Freshman Frankie Muldoon paced the Dawson County Lady Tigers cross country team to a fourth place team finish at the Class AAA state championship at Carrollton High School Nov. 7.
The Lady Tigers accumulated 116 team points, which led to team medals for Muldoon, Marley Hamby, Faith Sinclair, Bailey Cotter, Melanie Rimawi and Nicole Chumbley.
"Getting on the podium at the state meet is no easy feat and something I'd never experienced until yesterday. When I took over as head coach three years ago, one of the first things I did was have the teams sit down and develop a short and a long term goal for themselves. I remember that when they came back to me with their long term goals, a group of young girls, now our seniors, told me they wanted to stand on the podium at state before they graduated," said Head Coach Charles Beusse. "To see them be able to finally reach their goal, some of them in their last race ever, was a very emotional moment for everyone. All season we have known that podium was a real possibility this year, but we've just taken things one race at a time."
Dawson County and Decatur High School had fought back and forth throughout the year for fourth place in the state rankings. But on Saturday, the Lady Tigers beat Decatur by 91 points for fourth place overall. Decatur finished with 207 points.
Muldoon had a great race and finished individually in fifth place overall. The talented freshman covered the 3.1-mile course with a time of 21:23.
Teammate Marley Hamby also ran an excellent race with a 15th-place finish and a time of 22:33.
"Marley [Hamby] and Frankie [Muldoon] had excellent races on Saturday. I couldn't have asked for anything more from them. Frankie finished as the fifth fastest runner in the state, something that is no easy feat for a veteran runner, much less a freshman. The thing I've said all year about Frankie is that she's a fighter. I can throw her up against the best competition out there and it's not going to phase her. She's just one of those rare kids who have nerves of steel. She has been a huge asset to our team this year and she has a bright future ahead of her as a runner. With us losing some seniors this year, we will be looking to younger runners like Frankie to take more leadership roles going into next season.
"Marley (Hamby) also had an excellent race, placing 16th-overall. She (Hamby) went out yesterday with the tough task of splitting up the Hart County girls and she did just that. Marley is a leader and a true team player. She has improved greatly over the past season and I expect her to only continue to improve. These two young ladies are a huge reason we got to stand on the podium yesterday," he added.
The conditions of the course was miserable. Rain during the days preceding the state meet provided for horrible conditions with several runners, from other teams, slipping and falling during the race.
"The conditions were some of the toughest ever at a state meet in Georgia. As the day progressed, the course conditions only got worse with lots of tough, muddy areas. It impacted times significantly in all the races yesterday. However, it's not the first time we have experienced that this season. This is one of the worst cross country season's I can remember in terms of weather. In fact, running in bad conditions basically became the norm for us this season. Looking back, that definitely helped us yesterday because it allowed our runners to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation."
From the state runners, Beusse will graduate two seniors. Running in their last race were Faith Sinclair and fellow senior Melanie Rimawi.
Sinclair crossed the finish line in 23rd-place with a time of 23:21, while Rimawi finished in 48th place with a time of 25:06.
"Faith (Sinclair) was a cornerstone for our girls' team this season. She has matured over the past few years and served as a leader this season. She had the race of her life yesterday at state and she is a big part of why we stood on the podium yesterday. She is also a sought after college recruit and I expect to see her do well at the college level as a runner if she chooses that path for herself.
"Melanie (Rimawi) is one of the most positive athletes I have ever coached. She is an excellent runner and always gives it her all. She is the epitome of a "team player" and puts her teammates before herself in every situation. I will miss her greatly next season," Beusse said.
Also racing and getting team points for Dawson County were Bailey Cotter and Nicole Chumbley.
Cotter placed in 26th-place with a time of 23:29. Chumbley posted a time of 25:11 and a 51st-place finish.
"Both Bailey (Cotter) and Nicole (Chumbley) had excellent races yesterday and solidified our spot on the podium yesterday. They are all consistent in their racing and have been all season. They have been integral in our success this year," Beusse said.
The Lady Tigers will strive to get better next year. Despite graduating some talented seniors the team will have a solid core of runners returning. ]
"We will be losing some key runners next season due to graduation but I believe we can rebuild well. We have a strong junior varsity program and the middle school cross country program has really grown in the past year and looks to serve as a good development and feeder system for us. The key for next year will be the continued development of young runners as well as returning runners stepping up into leadership positions and continuing to maintain the expectation of success," Beusse said.