Mike Burley went into the Georgia Independent Schools Association cross country state finals with confidence.
Augusta Prep girls cross-country team members are: Kathryn Yort (front row, from left) Megan Yu and Maryclaire Regan; Kathryn Peacock (back row, from left) Abby Alexander and Adrian Ash. The team won the state championship.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Burley thought his girls team had a shot to win the state title and his boys team could post a top five finish.
He was pleasantly surprised.
The Augusta Prep girls team won the 2004 state championship at the state meet in Stratford.
The boys finished second, well above Burley's and the team's expectations.
"Of course I'm thrilled at the way we finished," Burley said. "We had an unbelievable meet and I'm so proud of the teams."
Senior Abby Alexander finished second, a half-minute behind First Presbyterian Day School's Erin Colunga. Alexander was named All-State at the end of the meet.
"It is an honor to be named All-State," she said. "But it is more rewarding that we won the state title. As a senior, it means a lot to me."
Joining Alexander on the All-State team was freshman Kathryn Yort, who finished seventh.
"We have a lot of underclassmen that play key roles on the team," Alexander said. "We think that they can be good for a long time."
The future looks especially bright for eighth-grader Maryclaire Regan. Regan joined the team at Burley's request and finished with All-Region honors.
"She made a huge sacrifice to join this team," Burley said. "She would have had a good shot at winning the state championship as a middle schooler."
Sophomore Megan Yu, freshman Kathryn Peacock and senior Adrian Ash all finished in the top 20.
Burley maintains the boys' finish was more surprising than the girls'.
"We thought the girls could win the state title," he said. "We thought the boys would finish fourth or fifth. If we finished third, then we would be ecstatic. But then we finished second."
The boys were led by Chris Blanco who was named All-State after finishing 10th.
Blanco, a junior, ran cross country this year for the first time as a way to train for baseball.
"He came out of nowhere," Burley said. "He had a natural flowing stride and he just became the team's leader."
Blanco was followed by Andrew Cameron, Ryan Kuhar, Alexander Abate and Connor Mahoney in the top 20.
Prep finished well behind First Presbyterian Day School, which had the top five finishers. The Cavaliers finished second with consistent runners in the top 20. Other schools had runners finish ahead of Prep runners but didn't have consistent finishes by their teams.
"I'm proud of the team and what we accomplished," Burley said. "I'm kind of sad it is over.
"But there is always next year."
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