4. Madalyn Walters (Dawson County), 19:42.73
4. Taylor Long (West Hall), 19:50.38
6. Jessie Dotson (White County), 20:00.75
8. Victoria Rogers (North Hall), 20:13.69
4. Luis Gonzalez (North Hall), 16:11.59
6. Brandon Lawson (North Hall), 16:27.32
8. Drew Garland (Flowery Branch), 16:37.55
Local top 10 team scores
5. Jackson County (Rachel Pasko, Sydney Baird, Maddie Newton, Ashley Burton, Michayla Scollon) 179
8. Dawson County (Madalyn Walters, Rachel Gloeckner, Cassidy LeCours, Savanna Estes, Morgan Collett) 255
10. Jefferson (Reese Bowles, Sasha Parker, Olivia Yates, Holly Barron, Maggie Adams) 339
6. Jefferson (Trae Timmerman, Kyle Kashuba, Nicholas Parker, Cain Lorenzo, Jake Sherman) 235
8. Dawson County (Chris Bywaletz, Jonathan Erickson, Tyler Thurmond, Jake Hafermalz, Preston Adams) 269
6. North Hall (Victoria Rogers, Madison VanDyke, April Barth, Katie McDowell, Makayla Ellis) 110
7. West Hall (Taylor Long, Savannah Smith, Ryan Sharry, Carrie Ruis, Elizabeth Gale) 150
2. North Hall (Luis Gonzalez, Brandon Lawson, Witt Nix, Bryce Schuebert, Tucker LoCicero) 76
2. Flowery Branch (Megan Kirk, Brittany Wells, Lauren Kirk, Ellie Tanner, Kayla Robles) 162
1. Flowery Branch (Drew Garland, Taylor Fiorello, Luis Teran, Nicholas Ashmead, Austin Webber) 68
CARROLLTON-Last year the Flowery Branch boys cross country team saw Marist take the state title by packing the runners together to finish in a strong group.
Flowery Branch had won two straight state champions in Class AAA, but fell to third in its inaugural season in AAAA in 2010.
"The level of competition goes up and we kind of underestimated (Class AAAA) last year," said Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells. "It was a tough pill to swallow, but we learned from it."
Clearly the Falcons learned their lesson.
Flowery Branch stampeded by Marist 68-101 on Saturday in Class AAAA at the state cross country championships at Carrollton Middle. The Falcons' top five runners ran the course in a total of 1:24:26.89, or an average of 16:53.38.
The first one in was senior Drew Garland in eighth place in a time of 16 minutes, 37.55 seconds.
He was followed by Taylor Fiorello in 12th (16:49.94), Luis Teran in 15th (16:57.72), Nicholas Ashmead in 18th (17:00.19) and Austin Webber in 19th (17:01.49). All five separated by just 11 places and all five in the top 20, packing at its finest.
"That was our goal to keep it packed," Garland said. "We saw Marist do it last year, and we knew we needed to pack."
Before the 2011 season began, Sorrells and Garland made a goal, to get runners 1-5 across the finish line as close as possible and as quickly as possible.
When Sorrells saw the fourth and fifth runners barreling down the final stretch so soon after the top runners, the coach began to see his third state title in four years come together.
"I was able to see the four and five guys finish, and it was awesome," Sorrells said. "All the credit goes to the kids and parents.
"I love these kids because they believe in what they do and they believe in me."
Marist saw its method work against them and couldn't respond. While top runner Michael Thurston finished second overall, the War Eagles had only one other runner in the top 20.
Lakeside-Evans finished one point behind Marist to round out the top three.
For Garland it was just the kind of finish he had wanted to finish his high school career.
"We were disappointed after last season, so it feels good to come back and make a statement," Garland said. "It's nice, three state championships in four years."
Habersham Central finished 24th overall, led by John Gagnon at 103 (18:16.76).
Marist did get the best of Flowery Branch in the girls race, finishing with 75 points while the Lady Falcons came in second with 162 points, just ahead of Dunwoody (168) in third.
Megan Kirk led Flowery Branch with a 21st place finish in a time of 20:27.05. Brittany Wells (20:33.87) and Lauren Kirk (20:37.16) also finished in the top 30 for the Lady Falcons.
For the second year in a row, only St. Pius X stood in the way of the North Hall boys and a state championship.
This year it came down to just one point as the rival Golden Lions nipped the Trojans by a single point.
North Hall's strength this season was in the team. It was the team that finished 1-5 in the region meet and the team that finished second overall at state.
"We ran the best we could today and we've got to be happy with it," said North Hall coach Drew Rogers. "This is our second year in a row being second, but it wasn't nearly this close last year.
"This is our big rivalry."
The Trojans did it without having an individual runner in the top three. Senior Luis Gonzalez led the way with a fourth overall finish (16:11.59) and senior Brandon Lawson finished sixth with a time of 16:27.32.
Lawson, who has been the top runner this season, was in the top three through most of the race before fading back. When Gonzalez passed him on the course, Lawson urged his teammate on.
"As soon as I passed him he said, you've got to get up there Luis," Gonzalez recalled. "So I tried."
The senior rallied to finish just six seconds behind St. Pius X leader Austin Sprague (16:05.09), who finished third overall.
"We ran the best we could today and we've got to be happy with it," Rogers said. "They're frustrated but we ran well."
West Hall finished 13th and was led by Jimmy Gault in 17th (17:03.41). White County came in 19th, led by Levi Fangmann in 39th (17:38.61).
In the girls race three locals runners finished in the top 10, led by a familiar face.
West Hall junior Taylor Long's goal was a top-10 finish at state. After finishing fourth overall in a time of 19:50.38, her senior year goal will be even higher.
"That was a really tough race and we've got some amazing runners out there," Long said. "If we get back to state next year my goal is the top three."
As a team the Spartans finished seventh overall. North Hall, led by Victoria Rogers (8th, 20:13.69) came in at 6th overall.
White County also had a top-10 runner in sixth place finisher Jessie Dotson (20:00.75). Chestatee finished 15th and was led by Sara Beth English (20:43).
Dawson County finished eighth overall, led by Madalyn Walters, who finished fourth overall (19:42.73) to lead all local finishers.
Rachel Pasko from Jackson County (fifth) finished 16th individually (20:40.60) and Reese Bowles from Jefferson (10th) came in at 20th (21:00.34).
In the boys race the Dragons' Trae Timmerman led all local finishers in 18th (17:34.21). Chris Bywaletz led Dawson County in 40th (18:07.39).