On a breezy and beautiful day at Unicoi State Park in Helen, the Dawson County varsity boys and girls cross country teams both had successful days at the Region 7-3A Championship and earned spots at the Class 3A State Championship.
A trio of top-10 finishes by the girls team helped give them a second place overall finish, with Anna LeCave, Hayden Hand and Jules Phillips leading the way.
The boys team had a pair of top-10 finishes by Tyler Tangel and Bailey Swafford to help lead them to a third place team finish.
“I’m so proud of how the runners performed at the region meet. We knew we had to perform to advance,” head coach Jonathan Tinsley said. “We had a strong showing from all boys and girls runners from JV to varsity.”
(Article continues below)
The day’s events — which included the Region 8-4A championship earlier in the day — began for Dawson with the JV teams competing.
The Tigers showed their depth with three top-10 performances in the JV races — two by the boys team and one by the girls team.
Sophomore Alston Muilenburg led the JV Tigers with a quick start, eventually finishing as runner-up in the race with a time of 19:15. Just under a minute later, junior Chase Cofield finished sixth with a time of 20:13.
Daisy Sanchez had the best time for the JV girls team with a ninth-place finish of 24:14.
Once the varsity teams were warmed up, the boys took to the grass first.
Tangel led the charge for the boys team and would soon find himself in a tight group of runners from Pickens and Wesleyan.
In the final stretch of flat space before the finish line, Tangel made his mad dash to the finish, going side-by-side with Wesleyan’s Andrew Cook. Tangel would outlast Cook by three-tenths of a second to finish eighth overall with a time of 17:51.20.
Swafford secured a tenth-place finish after sprinting past Lumpkin County’s Sam Edwards by three seconds.
Cael Hand and Luke Lowe would finish 13th and 14th before Aaric Muilenburg finished 20th to round out the runners who counted toward the final score.
The girls team got out to a strong start, with the Dawson runners keeping close to each other early on.
But after the runners crossed Smith Bridge for a second time, LeCave picked up the pace and would eventually cross the finish line in sixth place with a time of 20:52.
Freshman Hayden Hand was not far behind, ending up in eighth place at 21:01. Phillips secured a ninth-place finish at 21:21.
Harper Dussouy finished 13th and Addison Smith ended up in 20th to wrap up the scoring for Dawson.
After the conclusion of the girls race, All-Region recognitions were given out to the top 14 finishers of each varsity race, with the top 7 of those receiving First Team honors.
While LeCave was the sole Dawson runner to get a place in the All-Region First Team, seven others received Second Team spots.
Hayden Hand, Phillips and Dussouy represented the girls team for All-Region Second Team, while Tangel, Swafford, Cael Hand and Lowe represented the boys.
The Dawson cross country teams will now move on to the Class 3A State Championship hosted by Carrollton High School on Saturday, Nov. 5, at 9:30 a.m.