The Dawson County High School varsity cross country teams participated in the 2018 Coach Benson Double Dip Invitational at Marist High School Sept. 8 and faced off with championship caliber teams from across northeast Georgia.
According to its website, the Double Dip invitational has produced eight finalists in either the Foot Locker Nationals or the Nike Cross Nationals (both races designed to encourage national competition amongst high school cross country athletes) from seven different state programs.
With all seven of those programs participating in the race, it looked to be a tough day for the Tigers on the 4,920-meter course but both teams rose to the challenge. Each produced a runner that finished in the top three individually, and those performances led to a fifth-place finish overall for the men and an eighth-place finish overall for the women.
“Traveling to Marist gave us an opportunity to see some of the best competition from all classifications in the state,” Head Coach Charles Beusse said. “Anytime you can beat teams ranked in the top 10 for 6A and 7A, you know you have a pretty decent team.”
Leading the way for the boys was senior Ben McGinnis. His time of 17:42:20 placed him third individually and was only 9 seconds off the pace set by the day’s winner, Lief Andersen of Marist.
“McGinnis had a career breakout day. He came out of nowhere and placed third overall in the race out of 169 runners in the race,” Beusse said. “I was very proud to see him compete so well. He has improved tremendously over the past year and is a huge part of the boy's team success over the past two seasons.”
Finishing just outside of the top 10 in the 11th spot, senior Cody Wood turned in another solid time for the Tigers and an improved performance from last week’s race at Chestatee by the three through seven positions of the team wrapped up a strong race for the unit.
Identified prior to the race as one of five girls who could win, Tigers senior Frankie Muldoon almost pulled it off by staying hot on the heels of the eventual winner, Madelynne Cadeau of South Forsyth, and posting a blistering second place time of 19:52.49.
“Frankie Muldoon had a tremendous race for us and placed second overall out of 155 runners,” Beusse said. “Frankie is one of the strongest runners in all of AAA and yesterday she proved that her dominance isn't just limited to AAA. She raced some of the best from all classifications and proved that she can hang with anyone.”
Despite finishing the race with an overall team average time of 22:55.55, the stiff competition across the field of runners kept the remaining Dawson runners from breaking away from the pack and the team’s overall score dropped them into eighth place for the day.
“I saw positive improvement from our girls’ team as a whole,” Beusse said. “While gaps do exist that we need to close, we are improving. I thought we looked much stronger than Chestatee and are making gains.”
The teams will be travelling to Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville to participate in the Riverside XC Invitational on Sept. 18.