With a core group of veteran runners and a few new faces the Dawson County cross-country team opened the 2019 season on Aug. 17 at the annual Pickens Preview 5K on the campus of Pickens County High School.
Fifteen north Georgia schools fielded over 100 runners on a course that was mostly flat, but with some short, challenging hills and a tunnel. Terrain varied and included grass, asphalt, gravel road, dirt, and cement sidewalk.
Senior Ben McGinnis set the pace for the boys’ field as he captured his first victory of the season with a time of 16.24.72. Fellow senior Colin Kilgore, in his first year with the Tigers, clocked in at 16:52.05 for a sixth-place finish and the two combined propelled Dawson County to a fourth-place team finish in their debut race.
Later in the morning, senior Jenna LeCours led a tightly grouped pack of Lady Tigers across the finish line with her time of 23:41.39, followed closely by Evion Reinhardt at 23:57.16 placing both girls squarely in the middle of the pack and leading the Lady Tigers to an eleventh-place finish overall.
Both varsity squads entered the race determined to rebuild from a disappointing finish to last year’s season when the teams fell just short in regionals and “had a less than stellar state performance” according to Head Coach Charles Beusse.
“They all seem more motivated than ever before and that's what it will take for them to get back on top,” Beusse said. “We have some great competition this year in 7-AAA and these guys are going to need to work hard to be region champions again.”
“Overall, we are in good shape for this point in the year,” Beusse continued. “But we will need to see some runners turn a corner this season and I feel we have many who are ready to do that.”
The teams will be back on the course for the second race of the season, the North Hall Invitational, Sept. 5 at North Hall High School.