Heading into the state meet, Augusta Prep cross country coach Tom Holodak knew he had arguably the top runner on the girls' side of the Georgia Independent School Association's AAA classification.
What he didn't know before Saturday's meet in Macon, Ga., was that Amanda Murphy's teammates were all in for the race of their lives.
"Everyone ran their career best except Amanda, who won. She blew everyone away," Holodak said. "With everyone having their personal best, that's what really solidified everything for us."
Augusta Prep won the girls' championship for the fourth time in the program's history and the first time since 2008, with 43 points to Mount De Sales' 72. The Cavaliers also won in 2002 and 2004.
Murphy, a sophomore, won by 53 seconds. She finished in 19 minutes, 26 seconds, while Bulloch Academy's Ashley Burke was second in 20:19.
Maggie McLeod was fourth in 20:44, Jodie Holodak was seventh in 20:59, Sydney Isaac was 14th in 21:55 and Alexis Baker was 17th in 22:05.
Baker's finish had just as much importance as Murphy's, Tom Holodak said. It not only gave Augusta Prep the depth it needed to win, but it also was a full 90 seconds better than her personal best this year.
"When that happened, we knew we had a very, very good chance of pulling it off," Holodak said.
Of the Cavaliers' 10 runners, eight are freshmen or sophomores.
On the boys' side, Mount de Sales won with 22 points, and Augusta Prep came in second with 71.
Individually for the Cavaliers, counting scores were Khaled Elchoufi (18:09) in 11th, Booker Regan (18:18) in 14th, Eric Brown (18:19) in 15th, Sam Fox (18:29) in 17th, and Colin Beazley (18:37) in 22nd.
"It was just a great day for the entire program," Holodak said.
Panthers boys, girls win at regionals
Lakeside cross country coach Jerry Meitin wasn't sure which was more odd from Saturday's Region 2-AAAA meet in Statesboro, Ga.
The Panthers' girls squad scored a perfect 15 points, as Lakeside's top five runners finished ahead of the rest of the pack. Lakeside's and Greenbrier's boys teams scored identical totals, with the Panthers earning the championship via tiebreaker based on the sixth runner's time.
"Our girls were healthy and ran spectacular, and the guys escaped," Meitin said. "Greenbrier deserved a lot of credit. They ran really well, and I thought they had beaten us."
Both boys squads finished with 37 points, and Evans was third with 80. The top four teams in the region advanced to Saturday's Class AAAA state meet in Carrollton, Ga.
Greenbrier opened strong, as Chris Wilder took the individual title in 16:12 and Brandon Coombs took second in 16:18.
"I talked to (Wilder) after the race, and he was like, 'Well, I have to admit there were times I wasn't sure how it was going to come out at the end,'" Greenbrier coach Kati Smallwood said. "He said other people were falling back and he was still feeling strong.
"He just really wanted it, especially when Sid (Vaughn) beat him at Blanchard Woods."
Smallwood was referring to the ASU Jaguar Invitational, when Lakeside's Vaughn broke the course record set by Wilder earlier in the season.
On Saturday, Vaughn finished fourth in 16:39 behind third-place finisher Daniel Broadhead, of Wayne County. Evans' top finisher was Iva Fein, who was 10th at 17:39.
On the girls' side, Lakeside dominated, followed by Evans with 74 points. Richmond Hill (108) was third, followed by Greenbrier (111) in fourth.
Anna Bowles won the region championship for the second year in a row. She ran a time of 18:38. Her teammates filled out the top five: Katie Townsend in 18:45, Sarah Bowles in 19:05, Erin Payne in 20:22 and Jasmine Payne in 20:32.
Gabby Lesieur led the way for Greenbrier. She was sixth at 20:33, followed by Lakeside's Jenny Lind (20:43) in seventh.
For Evans, Jackie Ramos (20:51), Alyssa Mullikin (21:07) and Julia Pak (21:08) finished eighth through 10th.
Grovetown runner earns region title
Abigail Soderling already held Grovetown's girls school record in the 5K. On Saturday, the sophomore added another honor, winning the Region 3-AAA Meet at Blanchard Woods Park.
Soderling finished in 23:16 to beat runner-up Christy Darracott, of Westside, by eight seconds.
Grovetown did not have enough runners to field a full team. The championship went to Washington County with 25 points, and Westside finished second with 76.
On the boys' side, Grovetown was eighth with 194 points behind champion Washington County (30). Hephzibah was the runner-up with 42 points.
Individually, Richard Bragg led the way for the Warriors. He finished 21st at 20:15.
Lions end season at state competition
Augusta Christian cross country's season finale came Saturday in the South Carolina Independent School Association Class AAA State Meet in Columbia.
Kelsey Dingle and Annie Cave led the way for the Augusta Christian girls squad. Dingle finished 18th in 21:38, and Annie Cave was 22nd in 21:51.
The girls team finished eighth with 200 points. Ashley Hall took the team championship with 55 points, followed by Pinewood Prep (72) in second and Cardinal Newman (85) in third.
In the boys' race, Augusta Christian was 12th overall with 327 points. The champion was Porter-Gaud with 23 points.
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