By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Boys Runner of the Year: North Hall's Witt Nix
1216boysrunner1
Witt Nix, of North Hall, is the Times All Area Boys Runner of the Year. - photo by Tom Reed


Girls Runner of the Year:White County's Jenna Gearing

Cross Country Coach of the Year: Riverside's Jim Myers

All Area Cross Country First Team

Girls

Emma Garrison
Union County
Freshman
Notable: Region 8-AA champ; State champ; PR: 19:22

Jenna Gearing
White County
Freshman
Notable: Region 7-AAA champ (17:43); State champ

Tori Mullinax
Chestatee
Senior
Notable: 2nd in 8-AAAA; 16th at state; 3rd at Hall County; PR: 19:36

Victoria Rogers
North Hall
Senior
Notable: 2nd at 7-AAA; 5th at state; three straight Hall County titles; PR: 19:35

Ansley Vardeman
Towns County
Junior
Notable: Region 8-A champ; State champ; PR: 21:33

Cassie Ward
Flowery Branch
Sophomore
Notable: 2nd at 8-AAAAA; 10th at state; PR: 19:17

Boys

Nick Ashmead
Flowery Branch
Junior
Notable: 4th at 8-AAAAA; 14th at state; PR: 15:53

Taylor Fiorello
Flowery Branch
Junior
Notable: 3rd at 8-AAAAA; 16th at state; PR: 16:11

Tucker LoCicero
North Hall
Senior
Notable: 2nd at 7-AAA; 28th at state; PR: 16:17

Witt Nix
North Hall
Senior
Notable: Region 7-AAA champ; 4th at state;
PR: 15:54

Bryce Schuebert
North Hall
Sophomore
Notable: 3rd at 7-AAA; 8th at state; PR: 16:23

Jeremy Webb
Union County
Senior
Notable: Region 8-AA champ; 5th at state; PR: 16:30

Second team

Girls

Reese Bowles
Jefferson
Junior
Notable: Second at 8-AA; 15th at state; PR 20:02

Makayla Ellis
North Hall
Sophomore
Notable: 6th at 7-AAA; 6th at state; PR: 20:28

Sara Beth English
Chestatee
Junior
Notable: Region 8-AAAA champ; 19th at state; 2nd at Hall County; PR: 19:15
Lauren Kirk
Flowery Branch
Sophomore
Notable: 4th at 8-AAAAA; 18th at state; PR: 19:49

Kristen Mitchell
White County
Sophomore
Notable: Third at 7-AAA (20:02); ninth at state

Ryan Sharry
West Hall
Senior
Notable: Fourth at 7-AAA; 24th at state; PR: 19:04

Boys

Seth Chapman
North Hall
Sophomore
Notable: Fourth at 7-AAA; 19th at state; PR: 16:44

Zack Hill
North Hall
Junior
Notable: Eighth at 7-AAA; 17th at state; PR: 16:35

Grant Hoffman
Riverside
Sophomore
Notable: Third at 8-AA; 14th at state; PR: 16:49

Miguel Martinez
Flowery Branch
Sophomore
Notable: 10th at 8-AAAAA; 19th at state; PR: 16:31

Jake Shewbert
Flowery Branch
Freshman
Notable: Fifth at 8-AAAAA; 17th at state; PR: 16:45

Dustin Snyder
Lakeview
Junior
Notable: 16th at 8-A; 17th at state; PR: 16:29

Honorbale mention

Girls

Breanna Fair    Fr.    Gainesville
Kaitlyn Gearing    Jr.    White County
Sara Hayes    Jr.    Gainesville
JaNae Holloway    Fr.    Lumpkin County
Taylor Long    Sr.    West Hall
Katie McDowell    Sr.    North Hall
Sierra Nichols    So.    Towns County
Megan Norris    So.    White County
Celeste Norton    Fr.    Lumpkin County
Sinead O’Bryant    Fr.    White County
Lisa Vences    Sr.    Johnson
Caitlin Sheffield    Jr.    Towns County
Rachel Todd    So.    Union County
Taylor Vardeman    Jr.    Towns County

Boys

Alex Bache    Sr.    Chestatee
Logan Brock    Fr.    Chestatee
Lewis Brooks    So.    Lakeview
Taylor Calderone    Sr.    Riverside
Luis Castaneda    Jr.    Johnson
Jack Carnes    So.    Chestatee
Jason Dang    Jr.    Chestatee
Jose Diaz    So.    Banks County
Tristin Duckworth    Fr.    Lumpkin County
John Gagnon    Sr.    Habersham Central
Edgar Guerrero    Sr.    Chestatee
Jorge Hernandez    Sr.    Johnson
Lexx Joya    So.    Riverside
Alex Longoria    Sr.    Gainesville
Quintin Miles    So.    North Hall
Christopher Oster    Sr.    Riverside
Tanner Peacock    So.    Gainesville
Tuan Pham    Sr.    Banks County
Bailey Pless    Jr.    North Hall
Jose Reyes-Lavalee    Sr.    Chestatee
Jose Rodriguez    So.    Commerce
Bradley Smith    Sr.    Towns County
Dalton Snyder    Jr.    Lakeview
Junior Suarez    Fr.    Johnson
Austin Thompson    So.    White County
Bart Velasquez    Sr.    Chestatee
Drew Wright    So.    Gainesville

Witt Nix wasn’t always in line to be the top cross country runner at one of the state’s best programs in North Hall.

He spent his entire freshman season on the junior varsity and only moved up to varsity at the tail end of his sophomore season, when he finally rose into the top seven for the region and state meets.

Even when he started his senior season as North Hall’s new No. 1 runner, he was quick to admit that he wasn’t at the same level as the past greats, like Brandon Lawson, Ty McCormack or the runner who got him to focus on the sport, Cody Barger.

There is one attribute that Trojans coach Drew Rogers attests nobody has been better at than Nix: How hard he works.

“He’s not maybe as gifted as some of the others runners we’ve had,” Rogers said. “But nobody could outwork Witt.”

And while the senior may have missed out on his top goal, a team state title, Nix led the team to a third overall finish at the Class AAA state meet, finishing fourth individually with a time of 16 minutes and 46 seconds in Carrollton, after crushing the field to win the Region 7-AAA meet.

For his efforts, Nix is The Times Cross Country Boys Runner of the Year.

While he may not have always been looked at as a future cross country star, Nix has been running for most of his life.

“I’ve been running with my dad since I was 8,” Nix said. “At first he was pretty much dragging me along — he would always have to coax me to be ready for the Peachtree.”

Eventually Nix found satisfaction in running, and his reason is simple.

“I get to see all the hard work I put in directly pay off,” he said. “If you do the work you get faster.”

So Nix worked at it, and kept improving. He joined the cross country program in the seventh grade, but was still just 12th on the team when he began his sophomore year, meaning a second stint on the junior varsity.

But he worked his way up into the top seven, and by his junior season he had secured himself as the No. 3 runner behind seniors Brandon Lawson and Luis Gonzalez.

He entered his senior season as the No. 1 runner, but more importantly as the team captain — no missed day of practice by a fellow runner escaped his attention.

“He was our team captain. I can’t think of a top guy missing practice all year long, but I remember one guy missed a Sunday and that’s all you heard about for two weeks, that he shouldn’t be tired because he took a day off,” Rogers said. “It was all good natured, of course, but it worked.”

With Nix, Tucker LoCicero and Bryce Schuebert already known quantities coming into the season, Rogers said that Nix worked on getting the other runners up to par so that the Trojans could have a shot at the team state title.

“I wanted to be one of the top two in the state and I really wanted the team championship, but St. Pius was incredible on that day, and that wasn’t going to happen,” Nix said of the state finish.

At least he has a chance to get back to a state meet before he tries his hand at running in college. Nix, who ran the 800-meter and 1600 last year in track, plans to run the mile and two-mile this season.

In fact, it was the simple fact of competing in track his sophomore year that sealed his fate as a runner. He had been deciding between track and soccer for the spring, but he said Barger, the 2010 state cross country champ, convinced him to stick with running in all seasons.

“He said if I put in the work, I’d see results,” Nix remembered.

Barger was right. Nix was the top runner at one of the state’s top programs for his senior season, running a 15:55 at the region meet and keeping his competitiveness through meets and practice.

“He wasn’t going to lose to one of his teammates,” Rogers said. “It’s really just his hard work and determination. He doesn’t have great speed, but when he gets to the end of the race, he’s going to win it or die trying. He was not going to give away a race.

“He’s one of these kids that shows that if you can put in the hard work, you’re going to be successful.”

Regional events