The Dawson County High School girl’s cross country team set a goal back in June to finish in the top four in the state. Mission accomplished.
Head Coach Brian DeRose and his Dawson County Lady Tiger cross country team finished number four in the state during last Saturday’s Class AA cross country championships at Carrollton High School.
The team was led by sophomore Maddie Walters.
Walters finished fifth individually with a time of 19:53.13.
She was passed at the line by two competitors. Walters spent the entire race in either second or third place, until the end.
“She ran according to the plan, as she has all season, and it paid off. Her goal was top five Saturday. I thought maybe she could squeeze in a third, but she was caught right at the line,” said DeRose about his star runner.
Senior Emily Beusse also ran a strong race coming in 18th out of the 191 runners on the hilly 3.1-mile course.
Beusse finished with a time of 21:09.73. DeRose commented about his senior:
“Emily had probably the best race of her career Saturday, culminating four years of hard work. She ran within four seconds of her PR (personal record).”
Winning the individual title was Sahara Fletcher of Westminster High School. Fletcher finished the race with a time of 19:02.86.
Westminster also won the team title with a low 23 points.
They placed five runners in the top 10 and finished runners first, second, fourth, seventh and ninth.
Dawson County was the highest ranking public school. The Lady Tigers finished behind Lovett (64 points) and Blessed Trinity (112 points). The Lady Tigers scored 160 points, just edging out North Oconee with 171 points.
“The reason this team is so strong is because of the depth. When one girl has an off day, another steps up. That is rare to find in a high school team, but it’s why we have been so successful this year. Last week, Morgan (Williams) stepped up, this week it was Rachael (Gloeckner). That is something that you really have no control over as a coach, but is one of the most important components of this sport. It’s the difference between cross country teams with good individual runners, and good cross country teams,” DeRose said.
Gloeckner crossed the finish line in 53rd place with a time of 23:29.74.
DeRose remarked about Gloeckner: “Rachael Gloeckner had the race of her career, running fifth man on the team. She really surprised me with her performance. I could tell she was focused when I saw her for the first time in the race. She was the key Saturday.
“All the girls ran with heart on Saturday,” added DeRose.
“Krista Morgan and Kerstin Hlinski both had strong performances Saturday as well. Krista and Kerstin are both very quiet, but always solid in races. I never have to worry about nerves getting to them,” DeRose said.
“This was definitely the highlight of my coaching career. Last year as the girls were cooling down after their eighth place state performance, I went to watch the awards to see what it was all about. I learned that the top four teams in the state was a pretty big deal. My goal was to get the girls on that podium. I didn’t think it would happen so quickly.”