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North Hall sweeps Hall County cross country championships
North Hall senior Brandon Lawson leads the pack Tuesday during a 5K as part of the Hall County Cross Country Championships at the Chestatee Academy of Inquiry and Talent Development in Gainesville. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Race results:

Hall County Championships

Girls individual finishers

Victoria Rogers (NHHS) 19:47.84

Taylor Long (WHHS) 20:03.14

Sara Hayes (GHS) 20:30.24

Sara Beth English (CHS) 21:05.99

Ryan Sharry (WHHS) 21:18.29

Madison Van Dyke (NHHS) 21:32.49

Savannah Smith (WHHS) 21:47.26

Boys individual finishers

Luis Gonzalez (NHHS) 16:37.97

Witt Nix (NHHS) 17:21.31

Jimmy Gault (WHHS) 17:32.90

Dustin Snyder (LA) 17:41.64

Junior Iniguez (WHHS) 17:44.45

Bryce Schuebert (NHHS) 17:44.74

Brandon Nguyen (WHHS) 17:45.29

Girls team scores

1. North Hall (34 points)

2. West Hall (41)

3. Chestatee (73)

4. Gainesville (101)

5. Johnson (141)

6. East Hall (150)

Boys team scores

1. North Hall (26)

2. West Hall (60)

3. Lakeview (101)

4. Gainesville (109)

5. Chestatee (115)

6. Johnson (135)

7. East Hall (181)

8. Riverside (197)



The North Hall boys cross country team is targeting a state championship, and it all starts with their two senior leaders.

So when top runner Brandon Lawson stopped and passed out on the course Tuesday at the Hall County Championships at Chestatee Middle School, longtime friend Luis Gonzalez’s first thought was to go back to his teammate, but coach Drew Rogers urged him to keep running.

Gonzalez continued on, blew away the rest of the field in a time of 16:37.97 (second-place finisher, North Hall’s Witt Nix, came in at 17:21.31), and then hardly broke stride as he crossed the finish line and ran back on to the course to find Lawson.

“Brandon’s been our top runner all year, and the two have run together since seventh grade,” Rogers said. “Luis is just a class kid. He cared more about his teammate than winning the race.”

That kind of team spirit is why No. 3 ranked North Hall has a shot at winning state, and why it blew away the rest of the field and defended its Hall County Championships title Tuesday even without Lawson leading the way.

This time it was his teammates, including Gonzalez, who came back to run with Lawson the rest of the way to the finish line when the senior recovered.

“After six years of running together, he’s pretty much a brother to me,” Gonzalez said. “For all the year’s that I’ve been running we’ve been inches away from winning state.

“That’s something that me and Brandon want to do; we’re aiming for a team state title this year.”

Gonzalez, who had passed out in the previous race and was being looked over at Scottish Rite Hospital just days before, and the Trojans looked the part Tuesday in winning the Hall County cross country title.

“It’s senior year for us,” Gonzalez said. “Time to suck it up, get out there and win it.”

West Hall came in a distant second Tuesday, led by third-place finisher Jimmy Gault (17:32.90). Lakeview rounded out the top three, paced by Dustin Snyder’s fourth-place finish.

NORTH HALL GIRLS TOP WEST HALL: North Hall junior Victoria Rogers finally beat West Hall’s Taylor West and broke the Lady Spartan’s course record along the way, as Rogers led her team once again to a Hall County Championships title on Tuesday with a first place finish and a new course record, a time of 19:47.84.

West had set the course record with a time of 20:08 at the War Eagle Invitational Sept. 6. This time she came in second with a time of 20:03.14, leading her team to a second place finish behind the Lady Trojans.

“These two are going to go back and forth all year long, just like the teams have,” coach Rogers said, whose girls are 2-2 against West Hall this season. “Victoria ran a good, smart race today. The goal was just to keep close and pass if she could.”

The Lady Trojans junior ran close behind West for most of the race, but in the final half-mile stretch she made her move, passing West and continuing on to the finish.

It was the first course record for Rogers, who had hoped to have a chance to pass the one runner in the area she couldn’t get past. The course record was an unexpected bonus.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “People will be looking back for hopefully a couple of years for the time to go after.”

North Hall came in to the race ranked No. 6 and West Hall No. 5 in Class AAA. Tuesday the separation between the two powerhouse Hall County cross country teams was just seven points.

Chestatee finished third overall, led by Sara Beth English (21:05.24) with a fourth-place finish. Gainesville came in fourth with top runner Sara Hayes sneaking in to the top three with a time of 20:30.24.

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