both events. Also, the Greenbrier girls notched a region title in track.
Greenbrier's soccer teams both won region titles, and the Pack took the Region 3-AAA crown in baseball.
The Lady Wolfpack tennis team added some points, but not quite enough to give Greenbrier local bragging rights for the year - the Lady Pack placed second in region (five points), earned a state-playoff berth (five points) and advanced to the Class AAAA state semifinals (10 points).
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