CARROLTON — There’s something about the course at Carrolton High that really makes the Falcons fly.
Despite coming in to the 2009 Cross Country Championships as the Region 7-AAA runner-up, the Flowery Branch boys proved that last year’s state title was no fluke by winning their second straight state championship Saturday in Carrolton.
"Winning the first one was amazing, but winning state back to back is
even more amazing," Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Sorrells said. "This is the day that we wanted to do our best. That was our goal, and that was our
plan, and we did that."
It took a complete team effort to accomplish that goal, as five Falcons finished in the top 30 to give them a total time of 1:23:56.98, which was more than three minutes better than second-place finisher Eagles Landing.
"We try to stick together and race together," said senior Jeffrey Valez, who finished 13th overall. "This win means everything, we worked all summer for this."
David Farist was the first Falcon to cross the finish line with a time of 16:21.80, which was good enough for fifth place. Kenny Slavik finished in ninth place with a time of 16:28.58.
Those times paled in comparison to North Hall’s Ty McCormack, who placed second with a time of 15:47.98. His time combined with Cody Barger’s fourth-place finish were not enough for the Trojans to win a state championship.
"My time doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win state," a disappointed McCormack said. "I don’t care about myself, I care about the team.
"This is the worst feeling in the world."
That’s the complete opposite to how the Flowery Branch runners werefeeling, and what made the win even more sweet was the fact that they were able tobeat North Hall, a team that won the region title a week ago.
"We beat ‘em when it counts," Farist said. "We’ll givethem region; we’ll take state any day."
Flowery Branch wasn’t done celebrating, because shortly after the boys were officially announced as state champions, the female Falcons were crossing the finish line.
The first to cross was Kiara Woods, who finished in second place for the second straight year with a time of 18:37.
"I’m feeling pretty good," Woods said. "Of course I would have liked to have won, but I’m not disappointed."
Neither was Sorrells, whose girls finished in third place, which is the best finish for the program at the state meet. North Hall’s girls finished 11th and Jackson County, led by Brittany Aiken’s seventh place finish, placed 16th.
"For us to get a trophy is an accomplishment for this program," Sorrels said.
The girls’ finish was to be commended, but the day belonged to the boys team, which won despite missing their No. 3 runner Maurice Riden, who was sidelined with an injury.
"That’s a testament to these kids for stepping up," Sorrels said. "They proved that we could do it no matter who puts on a Flowery Branch uniform."
Flowery Branch and North Hall were not the only area teams to finish in the top 5, as Dawson County’s girls finished fourth in Class AA. The Lady Tigers were led by Maddy Walters, who came in fifth place with a time of 19:53.13.
On the boys’ side of Class AA, Banks County finished eighth and Matt Johnson’s 15th-place finish paced Buford to a 13th-place finish, one spot ahead of Dawson County’s boys team.
Habersham Central’s teams finished 13th in the Class AAAA boys meet and 16th in the girls competition, and Towns County’s girls placed 15th in Class A.