Flowery Branch High’s wait for a state title is over.
The Falcons boys cross country team placed its top five runners all under the 17-minute mark to grab the Class AAA state title Saturday at Carrollton High.
The Falcons (66 points) turned it into a battle of Hall County’s best, finishing ahead of second place North Hall (92).
The state title marks the first sports state championship in the seven-years since Flowery Branch opened its doors in 2002.
"I’m so proud of this team," Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells said. "To be able to coach this team and bring home this state title back to Hall County is a remarkable feeling."
Daniel Martinez (16 minutes, 32 seconds) was the leader for the Falcons, finishing eighth overall. David Farist (16:40) placed 11th, Maurice Riden (16:45) finished 13th, Kenny Slavik (16:49) took 16th and Jeffrey Velez (16:59) was 24th overall.
Martinez was one of five Region 7-AAA runners to place in the top 10 overall. Pickens’ Tyler Dunn (16:22) took fourth overall, followed by a trio of North Hall runners, Tyler McCormack (16:22) took fifth, Cody Barger (16:34) placed ninth and Nolan Clark (16:37) finished 10th.
Sorrells said the key to the race for the Falcons was to pack together well during the race. That enabled the five runners to all come in under the benchmark time of 17:00.
"We knew North Hall would be very good up front," Sorrells said. "But our pack stayed together, even though they were a little more spread out."
Flowery Branch’s boys state title was an improvement over last season’s third place spot at state. West Hall finished fourth in 2007. Hall County continues its strong presence in cross country.
North Hall’s boys won the Class AAA state title in 2006.
The Flowery Branch girls finished seventh overall. Kiara Woods (19:04) finished with a new personal best and school record (19:04) to earn second place overall. Eileen Devico earned 18th with a time of 20:41.
Chestatee’s Kelsey Neukum finished 10th overall (20:07). Jackson County’s Brittany Aikens finished 15th (20:27). White County’s Jessie Dotson placed 16th (20:28).