The Dawson County cross country running teams were in action twice last week as they travelled to Gainesville for the Riverside NE Ga. XC Classic on Sept. 18 and then to Cartersville to race in the Wingfoot XC Classic on Sept. 22.
With outstanding performance across the board both the boys’ and girls’ varsity teams brought home first place hardware from Riverside as well as posting top 10 finishes at Wingfoot.
“Most of all what I saw today was a team rather than simply individuals. I saw our runners pushing through tough conditions not for themselves but for their team,” said Head Coach Charles Beusse. “That's the key to success and something I was pleased to see. When the kids love their teammates and love what they are doing, that's when special things happen.”
Led by senior Cody Wood, who won the individual event completing the race with a time of 16:46, the boys’ cross country runners put in an impressive performance at the fourth annual Riverside Classic.
Fellow seniors Ben McGinnis and Nico Poston also finished in the top five overall coming in at second (17:16) and fifth (17:37) respectively.
Rounding out the scoring for the team were Wiley Dennis, finishing ninth overall, and Luke Hamby, who captured the 15th spot. The team total of 32 was more than enough to capture first place on the day.
A refereeing decision during the race shortened the girl’s course to only four kilometers which, according to Beusse, resulted in faster times overall but did nothing to change the level of competition.
“As a whole, the difference wasn't significant,” Beusse said. “Most regular season races are designed to gain the experience needed for region and state, so we didn't concern ourselves too terribly with the 4k distance on Tuesday.”
Senior Frankie Muldoon set the pace for the Lady Tigers with an overall time of 15:25 to capture her third first place finish of the season.
Finishing 11th overall, Jenna Lecours led the remainder of the Dawson County runners across the line as Evion Reinhardt, Molly Meunchen and Celine Sapp all turned in personal best times to give the Tigers their first team win.
The Wingfoot Classic on Sept. 22 was sponsored by the Atlanta Track Club and featured 75 schools from across the state of Georgia as well as teams representing almost every state in the Southeastern United States.
Forty of those teams participated in the Men’s 5K and, once again led by Wood, who finished eighth, and McGinnis, who finished 10th, the Dawson County Tigers captured second place falling only a handful of points shy of the title which was won by Richmond Hill.
“I was very pleased with how well those two boys performed on a high-level stage. They didn't let the atmosphere or competition level faze them at all,” Beusse said. “They went out and did their job exactly the way we needed them to.”
For the first time in her career Muldoon did not lead the Lady Tigers in the Women’s 5K. Instead she participated in the Wingfoot Championship XC Classic. The Championship Classic is an invitation-only event and features some of the highest caliber runners in the southeast.
Muldoon was extended an invitation based on her performance over the season so far, and her time of 19:35.8 placed her 28 out of 244 runners.
“While not the result she hoped for, I believe the high level of competition from girls in higher classifications and other states served her well in preparing mentally for the races to come,” Beusse said.
Led by Lecours time of 22:38, the team stayed tightly together through the course, and put out a top-10 performance capturing ninth place out of 34 teams in the competition.
“As the race unfolded the girls worked well together to move through the field and gain positioning. As a whole, it was the best race I have seen from our girls thus far,” Beusse said. “They are learning to push themselves and be competitors.”
The Dawson County cross country teams will travel to the Runners Fit Mountain Invitational in Unicoi State Park in Helen on Oct. 4.