More than a few fans did a double-take at the Region 3-AAAA cross country meet on Saturday at Greenbrier High School. As the girl's race came to a close, it wasn't Lady Wolfpack top runner Chelsea Maxwell who came down the final stretch in the lead.
Instead Maxwell, who had dominated the field at the Columbia County Invitational two weeks early by more than 40 seconds, joined the rest of the runners in watching Evans' Elena Hubbard take first place.
"To be honest I was a little surprised when I saw the first runner coming around the corner was Elena," Evans first-year cross country coach Miranda Gilliland said. "I think it was a surprise to her, too. Chelsea is an amazing runner, but I expected Elena to do well. She 's worked hard and been very consistent all year. It was one of her best times."
Hubbard's time of 19:46 was good for first place by 17 seconds. She improved on her Columbia County Invitational time by more than half a minute.
The win not only gave her the title of region champion, it also helped the Lady Knights take second place as a team at the Region 3-AAAA meet and earn a spot at the Class AAAA state meet this weekend. Greenbrier's girls took first place as a team, while Statesboro took third place and Lakeside finished fourth.
The top four teams from each region advance to the state meet each year.
"I was very pleased that we're going back to state," Gilliland said. "We've been there before, and I like to call myself a realistic optimist. I don't expect too much considering the competition at state, but I expect the same consistency. Our two captains (seniors Holly Hess and Angela Griffin) have been incredible this year."
There were no surprises in the boy's race, where Greenbrier's Josh Sapp ran to a strong first-place finish. Sapp ran the five kilometers with a time of 16:14 and beat the rest of the field by 45 seconds.
As a team, Greenbrier (first place) will advance to the Class AAAA state meet this weekend along with second-place Statesboro, third-place Glynn Academy and fourth-place Lakeside.
The Class AAAA state meet for both boys and girls will take place on Saturday in Carrollton.
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