Area cross country teams get a chance to prepare for the postseason Saturday in the Columbia County Invitational at Harlem High School.
Girls cross country teams competed at Greenbrier in September of last year, the Columbia County Invitational will be held at Harlem High School on Saturday, with more than 10 schools participating.
Teams from Greenbrier, Lakeside, Evans and Harlem will take part in the event that will feature several high school and junior varsity teams from Georgia and South Carolina.
Greenbrier coach Katie Smallwood and Evans coach Mike Lennox are directing the event.
"My understanding is we'll have anywhere between 10 and 15 teams there," Lennox said. "Every year it gets a little bigger."
Last year, 13 teams participated in the CCI, with Heritage High School's girls team and Greenbrier's boys taking first place.
This year's meet comes at the end of the regular season for most cross country teams. With the Region 2-AAAA meet coming at Jones County in less than three weeks, the CCI gives local schools a chance to prepare.
"In some ways it's a good warm-up for the region, because I like to think that our best teams in the region are going to be in Columbia County," Lakeside coach Max Goodman said.
The race will take place at Harlem High School, where coach Willie Boston is preparing his Bulldogs.
"We're doing alright," Boston said. "We're growing and going through a development with some young kids this year."
Derek Clayton is a young Harlem runner who, Boston said, has a promising future ahead of him in cross country. Clayton will lead Harlem's charge on the boys side, while Lady Bulldog senior Belinda Smith leads the girls.
At Lakeside, Megan Yu, Andrea Sisson and Renee Reddington are serious contenders in girls competition. Sisson placed 18th in the event last season with a time of 22:57, while Reddington finished 24th. As a team, the girls finished sixth.
In boys competition, the Panthers bring Taylor Rigot, Brandon Tobias, Ben Valerio and Kyle Keenly to contend for first place.
Keenly finished 17th last year with a time of 18:50.
The Evans squad is young but promising, Lennox said. Freshman Elena Hubbard and junior Angela Griffin will lead a Lady Knights team that finished third last year at the CCI, with Griffin placing 11th individually.
On the boy's side, Evans sophomore Michael Oliver (38th last year) and junior Jay Washington, a newcomer to cross country, will lead the Knights charge.
Greenbrier's boys team lost four of its top five runners to graduation last year after finishing second in the state. However, five seniors, Kyle Kenrick, Bo Doran, Zach Sapp, Wesley Ryan and Aaron Garcia, have led the Wolfpack to a No. 7 ranking in the state this year. Sapp and Kenrick finished 10th and 11th, respectively, in last year's CCI as the team won first place.
Two Greenbrier girls, senior Bridget Lyons and sophomore Chelsea Maxwell, lead a squad with a No. 8 state ranking. Lyons (fourth) and Maxwell (sixth) led the team to a second-place finish in last year's CCI.
This year's CCI takes place Saturday at Harlem High School with the first race beginning at 9 a.m.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.